Title: Freshman Blues
Author Name & Publisher: Ravon Silvius (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 3, 2015 – 254 pgs
When Chris is invited to prestigious Creekville University, he discovers he is part of an experiment by the mysterious Professor Faran. There’s no other way a C student like him would have been accepted into a college where academic mastery results in unique powers like levitation or empathy. But if Faran is right, even below-average students can get special abilities and a good job after graduation. Chris just has to work hard.
Chris isn’t the only one, either. Frederick has worked for Faran for years, and Chris is intrigued by the aloof and sexy older student. But Frederick is too terrified of life after graduation to pursue romance. As they work together, Chris tries to help Frederick out of his depression, all while juggling friendship, classwork, dating, and trying to carve out a place he can belong.
But funding for the experiment is running out, and Chris has to acquire an ability—any ability—soon, or he’ll lose his opportunity at Creekville, and any chance with Frederick, for good.
Hogwarts University? Almost. The characters at Creekville University all have special abilities. Not quite witchcraft and wizardry, but by the end of their four year degree courses, graduates are expected to be able to understand and use their abilities.
But Chris doesn’t have an ability. And the below average student isn’t too sure why he’s on a full scholarship. The other students in his residence have a variety of abilities, but I didn’t find the characters very distinct and kept confusing them.
Chris finds out that his scholarship is from reclusive Professor Faran, requiring him to be Faran’s research subject. Chris is fascinated by and attracted to Frederick, Faran’s older subject and assistant, but Frederick is even more reclusive than Faran himself.
The title of this story is apt and possibly should have been a warning. Chris broods, sulks and contemplates his way through his freshman year. And Frederick broods and sulks his way through his senior year. I found it a little tedious. When the Gay-Straight alliance offers Chris social connections and a hook-up, he is almost too angst ridden to enjoy himself. For a sulky and pretty miserable character, Chris seems to have several good people trying to be his friends. I wanted to shake him and force him to enjoy himself a few times.
Some of the mysteries surrounding Faran’s research are revealed during the story, while others are left for readers to puzzle over. The romance between Frederick and Chris is a one sided obsession for most of the story with the actual romance only really taking place in the last chapters.
My reaction to this story is tepid. It doesn’t really work as a mystery. It doesn’t work as a romance and the protagonist refuses to enjoy himself as a college student. There are some good moments here and I liked the premise, but there wasn’t anything about the story that I really loved.