This is a story about a city with a secret war: The Educators versus The Truancy. I bet you can guess which side the Mayor's on and which side a character named Zyid would be on. But this is a world where schools are so cruel to their students it almost seems intentional, and a teen named Tack has been having some rather nasty episodes lately. At the same time, Zyid is trying his best to figure out the right course of action to introduce the city to the Mayor's corruption and willingness to let the kids be slaves, and is more than willing to command his army to steal and kill if a heist goes awry or if the Educators bring their troops. Tack ends up sucked in and gains Zyid's attention, but it's not the kind he was hoping for.
Isamu Fukui wrote this book when he was younger than me, inspired from his horrid experiences at school. Some of that is shown here; a bus ends up late and he automatically fails a test for being late and so does another girl because she went to get her coat out of her locker. Tack's teachers give him inexcusable amounts of homework on top of homework, are constantly unnecessarily rude, and could get away with stealing out of lockers if they wanted to. But apart from that and the Mayor's outbursts, which sound like they were a lot of fun to write, most of the book does not sound exactly angry. A lot of it is mission after mission. There are so many action scenes I lost count about a quarter in. And it's a 430 paged book, but I read it on iBooks, and the number ended up being 600. This is an extremely long book as we wait for progress in the war between the Truancy and the Educators to happen. It's terrific at first, then gets a little exhausting.
One example is a character who ends up doing a lot of damage to the Truancy by being an infiltrator. He's all around for about 60 pages and then he's eliminated, and we're nowhere near the big climax.
I liked Truancy but it ended up just being too much for one run, like Ferris Bueller cut Principal Rooney in half with an axe and showered in his chemically blood. This is a trilogy, with Truancy Origins, a prequel of two of the major characters in the first one, and a sequel and ending to the first called Truancy City. But this one book feels like two or three books plastered into one. I think I would've liked it more if these events were separated into more and given more quiet time with discussions and worries. So much gore and death happens in this one book, more than the entire Shatter Me or Reckoners series had, combined. It's almost admirable, how far these characters, those that have survived anyway, have grown and gotten so buff and seen as many cataclysms as they have when the last pages are turned. I guess when we get about halfway into the second part, the repetitiveness kicks in.
Though it takes a very long time to get there, the ending "boss battle", while a bit corny in its ways the characters let their guard down around their opponents because they want this to be a fair fight, and as a result they look back and don't hold a grudge when a sword nearly goes through their skull, even after the fifth time, (BREATHE), it still packed a huge wallop. And despite its sometimes questionable material, Isamu Fukui doesn't hold back with the message that being cruel, being dangerous, is not the way to go in life, and certainly not how to do the education system. Tack also has an unrequited love interest with a vivid nice-to-meet-you story, and though I wasn't swooning over it, I look forward to finding out what happens in the future because of it. See all the enjoyable material I'm talking about? It's good, and yet too much, yet I still feel like I'm recommending it even though I'm giving it a 2 star rating.
But Truancy really is the most violent and pessimistic book I've ever read. One of my all-time favourite books, Shredder by Niall Leonard, talked about how many goers in London were just moating around fully aware of the many pickpockets, terrorists and arsonists, and they're prepared for them to not come home in the evening one day. In the world of Truancy, it's like that, except those words mean about ten times as many criminals and ten times as many daily violence.