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The Year of the Gadfly

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,027 ratings  ·  386 reviews
“Do you know what it took for Socrates’ enemies to make him stop pursuing the truth?”

Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom's Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Mariner Books (first published May 8th 2012)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  2,027 ratings  ·  386 reviews

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**ooh, now i can promote it on libboo!!**

i have said a lot of things in my life.

twins are evil
NASA is a drug front/the moon does not exist
france is an island
this book is fun.

and maybe you don't want to agree with me on a lot of those things, and i totally understand that. but i stand by my statements and i don't care if i stand alone.

this book is not really like secret history. it is more like special topics in calamity physics, in the age of the
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Sep 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in books about adolescence.
Shelves: fiction
Bucolic New England setting with winding backroads, high-powered academically competitive prep school, and identity-challenged adolescents is the stuff of YEAR OF THE GADFLY. It's a day school, not a boarding school, so the parental pressure is unrelenting as well. Miller develops her story through two interlinked time lines. The present is 2012. It is narrated alternately in the first person by Iris and Jonah.

Iris has transferred to the Mariana Academy and is entering her sophomore year.
Mal Warwick
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trade-fiction
When I was in high school back in the dark ages of the 1950s, the pranks we played varied from the timeworn to the troublesome, but nobody ever got hurt. For instance, several dozen of us set alarm clocks to go off in our lockers during class time.

That was a hoot. But it didn’t match the inventiveness of the prank we visited upon our unpopular school librarian, Mrs. Fanny Bright (yes, that was her name, I kid you not): during several of the last weeks of the term, up until the day the library
Nov 15, 2012 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I've promised myself that I will stop finishing books that I dislike. This seems like a redo of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and I've maxed out on my East Coast prep for this year with Seating Arrangements. I already think this book is ridiculous. Back to the library it goes!
3.5 stars
Inventive, darkly charming, well written, and absolutely preposterous. Miller creates some fascinating characters and develops them quite well as she weaves together the lives of several students past and present at a Massachusetts prep school. She took it a little too far for it to be a convincing portrayal, but I enjoyed entering the strange world of science geeks, an albino outcast, and an aspiring journalist who has imaginary conversations with Edward R. Murrow.

If you have a
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

I've been trying to do better at splitting my free time between my hobbies. I have a pretty obsessive personality so when I get into something I get really into it. That means I blaze through books or TV shows or whatever else I'm doing. I focus on that and only that.
Usually when I read a book, though I don't mean to, I compete with myself. How quickly can I get this finished? You need to get X number of pages read today and this many tomorrow etc. I get anxious that I'm taking to long to
If I had to sum this book up in just one word, it would be FUN. When I think about it, I imagine everything in the book taking place in super-bright Technicolor, but also having a kind of retro sheen - it has a distinctive 80s/90s feel, which I think made it a particularly enjoyable experience to me because I grew up reading the YA novels of that time. It is an adult book but it's also something of a love letter to that particular type of YA (think Point Horror/Point Crime and, one of my ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book for me to evaluate, because there is no way I’m going to enjoy reading about the bullying and psychological torture of young kids. For that matter, I am ill-disposed from the very beginning to like reading about private academies for privileged kids. There are some aspects to the plot that intrigued me though, and I wanted to see how they played out.

It seems like there are only two types of students at Mariana Preparatory Academy in Nye, Massachusetts: incredibly cruel,
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Flail city ahead: I loved this book.

From the first page, I was totally taken with Iris, one of our heroes, a 14-year old aspiring journalist whose best friend is Edward R. Morrow. (Yes, I saw so so much of teenaged self in her!) After her best friend kills herself and Iris' mother catches her chatting with Morrow, Iris and her family move toward western Massachusetts, and Iris is sent to the elite private school, Mariana Academy.

The other voices in this novel were as compelling as Iris': Dr.
Diane S ☔
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say I am drawn to any book with an academic setting and this book took me right back to high school days. Iris is not quite your ordinary 14 yr. old, as she seriously wants to become a journalist, and her hero is Edward Murrow, who she talks to quite often. Yes, she knows he is dead but the fact really alarms her parents. Mariana Academy is a school for intense students who want to go to an ivy league colleges and it was founded by Prisom with a serious honor code. There is a group ...more
I'm a little sad and a little angry that someone spent so much time writing this book and ended up with such a turd.

Character motivations make no sense, with the occasional exception of Iris (she's so tiny! But with perky tits!). Jonah (why is everyone named like they attend a Park Slope daycare?)--why would Jonah come back to the school, given his role in the you-know-what? And why would the board of directors approve a huge salary (several times the usual) for a troublemaking ex-student? They
Emily Crowe
As much as I dislike the aches and stuffiness associated with having a cold, I love the fact that I get more reading done when I'm sick than when I'm well. Must have something to do with the hours spent lying horizontal on the bed or library loveseat, and if I take a medicinal sip of bourbon every now and again to heal my sore throat, what of it? (Yes, I drink lots of hot tea with honey & lemon, but I swear that they don't feel like they're doing half the good that a shot of whiskey does.)

Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is one of those books about private school (that I love), a secret society and a girl reporter who likes to chat with Edward R. Murrow.
My thoughts...
Iris and her family have moved to a new town and a new school. I am imagining Iris as a bit on the odd side. She carries around a sort of briefcase and she styles herself as a reporter in the manner of her idol, Edward R. Murrow. She is on the school newspaper but her ideas are severely restricted by the editor. She feels a kinship, a
Susan Johnson
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
This really is a story about the outcasts of a high school. I am not talking about the troublemakers or those who purposefully hold themselves apart but the intellectual nerd who just don't fit in. You know in 10-15 years they will computer millionaires, future Nobel Prize winners, research scientists or some other successful professional but for those important high school years, they just don't belong. They tend to congregate together not from any real liking but because there's
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is an odd one. Intensely over-written and in need of cutting about 1/3 of the content. Splitting up the narrative voice between first person (2 characters) and third person (one character) is a lame way to create mystery - and just trust me, the reveal of the "mystery" is almost the dumbest reveal in the history of fiction. Spoiler: the graffiti did it. Sigh. Really?!

To that, this is first novel syndrome at work: too many ideas on display and often in competition with one another. I never
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Miller's 14-year-old protagonist, Iris, is a delightful, intense and precocious protagonist. Iris's insatiable curiosity and insistence on communing with the ghost of her journalism hero, Edward R. Murrows, coupled with her charming loathing for cliches, makes The Year of the Gadfly a must-read from page one. Jennifer Miller's debut novel intrigues, dazzles, and moves. Certain to be a popular choice among book club devotees as well as lovers of exquisite writing the world over.
Samantha Trillium ☂
The mystery in this story was enough to keep my attention but I did not warm to many of the characters and I think that really took away from the grand scheme of things in this book.
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a weakness for prep school novels. Having gone to public, private and boarding schools, I love the idealized and/or scandalous versions presented in the genre, because they make my own experiences feel less insane. So when I saw the blurb for The Year Of The Gadfly in Glamour magazine a month or so ago, I put it on my mental to-read list, though wasn't going to make a particular point of getting the book till it came out at my local public library.

And then Jennifer Miller ambushed me here
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, loved, 2013
Iris is a fourteen-year-old aspiring reporter whose parents move to get away from everything, enrolling her in Mariana Academy - a private prep school with so many secrets just waiting for her to discover. Iris is kind of a loner, but she thinks she's found someone who understands her in her science teacher, Mr. Kaplan (Jonah), because of their shared experiences. In an effort to better understand her new world, Iris sends herself undercover, investigating Mr. Kaplan's own time spent as a ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in a New England prep school, "The Year of the Gadfly" takes the reader into the very halls and dungeons of a school that prides itself on its honor code, yet seemingly maintains a studied ignorance of a secret society that has thrived for years and now threatens its placid halls.

Enter Iris Dupont, budding journalist who carries the baggage of a recent loss. Into the world of Nye, Massachusetts and the Mariana Academy, she comes wearing her hopes and dreams on her sleeve, even as she
Natalie (Natflix&Books)
I've always been enamored with the East Coast, especially New England. I love the fall foliage, the Victorian and Cape Cod houses, the fair isle sweaters, but more than anything, I love the schools. Growing up in small-town Wyoming, I fantasized about the prep and boarding schools on the East Coast. The gothic buildings, the ivy, the intellectual debates I thought must occur in the dorms. I still have a soft spot for this idealized world and if a synopsis of a book includes the words "prep ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is of in the elite prep school mystery genre, like Donna Tartt's The Secret History and like Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

I don't know, maybe I'm too old for this kind of book. I read the others years ago. But I just couldn't get excited about high school dramatics this time around, kids learning that it's more important to be yourself than to try fitting in with the popular kids. Seriously, you reach my age and, well, let's hope you're beyond that lesson. But
After her parents discover her talking to her imagined version of Edward R. Murrow, Iris is exiled to Mariana Academy, an elite school with a dark past, where, after a personal tragedy, she is expected to heal and re-establish a sense of normalcy. As Iris settles into her new home (previously occupied by a mysterious albino girl whose possessions lead Iris on a journey through the past), Iris plans to improve her journalism skills and establish herself as one of the few critical thinkers at ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't quite get my feelngs for this book into words. It has some elements in common with Secret History--privileged, smart kids at a private school with secrets--but it's way less pretentious and the characters are much more realistic and sympathetic than the SH smarty pants.

The story is told through three characters and I think this aspect was not entirely successful. The voices didn't all fit together as cohesively as I'd like. Iris, a current student, written in first person, sounds like
Admittedly, this is more of a 2.5 star book for me than a full 3. I went in thinking this would be in a similar vein to The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and that's definitely not anywhere near what this book is. Sure, both have a school, and characters doing shady things, but that's about where the similarities end.

At times, I found the story hard to believe, and I'm not sure that I ever really connected very much with Iris, our bucky young protagonist. Fair enough, I'm more in the age group
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I really didn't much enjoy The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller. It came highly recommended by my eldest daughter, Meghan. It is likely that our taste in books is ultimately different. In this case, mine are more suspect.

The book is well written, a coming of age story. It is a mystery, which is probably part of my discontent. The plot is good, though not the page turner that everyone else says it is. I felt little empathy with any of the characters. While I am a plot driven reader, I must
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the start of this book, got a little bored in the middle, and was left oddly unsatisfied by the end.

Here’s the problem with a really great set up and fantastic opening pages: the author sets the bar impossibly high and then has to follow through on that promise. Year of the Gadfly, while good, can’t maintain its early excellence. There are a few times when it goes down the rabbit hole of details and asides almost to the point of losing sight of the plot.

I liked Year of the Gadfly. It’s
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel has all the things I'm a sucker for in a story: secret societies, interwoven stories from multiple narrators, and a culture of wealth and privilege that my middle-class self will never get to experience first hand. But those details mean nothing without a well-paced story and memorable characters, which, I am happy to report, Gadfly has in spades. Miller is especially good at building suspense by dropping just enough hints while moving the plot forward towards the endgame.

One other
Jun 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting, full of intrigue and quick paced. It kept my interest through the end with a few twists that I did not anticipate.

It is one of my book club's selections, so that is the reason I read it; otherwise, I would not have picked it up. I didn't relish reading about a prep school and the bullying/hazing that goes on within its walls. However, the story, while well written, was farfetched and the characters, darkly charming or deviously detestable,
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Jennifer Miller is author of The Year of the Gadfly
(Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Men's Health,,,, the Columbia Journalism Review, The Millions and the Daily Beast.

Jen holds an MFA in fiction-writing and
“The moment you killed something – a living creature or a false hope – was the moment you came of age. Loss of innocence wasn’t a passive experience that happened to you. It was something you gave up.” 6 likes
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