Hey all, Dani here.
It’s another lovely day…well, I think anyway. I’ll be honest, I had issues getting back to sleep this morning after Damian left for work–as in he leaves at 5 am and normally I’m back to sleep by 5:30 and then finally fully wake up around 10-10:30, but today I didn’t get back to sleep until 9 am so I slept until 12:45. Basically I’m only a few hours into my day so far. But I guess the time I’ve been awake has been pretty good.
Anyway, today is a sort-of backlist review, I guess. Though I do have several books that I read way before this one. I really need to just buckle down and write all of my old overdue reviews so I can schedule a bunch of bonus posts scattered through the upcoming weeks and months.
Okay, let’s go ahead and just jump into the review.
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
ISBN: 1250313074 (ISBN13: 9781250313072)
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
Rating: 4 stars
Obviously, this is a super hyped book in the online book community. I heard people talking about this one for months before it came out, and it was like everywhere I turned there was someone on Bookstagram or Book Twitter or BookTube talking about it. And I get the excitement: it’s a non-Grishaverse story from Leigh Bardugo. I enjoy her books (Six of Crows duology more than the original trilogy), and I was really curious to see what I would think of a new story.
In some ways I think this one is easier to separate from her other writing because it is so different. Grishaverse is set in a fictional fantasy world and Alex Stern’s world is ours…with secret magic societies. Grishaverse is YA and Alex Stern is most certainly adult. Thankfully Bardugo’s great writing is consistent through all of her books, which is awesome.
I was definitely intrigued by the concept of this story, and really wanted to learn more about these secret societies at Yale. Actually, when I was 12 I dreamed of going to Yale myself, but while my grades were good, they weren’t quite Yale good, so I gave up that dream in high school.
This book read slower than other Bardugo books I’ve read, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely threw me off for a while. I would read a few chapters of this book and then set it aside to read something else for a day or two, and then pick it back up again. It was like I wanted time to let the story sink in and to digest everything.
But I guess the main thing I didn’t like so much with this book was the timeline. It would jump from present semester to previous semester and back again. We started in the middle of a story and it felt like we were consistently pulled back to the beginning or earlier in the tale just so we could understand the present better. I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had just started with Alex coming to Yale and being introduced to everything before jumping forward a semester. Maybe that’s just me though. I know a lot of people really love this book.
I really like it; I’m intrigued by the magic system and the mystery of it all. But I wouldn’t call this one of my favorite books or anything. It ranks probably in the middle bottom of Bardugo books [Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom, King of Scars, Siege and Storm, Language of Thorns, Ninth House, Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Ruin and Rising, Shadow and Bone].
Alex Stern is an interesting protagonist, that’s for sure. She’s been through a lot, and she definitely struggles with feeling quite out of place at Yale. But I think by the end of this story she’s actually starting to embrace the necessity of her position, and the fact that she does fit in, albeit in a very oddball way. I think the next book will probably pick up the pace in terms of a lot of plot aspects, or at least I certainly hope so.
Where to Get a Copy
You can also check with your local library.