I finally finished the book that’s been on everyone’s ‘Anticipated Releases of 2019’ OR ‘Books I Wish I Read in 2019’ if they haven’t read it already. Boy, am I proud of myself cause I almost gave up halfway.
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: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
I really did not expect to enjoy this book so much. I didn’t think it would be such a slow-burn because Leigh’s YA writing tends to read and feel faster in its pace and readability. Well, her adult writing is definitely different.
From the prologue, I was confused.
It was a lot of information, written in such a complex way – not helping that I tend to read later in the afternoon or at night when I’m tired so I was feeling extra exhausted cause it felt like I was doing math while reading this (much like reading complex books like Nevernight).
I didn’t understand how the houses were organised until maybe halfway through (when my interest peaked) and I genuinely had to reread some sentences a few times over when I got confused.
Despite that, I reached about halfway and things suddenly got really interesting. This is basically a mystery novel with many magical aspects based on the dodgy rituals of these university societies. We meet our main character, Alex, who has a rough and complicated past, trying to get by her university classes at the prestigious University of Yale. An opportunity she got purely because of a gift or curse, that I won’t mention cause I’m not sure whether it’s a spoiler or not, that means she must monitor the magical activities by the societies at Yale. Each society is a magical house, of which there are 8 founding houses and Alex works for the ninth, I guess secret, society or house that monitors the other societies. During the book, she is trying to uncover the mystery of homicide while we also slowly learn how she managed to be the only one to survive an unsolved multiple homicide before Yale took her in.
What also kept me reading was the other main or the supporting character, Darlington. He is another student who is teaching Alex how to do her job but suddenly disappears and it becomes another mystery for Alex to solve. His point of view (which we also read in the book) was so different from Alex’s and create a perfect personality contrast. Although I appreciated Alex’s strong and brave personality, after all she’s been through and what she’s constantly going through, Darlington was indeed the most likeable character in the novel.
The slow burn was exhausting at many points but what made this book so good was that things began to slowly unravel and the plot seriously thickened as you started to understand and put things together. It also reminded me a little of Harry Potter and Throne and Glass, in the way that this is just the first book in a series, and I realised that some of the information we’re getting now isn’t just character building but is information that might actually be important for later in the story via future books in the series. Things that I thought were pointless at some point while reading this, mattered later on.
Leigh’s writing style for this book was also so full of information because it was based on narration for the most part. I know some people will probably hate that but I actually didn’t mind it. The lack of dialogue was great at establishing Alex’s world – where she was primarily figuring stuff out and doing things alone. It also gave me the vibes of movies where that one guy is telling the story and it blends in with the cinematography as the ‘movie’ takes over. Some of this book was very graphic and there’s probably a dozen trigger warnings for this book so that’s also something to think about. The graphic stuff was…well, graphic, and disgusting. Some of it was a real shock that had me gasping a little.
Although this is a big book to slug through that doesn’t have a fast pace, to begin with, I finished it feeling pretty happy that I slugged through majority of what I thought was info-dumpy garbage and that ended up being a very intelligent, well-setup world for this mystery and that deadly cliffhanger at the end. So I’m very much looking forward to the next one!
What did you think of this one if you’ve read it?
Until next time,