I enjoy urban magical books, but this one is weird.
It’s not a mystery, it’s not a thriller and it’s not a fantasy. It seems to be all those things. Normally, when a story is many different things, I really enjoy it, because it makes the story feel unique. This story didn’t feel any of those things. I almost didn’t finish it, but because I had paid for the book, I felt obligated to myself to give it a chance.
I enjoy books with some magic in them. Fantasy books have tons, and these are some of my favorite books ever. This book doesn’t feel like a fantasy. It feels like an occult procedure book, with a small fantasy element.
Alex Stern has been accepted to attend Yale. The reason: she can see the “Greys;” ghosts who inhabit the world of the living. The secret society she will be working for needs her ability because the societies they oversee conduct magical practices that attract these ghosts, and if they have someone who can see them, it makes their job much easier.
Alex has had a hard life. She dropped out of high school, had a drug dealer boyfriend, and by the time she was 20, she was the survivor of her friends’ murders. So when her mentor disappears, and a girl from town dies on campus, Alex takes matters into her own hands to find answers.
I don’t enjoy books that don’t feel like they’re living up to their promises. For example, this is the Goodreads synopsis:
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.
This gives almost no idea into what I can expect from this book. It made me curious, so I got the book, but as I read the book, I realized how misleading this synopsis actually is. It mentions nothing about the major element that drives the story in the book.
The death of Tara Hutchins.
Or the disappearance of Darlington.
Both of these things happen in the first half of the book, and they are the two driving forces for the rest of the story. I almost felt like I was being lied to. I get a synopsis that kind of has a “Skulls” feeling (ever seen the movie? It’s Great!), but then I’m not given that in the story itself.
I also didn’t find Alex to be a very relatable character. I mean, who of us are drug addicts who get a full scholarship to Yale?
I didn’t appreciate the scene where Alex gets molested by the dead guy. It was definitely meant to be disturbing, and showed Alex’s relationship to the “Greys,” but I didn’t feel the scene needed to be as graphic as it was. This was a trigger for me, as I have one rule in my life: Don’t hurt children. I understand why the author felt she needed to include this scene, but I didn’t like it, and it affected my enjoyment of the rest of the book.
My Least favorite things about this book:
This book isn’t predictable in a lot of ways, but it feels like it takes too many twists and turns.
It tries to tell the story in the present and through flashbacks, but this makes the story feel stilted, and I can’t tell where in the story I’m supposed to be
The book isn’t written in one Point of View. Sometimes I was reading from Darlington’s, and sometimes from Alex’s. This, along with the changes in time, made the book hard to follow.
My Favorite Quotes:
“I c-c-class p-profanity with declarations of love. Best used sparingly and only when wholeheartedly m-m-meant.”-Darlington
“That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible.” – Alex
Overall, I will likely not be reading any more books by this author. This book was good, and I’m sure many people would enjoy it more than I did. This book has received mixed reviews, which made me curious in itself, because I always try to form my own opinion about a book. I find myself leaning more toward the “negative” reviews, though, because while this book was good, it wasn’t good enough to make me want to read the rest of the series. I have too many books on my TBR currently that I’m really excited about to give time to a series that I only feel “meh” about.
I can’t say I truly hated this book, because I think the idea behind it could have been really good. I just think the execution of the story needed more work, and I have more bad than good to say about this book. Will I ever read it again? Not likely. I also won’t tell you not to read it. I’ll leave that decision up to you, because many people did enjoy this book, enough that it got pretty good score on Goodreads (4.5). I personally just didn’t enjoy this book enough to give it a “highly recommend.”
If you enjoy urban fantasy with a magic element, and multiple time frames with a dual point of view, then you might enjoy this book. I hope if you read it, you keep an open mind about the negatives I’ve mentioned, because I love when people make up their own minds. This review is just one opinion.
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Until next time, bookworms!