Alex Stern #1
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.
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Drug use, Overdosing, Murder, Death, Loss of a Loved One, Gore, Depiction of PTSD and Grief, Self-Harm, Graphic Rape of a Child, Mention of Rape (separate occasion), Statutory Rape, Assault, Physical Abuse, Use of a Magical Date Rape Drug, Forced Eating of Human Waste Racism
Before we start this review, I’m going to preface: I won’t be bringing up the discourse surrounding this book. I am probably the least qualified to talk about it and there are many other reviewers who are much more eloquent than I.
“I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me.”
So, when I tell you I’m disappointed…. it’s and understated piece of confusion. Me and this book are like waves in an ocean— my excitement and interest in it rose and fell in sequence. Granted, it was low a lot more than it was high… but I digress.
It’s bad when I go into a book I was HIGHLY looking forward to, ready to complain. From the prologue, I wasn’t latched on, I felt a disconnect and at THAT point, I knew this wasn’t going to be everything I wanted it to be.
Now, despite all of the complaining I may or may not do in this review, this must be said: this is a book on perseverance. This story is first and foremost for and about survivors and victims and kicking back at life when it tries to drag you down. This is the main thing that made this book something for me and I respect the hell out of it.
“But the trouble had begun on a night in the full dark of winter, when Tara Hutchins died and Alex still thought she might get away with everything.”
The story jumps back from Winter and Spring, from Alex’s start in Yale to death and searching for missing people and just the stress of it all. Which is fine, though the way it was written, it felt nothing was being told to me, while also being info-dumped? A lot was being said… and NOTHING was being said at the same time?
Which also leads into this book being unnecessary long for what happens here. You’d think this book would be so up my alley and for a time I thought so too— the setting and the atmosphere and dark academia HELLO, but I can’t lie when I say I started the skim reading around the 15% mark. There are flashbacks and one of the only thing keeping me going was the writing, because Leigh Bardugo can write the hell out of some books, this we know.
“I let you die. To save myself, I let you die.
That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.”
Then, I thought the characters would latch me in (I do love some character based books), but the only time I was genuinely interested in Alex or Darlington was when they were together. Their dynamic was intriguing, though Darlington was a bit more interesting? His inner quarrel with being the best and having to stoop and teach this troublemaker of a girl who quite literally popped up out of nowhere, him slowly coming to understand her while still in a way feeling resentment towards her.
Alex usually caught my interest when she was being ambitious, being a little ruthless. Seeing her need to feel normal and just survive, but having to resort back to her vicious, untamed side when shit isn’t getting done… I appreciate it. However, she got to me most with her journey of healing and self discovery and overall coming into herself.
This is the problem with over-hyping a book. I know I’m complaining a lot and I’m making it seem like I absolutely disliked this book… but I didn’t?
I managed to finish it in one setting (surprisingly) and I can catch me paying for a B&N special edition of the sequel. I have a lot of faith book two will have more meat on its bones. This first installment felt like a set up and while I semi slugged through it, I wasn’t entirely bored and it felt necessary for what’s to come.Thank you for coming to me very confusing review.