Thank you so much to Turn the Page Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘The Ivies’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!
Title: The Ivies
Author: Alexa Donne
Publisher: Crown (Random House Children’s)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Final Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Readers of Karen M. McManus and Holly Jackson will want to enroll in this boarding school thriller about a group of prep school elites who would kill to get into the college of their dreams–literally.
Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions… among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.
Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m complete and utter trash for anything dark academia, and The Ivies was a gripping thriller that kept me clutching the edge of my seat throughout! I love prep school drama, and scandals (the ✨ spicier ✨ the better), so this book was super fun for me! It reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars, in the sense that the friend group personalities were similar, they relied on secrets and blackmail for loyalty, and when one of the main characters was murdered, and one of the friends started solving the murder – they were being sent threats, and being told to back off.
I loved that the plot wasn’t too straightforward, and even though I had a slight suspicion of who the murderer could be, I never fully knew. There were twists and turns at every chapter, making me change my mind, and increasing the stakes each time. I loved the drama in the book, and I think the author being a former private-college specialist, also really helped make this dark academia all the more atmospheric.
Avery’s character arc, and how she grew from someone you loathed to someone you were rooting for, or Sierra’s character arc, and how she grows from someone you appreciate to someone you start hating were both such good examples of how everyone has their own secrets. Not only these two, however if I say anything else, I’ll probably spoil – but each character was so much more than what they looked like at first glance, and they each were hiding their own betrayals, which I think helped develop the story so much!
Although I loved so many aspects of the story, a lot just felt flat for me. I’m going to try not to spoil too much in this section, which is why it may feel kind of vague. One of the major problems I had with this was the ending. It was underwhelming for me, and I feel the story had so much missed potential, because it could have ended so well, especially with the way things changed – but no.
Another major problem I had was the character arc of one of the characters. I didn’t have a problem with the way it was done – in fact, I rather liked that. I think the way the personality of this character developed over time, and his gradual progression was written well, however, the way he started acting towards the ending annoyed me so much, and I think taking it in another direction would also help improve the ending.
The Ivies was a slick, fast paced thriller that had me hooked from the very first page. I’m a sucker for anything dark academia and prep school drama – so I had super high expectations for this book, and I’m really glad to say that they (mostly) delivered to my initial expectations. Yes, the ending underwhelmed me, and I got frustrated with some of the character development, but the high stakes, and interesting characters kept me invested in this world of betrayals, lies, and going as far as murder to get into your dream school.
About the Author
Alexa Donne is the author of Brightly Burning and The Stars We Steal, YA sci-fi romance retellings of classics set in space out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her next YA, THE IVIES, a thriller set in the world of competitive college admissions, will be out in May 2021 from Crown/Random House. A graduate of Boston University, she works in TV marketing and has done pro bono college admissions mentoring since 2014. A true INFJ, in her “free” time she mentors with WriteGirl, runs the Author Mentor Match program, and manages one of the most popular writing advice channels on YouTube. She lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. You can find her in most places @alexadonne.
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