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I would like to thank Turn the Page Blog Tours for including me in the lineup for this tour. I received the ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.
Publisher | Crown
Release date | March 25, 2021
Genre | YA Fiction – Thriller/Mystery/Contemporary
Description Summary | One of Us is Lying walked so The Ivies could run.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
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.
I rushed over to write this review as soon as I found myself finished with The Ivies. Donne has written a compelling “sink your teeth in” thriller that’ll leave you wanting more. This may market itself as another “high school murder with mean girls” but it is far more than that. Donne writes about wealth privilege, class privilege, the education system, and capitalism.
What peaked my intrigue is knowing that Donne was a private-college essays consultant, she uses her past knowledge and expertise fantastically to craft up a scandalous cut throat affair with ambition and jealousy.
Needless to say, Donne has become an auto-buy author after this one, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into whatever psychological mind bending tale she crafted up.
I think the best way to describe this story is Admissions by Julie Buxbaum x One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus minus any “good characters” and the investigative stealth found in books like A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.
The plot was well structured and the timing of the plot twists was essential to make this an even more enjoyable read. Every time I expected a plot point to be left aside, Donne somehow stealthily brings it back up to confuse me even more.
Story Themes | Wealth and Class
Donne expands on her college admissions storyline to shed a light on wealth and class privilege. This imposing divide that the rich and wealthy put up against the “lower” classes is compounded as the book progresses. If you’ve watched the movie Parasite, it starts off with this bubbling longing from a poor family to live like the standards of the rich family. This bubble festers into a boil, spilling over with envy and injustice because no matter how “hard” you work the rich somehow always find a way to get richer and the poor get poorer.
This same notion is applied to our protagonist Olivia, she’s stuck between loathing the wealthy privileged kids she goes to school with and wanting to be in their shoes. This limbo causes major consequences for her and is a central plot point, because she’s not “accepted” as part of the elite nor does she see herself as part of the “lower classes”.
Of course the most major consequence of this is revealed in the last chapter with Olivia but I can’t tell you that….
I loved Donne’s writing, I think her writing style fits perfectly with this type of genre and she has the ability to constantly keep you glued to the book (a skill critical to the mystery/thriller genre).
I think also some choices of wording is deliberately “fancy” and “prestigious” which is symbolism to how much these characters want to be considered part of the “elite” (in this case the Ivy league universities).
No character is “good” here, and that makes it even more fascinating. And with themes of ambition woven through, it is no surprise to see why. Donne highlights each character’s individualistic nature and picks on their skills like a dual sided coin; showing how it serves as a strength or a weakness but never “good” in the way I see it.
Do I recommend? Yes absolutely, it’s a perfect for a sit down with a nice of cup of tea.
Part of the tour is a giveaway where ONE (1) finished copy of The Ivies by Alexa Donne will find it’s way to a lucky winner! This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from May 23rd to May 30th at 12 AM CST. To enter, click the link.
Check out all the other bloggers on this tour!
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
Thanks again for Turn the Page for allowing me to participate!
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