Author: Leigh Bardugo
Plot and Themes: 2/5
Cheers Factor: 3/5
Pairing: Cherry Crypt Cider by True Brewing
This choice comes more from an aesthetic point. It’s super tasty as well, but I just love the dark can and the ominous name. It feels very fitting for a book with dark organizations that are cult like and ritual based using tombs and their own kinds of crypts.
"I let you die. To save myself, I let you die."
Take a Shot: Galaxy (Alex) Stern is a new student at Yale and the newest member of Leith House. She comes from a troubled past and she found out she was going to Yale when she awoke in a hospital bed after an almost fentanyl overdose and a murder scene that would make any detective squeamish. She is absconded of guilt seeing as the murderer was left handed, she’s right handed and she was nearly dead of an overdose. However, her superior Darlington is missing and she’s been limping along in hopes of eventually bringing him back from wherever he is in the universe after being sucked into a black hole.
"A lie isn't a lie until someone believes it."
There’s a whole lot to unpack with this title if I’m being honest. I had incredibly high hopes for this book. One, it’s Leigh Bardugo Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows and King of Scars extraordinaire; two it’s an adult fiction novel written by a YA author with college students in secret societies at Yale (I have a friend who knows someone in one of these societies and I’m pretty sure what happens in this book is not happening); and three the cover is mad sexy. However, I feel disappointed by this title and unsure about where another installment will go.
I want to talk about the characters first. Alex, I’m not calling her Galaxy absolutely not, is a very annoying character in my opinion. Now, I understand she has some aggressive trauma be it her ability to see ghosts haunting her for years, her wackadoodle mother, her rape via ghost or even her loss of her best friend. I’m not in any way discounting that, but like genuinely every second I felt like I was whipping my head around because she’s either this tough strong badass or she’s like this stubborn annoying teenager. It wasn’t endearing. Next we move to any of the other characters. Like the detective, nope. The dean, nope. Dawes grew on me but she’s also annoying. She had about as much personality as a piece of cardboard unless it was in regards to Darlington or her dissertation. Lastly we have Darlington, who is arguably my favorite of the characters. He is a genuinely naive young man that I wish I could hug only he’s literally dead so there’s that. I wish he was around because he is my favorite character and he will likely be the only reason why I read a second installment.
As for the plot I just could not get into it. It was kind of hard to follow, fairly anticlimactic and arguably just confusing 90% of the time. It starts with Alex basically having attempts on her life occur at least daily. Then there’s a murder and a fairly unimpactful motive behind the murder and the societies are lackluster. Then there’s a gross fraternity style rape video that just bothered me so wholeheartedly that I was truly cringing and debating not picking the book back up. I just felt like I was in a weird fever dream and it also felt predictable in its basic delivery which bothered me as well.
The main thing I enjoyed was the college campus aspect. Yale is an ivy league school so naturally it’s fun to read about stories in those settings. I enjoyed the immersion that the novel gave in terms of never having been to Yale but feeling like I had been there. A good fantasy book on a college campus is always a bonus.
In finishing the book I felt kind of dissatisfied given how high my expectations had been going into it. I’m hoping that a second installment pulls in a lot more so that I can feel redeemed from this first one, but we shall see if Bardugo will publish another in the near future.
"We all have spaces we keep blank."
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Each book here at Cheers&Chapters is rated based off of certain categories that are genre specific, however every book will get a Cheers Factor. The Cheers Factor is how much we wanted to raise our glass while reading it. So get your glasses ready and cheers!