Author: Alexa Donne
Genre: Young Adult/Murder Mystery
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.
I hadn’t heard or seen anyone talk about this book, but the cover intrigued me so I picked it up. The book started off with a bang, with the first chapter captivating my attention. I wanted to see how the story play out. The book was set up as a murder mystery that shows the lengths people will go to ensure they get into a good college.
Although, the beginning was gripping, I found myself getting bored as the story progressed. The mystery element was there and the plot wasn’t bad, but for some reason the story was weak. It might have something to do with the fact that I have never felt the need to go to an Ivy League school. (Well, there was the small desire to follow in Rory Gilmore’s footsteps and attend Yale.) I don’t really think an Ivy League college is the only way to have a good future.
Olivia, our main character, felt like a typical YA protagonist. In my opinion, books that feature an expensive boarding school usually follow the rich and/or elite kids that attend it. However, there is always the one person that doesn’t feel like they belong. Olivia was that girl in this book. She doesn’t feel like she fits in amongst the wealthy.
Olivia’s friend group includes Avery, Emma, Sierra, and Margot, better known as ‘The Ivies’. You could tell that the girls weren’t genuine friends, as they secretly undercut each other at every turn. They didn’t have each other’s backs, and could be just as ruthless to each other as they were to everyone else. I guess there is some truth to the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
I did find myself getting annoyed with Olivia at times, because her and her friends did awful things to people. However, Olivia kept making excuses for their actions. She might have not known about all the things her friends had done, but her hands were far from clean. She was naive, sure, but that’s hardly an excuse. I never really felt like she owned up to any of her wrong doings. And, somehow still turned out to be the victim.
Avery was clearly made out to be a Regina George type character. She carefully picked her friends; going so far as to select their Ivy League colleges for them. However, she wasn’t this mean girl that was obsessed with getting into Harvard. Well, she wasn’t only that girl. There was a softer side to her as well.
“We improve our own odds by slightly decreasing the fortunes of others.”
As for the rest of the group, they weren’t very fleshed out. We only got to know a little bit about each of them. Emma was probably the one we learned the most about, since she was murdered. We got a small glimpse at who Sierra was. As for Margot, the author didn’t really give any information on her. All we learned was that she didn’t care for Olivia. She didn’t think she fit in with their friend group, and was outright a bad friend to her.
Also, there was a side romance plot that, I guess, was cute. But, I didn’t care for it. I felt like there really didn’t need to be a romance in the story. Maybe I would have felt differently if Olivia was already in a relationship, but I’m not sure. I do, however, think that the outcome of relationship was surprising, and was the best twist in the book.
As for the murder aspect, the killer’s motive was somewhat weak, yet still relatable. I could actually see somebody killing for this reason. The story showed that having a high social status and money, doesn’t make you entitled to anything. Money can’t by dignity, or make you a decent person. The amount of energy these kids put into getting into college seemed exhausting. In the end, the teenagers in the book made getting into a fancy college seem like a ‘kill or be killed’ situation.
I had a lot of theories on how the book would play out, and some of my guesses were right. However, most of the time, I was dead wrong. This book had the potential to be on the level of Karen M. McManus’ books, but it lacked her amazing writing style and thrilling plot. The author has talent, but just didn’t hit this book out of the park.
A small thing that bugged me, but probably isn’t a big deal to most people, was the focus on Harvard. The book mentioned a few other big name schools, but getting in to Harvard played a major role in the story. Why does it always have to be Harvard? Is it too much to ask that we have a little more outside the box thinking? Okay, rant over.
I do want to mention that Alexa Donne happens to be an authortuber. This wasn’t something that I was aware of until after I read the book, but she has some great author content on her channel. If you want to get to know the author behind this book, then I recommend you check out her channel.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this book. It was an interesting read, yet not a book I would pick up again. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on this book. If you like bookish content, then follow the blog before you go.
Until The Next Chapter,