Leigh Bardugo takes the reader to Yale where the secret societies will do anything to achieve power:
Galaxy Alex Stern is not quite the same as the rest of the freshman class at Yale, as Alex never even finished high school, lived a life of shady drug dealer boyfriends, was a druggie and has survived a horrific event, but Alex is nothing but a survivor. She gets a second chance to have a different life and it includes a full ride to Yale, but the second chance has some extra work that Alex will have to do. Alex is tasked with monitoring the activities of the secret societies of Yale to make sure the rituals do not go wrong from paranormal forces. Alex is the perfect for this job as she has a special ability, one that she has tried to run from most of her life, but now she needs to embrace it to help keep everyone safe.
Alright I'm just going to lay this out there, I LOVED this book, I can see why it was getting so much hype last year and is one of my favourite reads so far this year. I have never read a book by Bardugo before (I know this may be shocking to some but I don't venture into YA that often) and this book was simply amazing, blew me away. It it dark, gritty, has a very grey world feel to the words and doesn't shy away from any of these traits. There are some disturbing instances and scenarios in this book that involve drug use, rape, murder and Bardugo does not simplify them or sugar coat them either, which I applaud. I will admit that it is a bit slow to start and it can seem a bit confusing especially where and how the book starts and you try to keep all the houses straight, but it does all make sense, you just have to get past that first initial bit. It also at times feels a bit pretentious but lets admit that this book is based in Yale, so I think a bit of pretentiousness is expected. However, as we get to know more about Alex, her past, her abilities and when she stops trying to fit in at Yale and be herself the book really takes off.
Alex has a troubled past and this stems from her ability to see ghosts and have unforgettable and unforgivable encounters with them when she is young. Alex turns to drugs to numb everything, not just her pain but her ability to see them. One day she wakes up in a hospital bed supposedly OD where she gets an offer she cannot refuse. Alex does try to adapt to this new prestigious role that she is given, but I love when she just says fuck it and does it her own way. Alex is smart, resilient and turns out to be a good friend, which is not a trait you are expecting when you first meet her. I like her ability to get things done, she doesn't like authority and goes ahead with what she believes is right even if it is against "orders". Alex's past has truly shaped her, from her experiences to drug use she is a strong ass woman that is for sure.
This is a contemporary set novel novel with paranormal set into our day and age. So the technology, current events and Yale feel like they are very now. I think that Bardugo did a good job of mixing the contemporary and paranormal and if you like the skull and bones type of aspects/conspiracies then you will like this book too. It really takes the secret societies or houses to the extreme, as people are willing to really do anything to achieve power and I mean anything.
I'm extremely excited to read the next book in this series, and cannot wait to see where Bardugo takes it as there are many things left unsolved with this one. I hope that Bardugo continues along with the darkness she created in this book. For me this book deserves the hype that it has been given, and if you haven't had a chance to check it out you should.