Title: The Ivies
Author: Alexa Donne
Release Date: May 25th, 2021
Genre: YA FICTION-- Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
About The Book
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.
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.
Review & Favorite Quotes
I'm so happy to be working with Turn the Page Tours to participate in the promotional tour for Alexa Donne's new YA Thriller novel The Ivies. I've read Donne's previous two published books, and I have to say that her mastery of language has always impressed me. Interspersed with witty dialogue, ruthless ambition, and shifting motivations are these beautiful descriptive scenes that pull you into the scenery and make you feel the cold against your skin.
Day is breaking, the sky throwing drowsy pinks, blues, and purples over the rooftops of the nearest school buildings. It's going to be a beautiful day. A joke made at our expense.
One of the things I love about Alexa's books is how intentional she is about diversity inclusion and this is definitely present here as well. There are a few times in which I worry that certain characters of color don't get enough development but the biggest complaint I have about the book as a whole is that there wasn't nearly enough of it. What a problem to have, right?
This book was a quick read, it keeps you turning pages as Olivia, our journalistically inclined protagonist, gets embroiled in a murder investigation and worries that she might be the next victim if she isn't careful. What's even worse is that Olivia's top suspects are her only friends. Something I really enjoyed about this book was the unique emphasis on the friendships in this book, even as they started to fall apart under scrutiny and suspicion. It was refreshing to see a YA book that was focused on friendships rather than romance.
Speaking of romance, this subplot was teased but ultimately unfulfilling. In fact, I could have done without it at all. I actually would have been much happier to see her bond with one of the others girls in their group of friends over trying to solve Emma (a member of their friend group's) murder.
Shower stalls are meant for one person, not two. I wonder what it would be like if I were a dainty girl, how much less spaces I would take up, but right now I love every inch of myself.
Big Girls! I love when protagonists in YA fiction don't all have the same body type and it was alluded to several times that Olivia was not a willowy, gracefully thin teenager like most protagonists in the genre. Inclusivity and body positivity are always a plus for me. Although, I wish it were less vague in the text.
I try to hide my annoyance and lean back against one of the stalls, knowing there's no way one of those sinks would take my weight.
One of the major drawbacks in reading this book were the multitude of pop culture references. Unlike in books like Ready Player One where the references are intentional to worldbuilding and plot while also being nostalgic and quirky, the pop culture references in The Ivies were heavy-handed and made it seem like the author was trying to chase after her audience in regards to relatability. Also, there were several that I think weren't quite age appropriate for her target demographic being just a little before their time and not resonating with younger YA readers. I also worry this means that the novel itself won't age well. Though, I really enjoyed all the references to the Mean Girl's Movie with Lindsay Lohan and Lexa from The 100.
Though, indeed, spiking my protein shakes is a lot savvier than Kalteen bars.
Overall I would recommend this book to readers who are looking for a fun, fast-paced book that will keep you guessing until the very last page. This was definitely a creative stretch for Donne and I think it paid off in spades. I'll be upset if some of those loose threads left hanging don't lead to another book in this series following a college-aged Olivia somehow embroiled in another investigation as she discovers more about who she is and what her ambition might cost her this time.