The Ivies – Alexa Donne – ARC Review – 500th Blog Post!!

Title: The Ivies
: Alexa Donne
Genre: YA, Mystery
: May 25th, 2021 (Crown BYR)

Synopsis: 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.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Ivies are a group of five girls at the elite private school Claflin Academy with one mission: to get into an Ivy League college by any means possible. Except, things don’t go according to plan. When Avery gets rejected by Harvard and Emma who was not supposed to apply at all (since Harvard was ‘Avery’s school’), gets accepted, they have a huge fight. The next morning, Emma turns up dead. Olivia is determined to get to the bottom of this and find out who the killer is. The Ivies are willing to go to great lengths to get what they want, but does that include murder?

The Ivies reads like a cross of Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars and it was a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish. It was an interesting way to explore the stressful process that is college admissions and what high schoolers face. I really liked the way the story was written, and the tone and pace of the narration was very good and perfect for the mood of the story. There was certainly a lot of drama too, what with each of the girls hiding some major secrets, the many plot twists and all those red herrings that keeps the reader guessing for most of the book.

The characters were all really interesting, and I was quite impressed that despite the fast faced of the story, the author was still able to build some pretty complex backstories for all of them. Avery, the leader of the Ivies starts out as the classic mean girl, but with the path her arc went down, she actually ended up being my favourite of the lot. Margot didn’t get too much page time so it was a little hard to get a good idea of her character. The same goes for Sierra, who appears more often, but I couldn’t really make up my mind. As for Emma, she appeared quite unassuming on the surface, but just like the others, there was a lot more that she was hiding and unravelling her secrets and piecing together the clues over the course of the investigation was fun.

While the mystery was great and I really enjoyed it, I felt that Olivia, the main character and narrator was just not that interesting. Her sleuthing aside, I just feel like I’ve seen the scholarship student at a rich school trope too many times. Plus, she is more like the Ivies than she cares to admit and with how things ended, I didn’t get the feeling that she was changed in any way because of what happened, which was a pity, because it would have been a great opportunity. Also, while I get that this is a YA novel and the focus is largely on the five girls, it didn’t seem like Detective Cataldo really did much and all the scenes where Olivia talks to her were just boring and didn’t contribute much

Though the culprit seemed rather obvious when everything was said and done, the mystery itself was masterfully constructed, and apart from Olivia and the detective, everyone looked suspicious at some point. The tension was maintained beautifully throughout the story and this is one book that will be very hard to put down. Highly recommended!

The Ivies releases on May 25th, 2021.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!


14 thoughts on “The Ivies – Alexa Donne – ARC Review – 500th Blog Post!!

  1. Jodie | That Happy Reader May 11, 2021 / 9:44 am

    Wow – 500 blog posts! Congratulations! This book really has me intrigued and I will be looking out for it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. CristinaR May 11, 2021 / 10:18 am

    This sounds quite an interesting mystery! I guess a bit of a shame for the main character and obvious culprit, but it seems like a total page-turner! Great review x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) May 12, 2021 / 7:56 pm

      Thanks! I was kind of disappointed that after all the build up the culprit was among the most easily suspected characters, but apart from that this was a great read!


  3. Rebecca May 11, 2021 / 11:43 am

    Congratulations on hitting 500 blog posts! That’s pretty awesome. I hadn’t heard of this book before but I liked some of the comparisons you made so might have to check it out ☺️✨

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jaya Avendel May 11, 2021 / 4:37 pm

    The Ivies is a snappy name and, wow, that synopsis delivered! Murder is not an extracurricular?
    Despite this sounding like an engaging and sometimes funny read, I also find the desperation behind these girls’ motives just in touch enough with real life to be chilling.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) May 12, 2021 / 8:04 pm

      Lol yes, the synopsis had me adding it to my TBR in seconds. I agree, as good as the mystery was, it’s also important to take a look at the other topics it touches on, in this case, how stressful and competitive the college admissions process can be. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephanie May 11, 2021 / 4:40 pm

    I’m not usually a huge fan of murder mysteries, but this one sounds pretty interesting. I like that you described it as a cross between Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars. I was thinking Gossip Girl too, based on the description. Maybe I’d end up enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person

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