Mystery · YA

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

A murder mystery with a refreshing setting and perspective.

The story follows The Ivies, a group of five popular girls in an elite private school, who will stop at nothing to get admitted into the different Ivy League schools. Whatever needs to be done for them to stand out, they’ll do it, from sabotaging, blackmail, you name it. They are ambitious, ruthless and cruel. Everything is going fine, until one of them is found dead. Olivia, member of the Ivies and scholarship student, starts investigating only to slowly find out that she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought.

The plot kept me guessing who the murderer was and the motive. The list of suspects only grows as Olivia digs deeper into the web of lies, betrayals and schemes that her murdered friend was involved in. Even so, I had my suspicions and I ended up being right. It was fun to discover the motive though. The ending was realistic but also a bit disappointing.

As for the characters, Olivia is, among all the other characters excluding the police detective, the most reliable character, since she’s genuinely looking to find the person responsible for the murder. However, she is no saint. As part of the Ivies, Olivia is driven, just as ambitious as her friends and also participated in a fair share of cruel plots to get the upper-hand at her dream school, Harvard. She’s flawed and a liar, and she often justifies her actions with how anyone would have done the same to get ahead given the chance. She also constantly feels like an outsider, her complexes and insecurity about not being part of the elite society doesn’t change throughout the plot. She kept comparing herself to them and in her mind, her actions assure her a place among the Ivies.

In this group of friends, ambitious rules over loyalty and friendship, which makes the relationships shallow. Avery was the only one who showed some sort of real connection but in the end I couldn’t figure out if it was real or if she was just playing the part for her own benefit.

What didn’t work out for me was the lack of growing in the characters, particularly Olivia and Avery who remain faithful until the end to a system that screwed them over. There’s also the part of the toxic relationships they keep, learning how unhealthy and fake they are throughout the book and still changing nothing by the end of the story. It was really frustrating to see that Olivia continued to try and be a part of an elite that took away all her changes at her dream school.

I have mixed feelings about this one. It’s a great and addictive style of writing and the plot refreshing but there is room for improvement when it comes to character development.

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