From Mean Girls to Pretty Little Liars, I'm a sucker for a group of girlfriends with a secret. As soon as I read the summary for The Ivies, I knew I had to request it and was thrilled to be approved.
Set at an elite boarding school where competition for a spot at an Ivy is matched only by the wealth of its student population, Olivia struggles to find balance. A scholarship student who wants nothing more than to go to Harvard, she fights for her place among the cream of the crop: The Ivies, a group of girls determined to obtain their acceptances to the colleges of their choice. But when one of the girls deviates from their plan, someone ends up dead, and Olivia realizes that breaking rank may be more dangerous than breaking friendships. I really enjoyed this book. As a protagonist, Olivia was fun and endearing. I related to her desire to prove herself academically and socially and found her sarcastic lens entertaining. She keeps the plot moving, jumping from one clue to the next while juggling her unrequited crush and her fear of her secret being leaked. There was no shortage of suspects and motives to go around, but this was a plot-centric book, which I thought worked well here. We get general glimpses into the lives of the other characters, but the main focus is the crime and figuring out who among them is a murderer. This really reminded me of Pretty Little Liars but without the plot holes. In that vein, I did think there was a bit too much repetition at times, from back stories to Ivy break downs to reiterations of clues, and there's always a grain of salt when a teenager is solving a murder mystery faster than a seasoned homicide detective, but these types of narratives aren't reliant on plausibility so much as making sure each scandalous piece fits into a thrilling, fast-paced investigation--which Donne does easily. I read this in a single sitting and could easily see this being made into a Netflix series. Overall, The Ivies is a fun, sharp read that takes college admissions to a whole new level of intense. For fans of PLL, Mean Girls, Pretty Little Things, or A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, The Ivies is out in May and will definitely be one not to miss. Big thanks to RH/Crown and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.