Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
So, 5 days before the year ends is when I read my best book of 2019. In a day. A part of me wishes that this was a standalone because I’m almost afraid of my own expectations from the sequel. They are just too damn high!
The story is centered around Alex Stern. She can see ghosts, except they’re referred to as greys here. She has had a tough life because of this superpower until she gets a free scholarship to Yale whose secret societies need power like hers.
The writing was marvelous and the plot incredible. No sentence was wasted. Every other line seemed to hold some important detail. The dialogue was witty and sharp. Even details that felt minor at first proved to be consequential. You just don’t know when the next line will strike you like a thunder. I’ll be honest, the first 40 or so pages were not easy for me to ingest because we are thrown right smack at the middle of this unusual universe. But once I was past that, there was no going back for me. There were more than a few scenes that gave me literal goosebumps. Two scenes in particular – both flashbacks – made me choke up in emotions. It says a lot about the book that the visuals are still haunting me.
And the characters? What can I say about them? Leigh deserves an award for the character of Alex. There just aren’t words for how much I have come to love her. When she says she’s been through hell, she means it. Darlington was the perfect contrast to Alex’s character. He’s all about morals and ethics. I wanted to see more of him, though. A lot more of him. I loved his equation with Alex. In fact, I loved Alex’s equation with all the characters. But special mention to the shy Dawles and Alex’s roommates Lauren and Mercy who I thought would be insignificant, but weren’t. These are all strong female characters even in their vulnerabilities.
While a part of me can’t believe I waited this long to read the book, another part of me wishes I’d read it a lot later. Because June 2020 couldn’t come any faster!
P.s. Fair warning. Triggers include – Sexual assault, drug abuse, addiction, gore, drowning, PTSD, overdose, self-harm, forced consumption of human waste.