(Alex Stern #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
I got this book earlier this year after being so delighted with Grishaverse books that I wanted to read anything Leigh Bardugo had to offer. The theme of the Ninth House was not particularly appealing but I was intrigued by what I heard about the book and the pretty cover factor was an added bonus! I was looking for a chance to add this book to a reading challenge since it covers some of the prompts like dark academia I don’t read that often. In a way I was saving it for that perfect prompt and for months I thought it was going to be for some Halloween themed reading challenge this October. In the end the I read it for Sbooktober reading challenge under the category Festivities! – Hang Out With The Pets and the prompt that I used it for was – animal on the cover! You can check out my Sbooktober post HERE. The weirdest thing I noticed that this year my animal on the cover books were mostly those with snakes! I should try and use that for a thematic post soon!
The first few chapters were a mess and produced a feeling of vertigo while I was trying to get into the book. The chapters were written in a reverse timeline and getting the sense of it all proved to be a bit challenging. There was so much unique supernatural content to grasp and the flow of the story did not give room for idling away. The action starts right from the start! The first shocking scene got me hooked and dragged into the book in an almost violent manner. The main character got herself in some pretty desperate situations but even when everything looked grim there was a certain type of energy that survivors have.
There was one other thing that made it a challenge for me to get into this book. The setting was New Heaven, Yale college and the most prominent association I have with that was the Gilmore Girls TV show. While the Gilmore Girls had a similar quirky dialogue comedy to them that is where all similarities stop. This book had a dark thriller quality that was sobering and in direct opposite of the New Heaven natural outlook. There was an excellent map of the place in the book but I did not use it a lot since the action in the book was drawing me to read on and not fall back and check who did what and where.
The one thing that made me push my rating of this book to five stars were the female characters. Every female character had at least one trait that made her somehow more tangible, more real and more relatable. While the character of Darlington is held on a pedestal usually reserved for female characters in fiction, the women and girls get to take center stage and show their strengths. It all came down to a quote from Joss Whedon:
“…men who are going to be comfortable with powerful women are going to be more powerful men”
This picture of Darlington being the perfect gentleman and a man of extraordinary talents has made me love him more. He was sort of hanging over the scenes he was not a part of. All the while the badass heroines, survivors, villains, backup characters – all of them girls and women were beautifully written!
I loved the female character representation in this book! I loved their strength and spirit. I loved how strong they are and how boldly they swing at the world around them. The array of different types of characters from young to old, good to bad, passive to driven was impressive. The more I think about all of them to more I appreciate them!
I would love to read next book in the series and I’m not in any hurry because I know that whatever Leigh Bardugo writes it is going to be an absolute pleasure to read!