Book Reviews

The Ivies by Alexa Donne: Blog Tour & Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

Expected publication May 25th, 2021 by Crown.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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 Turn the Page Tours and the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Olivia is one of The Ivies: the infamous clique at Claflin Academy known for its members’ mission of getting in to Ivy League schools – and the lengths they’ll go to achieve it. They spend their days subtly sabotaging their classmates to steal themselves the coveted club leadership roles and academic awards so that they look more impressive for college admissions. To avoid any competition between themselves they’ve all been assigned one Ivy League to aim for – decided on by the group leader, Margot.

But Olivia’s not quite like the rest of them, she’s a scholarship student for one, and two, she can’t help having her heart set on Harvard… even though she’s supposed to apply to Penn. And when early admission results get sent out, and not everyone gets in where they expected, things take a nasty turn. And suddenly Olivia has to figure out more than just which university she’ll be attending next year – but who would kill for the chance.

After closely following the American college bribery admissions scandal in the news the last couple years, I couldn’t help being intrigued by this novel’s premise! Being Canadian – where university is definitely not as competitive (or expensive!) as it is in the States – it’s hard not to be fascinated by how seriously people in America take admissions to Ivy League schools – and the lengths they’ll go to procure them.

Maybe it’s from being raised on the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard and the Private series by Kate Brian, but I’m a sucker for a good YA mystery/thriller. Set it at a boarding school and throw in some dark academia vibes? I am sold. So, you can bet how excited I was to dig into the story of The Ivies, and I’m so pleased to say that it did not disappoint!

Setting a thriller in the “cut-throat” world of Ivy League collegiate admissions (pun intended) was such a fantastic idea given the current climate, and Donne really excels here, likely due to her own personal experience working as a college admissions mentor. This book manages to both feel outrageously out there and totally believable all at the same time. I think many teen readers, whether they live in the States or not, will find this book surprisingly relatable, and given the way things are going nowadays, honestly not as far-fetched as we’d hope.

The Ivies is such an entertaining read, and a great discussion on how competitive and toxic the college admissions world has become. While I saw most of the plot twists coming, it was so well written that I couldn’t pull myself away even if I had an inclination of who did what, because it wasn’t even about WHAT happened more so as it was about HOW it all went down. And boy, did A WHOLE LOT go down.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was that there were so many reveals – it always kept you guessing even if you’d thought you’d figured it all out! And everything got wrapped up with such a neat bow at the end, so you weren’t left with any unanswered questions, but nevertheless had a lot to think about. This is a book that will stick with you long after you turn the last page, and one you’ll want to re-read it almost immediately after you finish.

About the Author

Alexa Donne is the author of Brightly Burning and The Stars We Steal, YA sci-fi romance retellings of classics set in space out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her next YA, THE IVIES, a thriller set in the world of competitive college admissions, will be out in May 2021 from Crown/Random House. A graduate of Boston University, she works in TV marketing and has done pro bono college admissions mentoring since 2014. A true INFJ, in her “free” time she mentors with WriteGirl, runs the Author Mentor Match program, and manages one of the most popular writing advice channels on YouTube. She lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. You can find her in most places @alexadonne.

Buy The Ivies


Up for grabs is ONE (1) finished copy of The Ivies by Alexa Donne. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from May 23rd to May 30th at 12 AM CST. To enter, click the link below!

~ Check out the rest of the tour schedule here! ~

Have you read any nail-biting thrillers lately?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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