17 Apr 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Alex Stern #1
Source: Audible
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: October 8, 2019

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.

This felt like it wanted to be a mix of The Magicians and Harry Potter but edgier and it was mostly just a tedious novel that ended up being a huge disappointment. I love Leigh Bardugo's work and was super excited for this one and it was just so meh. 

It took me SO long to listen to this and I have my audiobooks read to me at 3x the speed! This should not have taken me half as long as it did. But I found myself not caring and not wanting to go back. There was a cliffhanger ending to set up the series and I just don't care.

The setting itself should have been enough for me: Ivy league setting with a switch between Winter and Spring that has dark secrets and societies. Throw in a murder mystery and ghosts and you've got me hooked. But nothing was ever fully done, fully there, and I never felt like I was brought into the magic of it all. 

I thought the characters were plain and not as well developed as I would have liked. They felt like caricatures rather than actual human beings to me. Their actions were also formulaic - based on their position in the book, as well as the timeline for the book, they had to do certain things to push the plot along. Which I did not enjoy.

On top of that, there were extremely triggering scenes: there are graphic rape scenes, sexual assault on vdeio, suicide, PTSD, grief, self-hom, drug use, murder, and so many more that I am probably forgetting. Because it was basically a mixing pot of all the dark things Bardugo could think of pushed into one book.

I feel like this was basically just an "edgy" version of The Magicians that missed all the points, didn't have strong characters, and made me put down the book multiple times, almost causing me to go into a reading slump in the middle of a quarantine. I definitely don't know that I recommend it.

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

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