Without further ado, let the review begin!
Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
Nineteen-year-old Raevyn Jones has never worn a designer gown. She's never had access to unlimited champagne or chauffeured limo rides. But when she is dropped in the midst of the Black Ivy League—against her will—she has to pretend that everything is normal, as if she belongs. When her new friends start to question her sketchy past and her shaky legacy at Benjamin Wallace Fitzgerald University, Raevyn realizes she will have to rely on her street smarts more than ever before. Raevyn starts to receive cryptic text messages and emails from an anonymous sender and she soon discovers that not only does someone want her to leave B.W.Fitz--someone also wants to end her life.
Instead of my usual format, just for this book, I'll give a brief summary of my thoughts.
There was great use of detail occurred throughout the story. The way Antoine was weaved in, especially in the first chapter and throughout, was well-balanced between showing the reader details without bogging them down with too many. This helped with immersion in the story, adding to its realism.
This story was unique due to the fact that the characters are all African-American. What a treat! Hopefully, more literature will begin to present more balanced character ethnicities. While it was great to have minority characters present, it would have been nice to see more of the black culture presented and weaved in throughout the story. For example, foods, traditions, etc. Yes, the MLK speech was a good touch, but perhaps the addition of something that non-black people wouldn't know about would have really added to the story. As an Asian-American, I'm aware that not everyone outside of the Asian community knows that many Asians often give part of their paychecks to their parents throughout their parents' lifetimes as a thanks for raising them for the first 18 years of life and, in most cases, also supporting them throughout college. Details like that about black culture would have really enhanced the story, and it was slightly disappointing to not see more of that.
It was really cool that Antoine was part of the story even though he never physically appears during it. The nickname "Bird" is incredibly clever, and added a lot of realism. Even though he doesn't physically appear, it's obvious that he's not a black-and-white character. He is deeply flawed, yet sweet and caring, making him a very realistic character. However, Raevyn's reaction to being away from Antoine was somewhat unrealistic. She did think about him a little bit, but there wasn't enough tension with the love triangle and her missing Antoine when she kissed Jeffrey, for example. More tension there would have been more realistic, especially considering what Antoine did for her. (Also, love triangles are seriously overused in general in YA literature... but I'll just not comment too much on that except to say that love triangles need to stop existing.)
Finally, while I normally don't comment on summaries, it was a bit frustrating that it took so long to get to the expected plot. Perhaps if the summary had included a little more about what was going to happen with the boys and the girls she was going to meet, it would have made more sense.
The story does get points for its twists and turns, and for not being predictable. Raevyn's reaction to what happened to Jeffrey at the end showed that she's grown up somewhat, and the ending definitely leaves readers wanting more. Overall, a few things could have made this novel much better, but it was still an enjoyable read. Due to the inclusion of minority characters, the fabulous incorporation of detail, and the unpredictable plot, I'll give this 3 and a half jellyfish. (I do round up for friends. Sue me.)
I look forward to the next book! And you should too.