Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: As I Descended

As I Descended by Robin Talley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 8/31/16 to 9/3/16
384 pages

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

When I read Lies We Tell Ourselves two years ago, I knew I found myself a new favorite author. Which is why when As I Descended popped up on my radar, I instantly added it to my list. And having just finished reading it, I can definitely say I enjoyed this Macbeth retelling. Though I will say that this didn't compare to her debut novel.

If you've read Macbeth, you know that it involves ghosts, revenge, and a lot of death. As I Descended is no different, so do not expect your favorite characters to make it through to the end. Rather than in England, our main characters Maria, Lily, Brandon, and Mateo all went to boarding school in Southern Virginia (or at least somewhere in the South). The first three are all friends, which is half the reason why they find themselves playing with an Ouija Board. The other half of the reason stems from Lily's desire for Maria to win the Kingsley Prize. If only Maria could call on the spirits and ask for help, maybe she could finally surpass Delilah.

What could possibly go wrong with involving yourself with the spirits of dead?

The short answer? Everything. The long answer? Well a couple of people die, revenge is in the works, and regret fills the air as Maria realizes how much trouble she's gotten herself into. It doesn't help that she's unleashed a bunch of angry spirits, ones that have never been properly buried because surprise, the academy is built on top of a plantation.

I actually had an equal amount of likes and dislikes for As I Descended. For one, the plot itself made me want to keep reading. I wanted to know what the spirits had in store for Maria, and whether she could truly go through with her revenge. Maria has played by the rules her entire life, while others ahead of her have not. Winning the Kingsley Prize means a full ride to any college, and it's not like Delilah needs that money anyways. I easily related to Maria because as someone who is equally as ambitious but most often lands in second place, I understand how she feels. (But don't worry, I'm not that salty as to get revenge on everyone like that).

As for what I didn't like, well the writing itself was noticeable choppy. And also, this took place in boarding school, which I tend to not like because (get ready for the boarding school spiel) usually it's done inaccurately. And in this case, a couple of things felt incredibly unbelievable, like coed dormitories (no way you would find that anywhere), outside late at night, unsupervised around members of the opposite sex in living areas, etc. I get that it's fun to have your characters living at boarding school because they can all be together conveniently, but having gone to one, it is hard to imagine it being different.

I actually couldn't put down As I Descended once I started it, because it was that interesting. Robin Talley still remains one of my favorite authors, and I'm excited to start her other novel, What We Left Behind.    
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