Title: Halls of Ivy
Author: Roland Nuñez
Today I am actually reviewing a book that was a request for our blog. It is the first of many on my list. Halls of Ivy is New Adult novel that focuses on a series of suicides that have been occurring on a college campus that aren’t quite what they appear to be. As it turns out these suicides may actually have more nefarious connections than simple suicides something along the lines of murder. Over all the concept of the book sounds promising but I found the execution to be severely lacking.
As a fan of murder mystery and a writer of said genera I have come to have certain expectations of a murder mystery. What I would qualify as a fantastic mystery is one where I cannot figure out who the murder is as I am reading and when I get to the end I can look back and ask myself how did I miss all these clues that were laid out here, here and here. That was not the case in Halls of Ivy. To be honest I wouldn’t call Halls of Ivy to even be a good mystery. There was no mystery or true investigative style or line that one could follow along and try to puzzle things together along with the protagonist. It was a presentation of scenes of scenes with no connections between how this one even lead to this next event or what impact certain things had on others. To be honest book was more set up and less murder mystery.
The cause behind the suicides was not even mentioned or indicated until the last third of the book and when the cause was brought up there was no question that it was the cause of the suicides. It wasn’t enough for a case to be made properly to like say the police or an authority figure but in the world of writing there was no question and the character even was strongly inclined to say this is more than likely the cause – allow me to dig deeper to verify this. This left no mystery and the book was more set up and filler than an actual mystery.
As the blurb says on the back of the book Cheyenne Winters was interviewing 21 students which indicates that it was a large cast list for the story but all the same there were several characters that added no substance to the core story or were just added filler to help make a conclusion easy and convenient. It felt a little like it was a matter of let’s make our villain a little worse and have them rape someone and by having the villain do that it helps the police realize that there is real danger with this person (despite the fact that there was more than enough that indicated that there was real danger) it wasn’t till it was revealed that they raped a person that they were considered a dangerous threat.
Another issue I found myself having with the book was how often it jumped in time and formatting. The book starts in 3rd person where Cheyenne is facing a committee about the school crisis to 1st person of Cheyene telling her story to a student bio followed by a student interview. This is all well and good and is an interesting way to present a story yet the execution was severely lacking as there were also instances where after an interview the story would shift to 3rd focusing on the students, before shifting to something else the next chapter. This was annoying and got confusing especially considering that Cheyenne came to the school late in the school year and interviews were when she was there at the school and the 3rd person narrative focusing on the students jumped to a previous point in the school year such as the first day of the school year and student orientation. Then there were scenes in the 3rd person narrative that seemed to be present rather than past. Then as the story progressed the time line seemed to coalesce and become one cohesive thing but all of it was in 3rd person even the parts that were focused on Cheyenne, which was very confusing and frustrating to me. Additionally, the student bios were not always prevalent to the story and were present throughout the story till page 251 (this is a 272 page book). I personally feel that a character bio is irrelevant and pointless at this point particularly when the mystery and story is being wrapped up.
Lastly, the ending seemed lacking, we never reach a conclusion of the hearing for Cheyenne, we only get what she thinks will be the results of the hearing, and there are several things that happen in the last chapter of the epilogue that have no bearing on the story at all save to potentially set up a second book which is advertised in the back of this first book. The advertisement for the second book in some ways reveals that Cheyenne’s predictions about her career is wrong but we don’t get the results of the hearing or the purpose really of why Cheyenne is the focus of the hearing either when she was one of many people involved in the school suicide crisis.
Overall I feel like the story of the book was poorly executed and there was a lot of fat and filler to be found in the story. The best thing I can guess with a lot of these extra characters who had little to no bearing on the main story itself is because they are going to potentially play a part in the next book. Of course this is only a guess on my part and I could be wrong and that these random side characters who did nothing more than take up space and time were just that side characters taking up space and time. It is hard to say – and to be honest I have no desire to find out – this book was a difficult read for me and it was also difficult to follow along at times. This is why I’ll give this book a 2 page rating. It had a good premise and concept, but very poor execution.