Sunday, January 23, 2011
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!
Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.
When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
This book actually surprised me. About 50 pages I was wondering where it was going- the story I was expecting was playing out way too quickly. And- I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I had the book pegged in the beginning, but it wasn't what I expected.
There is not a lot of upfront characterization in this book. I had no idea what Lily looked like (unless I read it and instantly forgot the physical description). She is on Princeton's campus for a an alumni weekend with her grandfather, and almost no attention is paid to what her life is like before. At times, it almost felt like she didn't exist before the story started. There were a few hints about Lily's life before the story starting, but nothing that I could put together in a comprehensive picture of her. As for characterization that happens as the story is unfolding- I don't know! She seemed very perfect at parts. I didn't always understand her feelings or reactions. I'm still a little confused on Lily as a character.
I really enjoyed the story. I was actually surprised at different points- this does not happen often! Various elements of the story were woven together- it seemed very well-planned. There was a lot of action. There were many more conflicts than the Book Blurb lets on. The themes were conveyed brilliantly. Moral ambiguity abounded. I was expecting a one-dimensional story- and it wasn't at all!
Again, my feelings towards Lily might cloud this one. I never really could figure out how she felt about Tye, or some of the other potential love interests. The whole relationship was a bit anticlimatic. I don't think this is a series, so it did feel unfinished to me, despite an epilogue-ish chapter at the end of the book that gives the reader an idea how things turned out for everyone.
I'm torn between 3 stars and 4 stars on this one. I definitely enjoyed it, but did have a couple of qualms with Lily.