I was 72% of the way through and I literally said "this better have an amazing ending" ... well, I almost rated it five stars because WOWZA.
Okay, here we go.
What I loved: the book had elements of The Magicians or even Harry Potter (magical school vibes) that I really liked, but was super character focused (like Harry Potter, unlike The Magicians) but kept to the more adult side of things (like The Magicians). I loved how all the characters took turns telling the story because it kept it moving forward even though the reader isn't quite sure what is going on ... because OBVIOUSLY, something underhanded is going on.
What I hated: there were definitely parts that ran long - like the beginning of the final third. Pieces start to fall into place quickly once you're over that hump. The book could have been 50 pages shorter and just cut that whole chunk without missing much. The ending makes up for that, but without it the book would have been a mere 3 stars.
Thoughts on Characters:
Libby: I love/hated her the whole time.
Nico: his point of view always left me wanting MORE of his point of view
Parisa: at first she seemed over the top, but then you get to know her and you understand
Reina: I listed to the audio of this and I didn't like the reader of Reina's parts nor did I like how unemotional she is
Callum: hate, double hate, loathe entirely
Tristan: I absolutely want to give him a hug from the first time we meet him
Atlas: um, something fishy is going on here
This book is good for anyone who enjoys character-driven fantasy and books that focus on magical schools. If you like The Magicians, Harry Potter, or A Divine Education, you'll like this.
Character Driven (vs World-Building or Plot Driven)
My review system is as follows:
5 stars - unbelievable, I am still talking about it, a book I'll recommend to everyone and refuse to hear any critiques of it (these are very rare)
4 stars - better than a typical read, I'll keep reading the series, really enjoyed but there were some minor issues
3 stars - average read (my most common rating)
2 stars - I didn't enjoy it, but I finished it
1 star - DNF or finished but it was awful