Released earlier this week!
Thanks to Random House for the free copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE SWALLOWS – Lisa Lutz
Check out the #allthebookreviews thoughts below!
A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war–with deadly consequences–in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.
What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?
It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy’s new creative writing teacher. When the students’ answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there’s more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten–the students at the top of the school’s social hierarchy–as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.
Ms. Witt can’t remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her–including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.
As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal–and potentially fatal–consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz’s blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long–and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars
Stonebridge Academy has some secrets and the Darkroom is at the heart of it. Alex Witt, who has just joined as a teacher and quickly learns of the all too well known “boys will be boys” phenomena going on. No one has been able to stop it. What will it take and when is enough enough?
I absolutely love Witt’s character. The Blowchart she makes, while you may first giggle at the title comparative to the subject matter, you quickly learn the true meaning and the lesson behind it all. LOVE the final message. The issue here is that when there’s an academy/school such as this where certain *traditions* continue because people are too afraid to speak up to save their own asses, it turns into a vicious cycle where at the end of the day, everyone becomes a victim. Retaliations may not be worth the cost but something still needs to be done and while boys will be boys and girls will be girls – the girls will become warriors and god help those in their way.
There were moments where it lost a little spark for me but overall a fabulous read about gender wars. Behind this heavy subject manner is humor and electricity from Witt’s characters, the quiet hero in some of the boys who knows what’s wrong, the surging of power within the girls who are targets, willingly or not. Competitiveness at the price of morality. Does any of this really change? Or is it just muffled until the next wave? We’ll never truly know. It’s the heart of this story – where lessons are learned and a heavy price is paid that tugs at your emotions.
Lutz is, and continues to be, a favorite author of mine. And this cover, once you’ve read the story, really stands out and speaks volumes. I love a simple cover with a TON of meaning.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
I’ve heard nothing but great things about Lisa Lutz’s books and this way my introduction to her! I will definitely be going back and picking up her other books. I really enjoyed THE SWALLOWS – a mystery set in a prep school, teachers and students hiding things about the school, a new teacher determined to get to the bottom of things, and an impending gender war. Talk about an intriguing combination!
Alex Witt is the new creative writing teacher at the Stonebridge Academy. After a writing assignment, she quickly learns of some dark secrets the school is hiding, and something called The Darkroom. Despite many allegations and plenty of controversy, the school remains hushed about what goes on – the whole “boys will be boys” nonsense. As we all know though, hell hath no fury, and the girls are ready to fight back.
I really enjoyed the graphics that were scattered throughout the book. Those are always fun to have included and helped pull you into the story more. There were a lot of characters and sometimes things felt a little jumbled together, but that didn’t really take away from the reading experience. I think if the cast of narrators was trimmed down then it would have had a better flow to it. Despite some of the perspectives coming from students, I wouldn’t call this a YA novel because I don’t think it’s geared toward a younger audience.
Overall, I just couldn’t put this one down. I really enjoyed the writing and seeing the mystery unfold. I loved Alex, she was a great character. One you could really connect with and that Blowchart? Gotta love it. I would highly recommend this one and I will be going back to pick up more from Lutz.