Member Reviews

There were no surprises for me in this read - and felt familiar to another novel that I have previously read. Having said that, the book is well written with good pacing.

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"The Favorites" by Rosemary Hennigan left me feeling pretty underwhelmed. While the premise of exploring the complexities of friendship and loyalty seemed promising, the execution didn't quite hit the mark for me.

The story centers on a group of friends whose relationships are put to the test over time. Hennigan's character development is thorough, but I found myself struggling to connect with any of them. The protagonist, who we follow the most, often came across as uninteresting and difficult to empathize with. The other characters, despite being well-detailed, felt somewhat cliché and predictable.

In the end, "The Favorites" just didn’t resonate with me. It’s one of those books where, despite the quality of the writing, I found myself waiting for something more to happen. If you’re someone who loves deep dives into character relationships and can appreciate a slow-burn narrative, you might enjoy this more than I did. But if you prefer a bit more plot and a faster pace, this one might not be for you.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

In "The Favorites", Rosemary Hennigan weaves an intricate web of justice, revenge, and power within the hallowed halls of Franklin University. This edgy, feminist campus novel delves into the dark corners of academia, where secrets fester and alliances shift like shadows.

Plot Summary:

Jessie Mooney, a determined law student, enrolls in the prestigious Law and Literature cohort at Franklin University. But her motivations go beyond mere academic achievement. She seeks revenge against the charismatic professor, Jay Crane, who wronged her sister, Audrey. The affair between Crane and Audrey ended tragically, leaving Audrey shattered and ultimately leading to her death. Armed with Audrey's journal, Jessie plots to entrap Crane, infiltrating his inner circle as one of his "favorites." But as she gets closer to her goal, the lines blur. Is it justice she craves, or is revenge consuming her?

Themes and Commentary:

"The Favorites" tackles weighty themes—gender dynamics, power imbalances, and the quest for justice. Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, Hennigan explores how institutions often fail victims, perpetuating a culture of silence and victim-blaming. Jessie's journey forces readers to question the boundaries between right and legal, revenge and justice.

What Works:

- Dark Academia Vibes: The novel exudes an eerie atmosphere, reminiscent of classic campus tales. The ivy-covered buildings hide secrets, and the pursuit of knowledge becomes a dangerous game.

- Social Commentary: Hennigan's commentary on rape culture and the complexities of seeking justice resonates deeply. The novel sheds light on the emotional toll borne by victims.

- Character Development: Jessie's transformation—from grief-stricken sister to determined avenger—is compelling. Her internal struggle adds layers to the narrative.

What Falls Short:

- Pacing: The middle portion of the book suffers from slow pacing, dampening the tension. Some readers may find themselves yearning for a swifter unraveling of Jessie's plan.

- Disjointed Reveals: The gradual revelation of Jessie's motivations feels disjointed at times. The narrative structure, presented as an account given to an anonymous journalist, creates unnecessary distance.

The Verdict:

"The Favorites" is a thought-provoking read that balances revenge and justice on a razor's edge. While it doesn't quite reach the level of a thriller, its exploration of societal issues lingers long after the final page. Dive into this campus novel, but be prepared for a journey that challenges your assumptions.

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I love a good dark academic book. This book brought up important topics like the #metoo movement, abuse of power between student/professor and a big one was misogyny. Sadly these are all too common in the world today and women are overlooked. This was a powerful story.

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The story started out interesting and had me engaged. I enjoy dark academia, but this wasn't quite what I was expecting. It started to drag about 30% through and I didn't particularly connect with or like the FMC. I did appreciate the insights into justice and law, but ultimately the book fell a bit flat for me.

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Thank you Netgalley & HTP Books, Graydon House, for an eARC of The Favorites by Rosemary Hennigan!

What's it about?
Jessie is thrilled to be accepted into the elite Law and Literature grad class at Franklin University. But she's not there for the reason you'd think - She's out to get revenge on professor Jay Crane. She's convinced that he is to blame for the events leading to her sister's death, and she'll cross any line to prove it.

I really enjoyed this book! There's heavy subject matter here, but so many underlying themes that are woven together in an intricate plot - revenge, injustice, feminism, power plays. I love thrillers that are set on a campus and this one brought a new, unique flavor to the game. I'm looking forward to seeing what this author comes up with next!

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This was an interesting read and a very slow burn, with elements of “me too” and dark academia. Not riveting but still a good read.
Many thanks to Harlequin Trade Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I’m always looking for new dark academia style books, and although this isn’t the secret history, it was never meant to be! However it’s still made me thing about it when I wasn’t reading and was excited to pick it up every time!

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I tried so hard to like this book but I just couldn’t get in to it. I did finish it and was satisfied with the end. It was just the characters I could get into.

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A solid dark academia story. Jessica’s anger for her sister, herself and for women in general was palpable and relatable in the academic setting, set against the backdrop of the 2016 election and the Me Too era.

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I’ve tried because I want to read this so badly. However the ARC didn’t translate to Kindle well so I’m giving up. At this point, I’ll just buy it so I can get it properly formatted. I’m really interested in this story.

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I was really drawn to the premise of this book, however the execution just did not work for me. The main character is taking someone else's word for something that may, or may not have happened and building an entire agenda out of it. I did like that the aspect of justice was brought into this and I found this to be interesting. I liked the tie in with what was discussed in the class as a way to propel the plot. By the end of the book, I kind of felt for the professor as he was not made to be dark, menacing, or suave in really anyway. There was really no climactic moment after all of this build up. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.

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The Favorites by Rosemary Hennigan

November 7, 2023 by Graydon House

Thank you @harpercollinsca and @netgalley for the gifted copy to read and review 🖤

I've been a fan of dark academia for years, so The Favourites instantly grabbed my attention. With elements of revenge, a feminist perspective, and the power dynamics in professor-student relationships, it kept me thoroughly engaged.

I loved how real the book's world felt. Crane's seminars evoked memories of my undergrad days, studying Literature at a relatively traditional university. Debates often centered around the portrayal of women in the classics, though in retrospective, we were still living in an isolated world where we didn’t challenge professors who only taught books by white men (those were the important books at that time!!) and my notion of feminism was very one-dimensional.

Samuel Johnson said, "Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged." This quote hits home for me and draws out some of the major themes of the book. Most of the narrative unfolds from Jessie's perspective as her obsession with Crane spins out of control. While I enjoyed delving into Jessie's mind, I would have loved more insight into Crane. I can’t resist a morally gray character, especially one that plays mind games and quotes the Classics. Let's be real here, university me would have been one of the girls desperate to be part of his "in crowd."

The book also explores the flaws in our legal system and questions the consequences when justice goes awry. You only have to look at what's going on in the US right now to see how rulings are politicized power tools.

If you like revenge stories that make you think, think about adding The Favorites to your TBR.

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I really enjoyed the twisty psychological and questionable legal aspects of this suspenseful thriller. Jessie seems to be an unreliable narrator and I loved the feeling of being kept off balance throughout the novel and not knowing who or what to believe. It was interesting to see the intellectual changes in her character, but how ultimately her motives did not. There is a lot to think about with this book and while I listened to the wonderful narration of the audiobook I was glad to have a physical ARC to reference at the end. The author's note and questions really added to the experience.

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This was a dark academia story and I couldn’t get into it. It starts off interesting but then fizzles and I just wanted to finish it.

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Jessie Mooney has enrolled in the university where Dr. Jay Crane a professor who her sister had an a fair with while attending the University. Jessie isn’t attending the university for her education , even though Dr. Crane teaches an elite “Law and Literature” class. You see Jessie is here for one reason revenge! She’s determined to get close to Dr. Crane and set him up for charges of sexual assault. Something her sister never did - she never had a chance before she died.
Dr. Crane is known for his “favorites,” and all of the students fight fiercely for that title. The competitiveness is very obvious among the classmates. The discussions on justice and the inequalities and balance of power add to the class, it’s when Jessie begins to feel her sense of safety that things get really interesting. She’s determined to cross any line to make sure he pays. The tension grows and other students begin to turn on eachother but how far is to far?

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A tale of suspense, twists and turns that keep the reader guessing throughout. I was reminded of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, the storylines have some similarities. A dark psychological thriller that uses the real life desperation that can come from being a "favorite" in academia. This is truly well written with characters that are bigger than life. My only issue was that it felt like the book lost momentum around the halfway point, it's definitely more of a slow burn.

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The Secret History...but instead of murder, make it about consent. Tense and sad, but also a bit of a stretch with a single student slipping into an uber-exclusive class without the professor knowing her true identity. The ending was not what I wanted, but I think that was the point.

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I read this in one day it was so good. I was fascinated by the idea of revenge that Jess planned to avenge her sister. Working with a small group of characters really allowed this story to shine as I didn’t get caught up in trying to remember everyone, however I felt a though we lost a little characterization in some of the lesser characters. I loved the relationship between Jess and Charlie, it was so sweet and really shined a light on what a caring person he is despite his family. The choice to set this novel in the lead up to the 2016 election was so good and allowed the dichotomy of what was happening on the world stage to contrast with the story we were reading. Honestly I’m blown away by how much I loved this book and all the changes Jessica underwent.

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I really enjoyed the growth and development of the main character. She went from having a hatred for the professor to understanding that he could be human and likable at times. I'm glad that she continues to point of getting him sanctioned by the school instead of letting him off because of his humanity. I liked the plot and the vivid world.

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