Okay, I decided that since I was really fucking bored of job hunting, I would read through all of Alexandra Quick and review each chapter. Why do it with this series? Well, let's just say that I wanted to know I'd have something to bitch about pretty consistently. So I finished the first book last night, and I will say this: Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle is okay at best and really not very good at worst. At best it's a 3/5 story, but frankly, I'd mark it down because of all of the things that piss me off about it. The big issue I had with the first story is that, well, it's really rather thin. It becomes very obvious that Spoiler Abraham Thorn is Alex's father very early on, and the fact that Inverarity stretches that plot over half the story is very frustrating. There's really not much in the way of subplots other extraneous murder attempts triggered by a primary antagonist whose motivations don't make a lot of sense when thought about for longer than ten minutes. The fact that the antagonist becomes the most likeable character in the entire goddamn story despite authorial intent to sympathize with Alex is a real problem - because, frankly, I can't sympathize with Alex or Dean Grimm in any capacity. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Alex's fearless stubbornness and massive arrogance, regardless of her friends or common sense, makes it very hard to root for her in any capacity. The fact that she exploits the hell out of her friendships with both Anna and the house elves is really unpleasant to read. It's a real shame that we have to view the world through Alex's lens, namely because there are better characters that I'd rather follow, like David and Anna and the main antagonist of the story. Dean Grimm, if possible, is an impressive character if only because it takes some skill to write such an incredibly hateable human being. My first impressions were that she was a Terminator crossed with Dolores Umbridge and a massive insecurity complex, and she only grew more repulsive from there. I hate that she feels that human transfiguration, public humiliation, and punishing Alex's friends are the only ways necessary to punish Alex, and I'm a little horrified she seems to get off on it. She's also the most frequent obstacle to Alex's progress and her continuous lies serve absolutely no purpose in the grand scheme of things other than to stretch out the plot. I remember having problems when Dumbledore hid information from Harry in Order of the Phoenix, but at least he had a reason! Here, Grimm has no good reason to hide information, and you can't buy whatever half-hearted rationale she provides because you know she's completely untrustworthy. There are also some major plotholes, like how the main antagonist could have possibly been powerful enough to rig up some of those traps and still work in his position, or why he didn't try to befriend Alex with knowledge about her father so that Spoiler the Thorn Circle information - that Alex couldn't possibly have known about couldn't have fallen into the wrong hands . Or, on that note, why Grimm didn't just tell Alex about her father from the beginning and save us all the time, but I am inclined to be forgiving here, simply because this was Inverarity's first story, and I expect some bumps as things get started. As it is, the biggest problems with the first story are an unlikeable main protagonist (I would be remiss to say she does get better - although not by much), a very thin and stretched story that could be resolved far sooner for no good reasons otherwise, the main antagonist being the most likeable of the entire cast, and overall, a rather confused pay-off to any themes. I think Inverarity was trying to deliver a digression on minority rights through ASPEW, but that subplot thread gets dropped by the finale and never picked up again. The main moral thread seems to have something to do with the fact there's no heroes on either side and that seeking peace through utilitarian means is bad Spoiler (at least that's what I think, given the demonization of Journey when he tries to kill Alex) but it's muddled and lacks a certain degree of poignancy when Alex uses analogous means to accomplish her goals. However, and I will defend this, there are some things Inverarity does get right. His dialogue is reasonably good, and there's good banter. Despite repeated steps backwards, Alex does grow a bit, which I guess is progress. There are some good characters that I find interesting to read about, and I actually really liked the subplot with ASPEW and Alex's conflicted feelings about it - it's a more nuanced take than you normally see. And I really can't speak highly enough about his world-building - he makes Wizarding America interesting and pretty damn magical at points (although most of the attempts he makes at satire are way too thudding and obvious to be considered all that clever). Overall, if I'm going to be honest, I find it really hard to give this story anything higher than a 2/5, because if a story pisses me off as much as this one did on such very basic things, like having a tolerable main protagonist and having such a drawn-out plot with a really bad ending, all the world-building in the damn universe isn't going to help matters. It also doesn't help the hook of the story isn't very good, and it's hard to get into it. But I will say there is promise here as well, because there is some raw talent here and interesting ideas and characters here that I want to see explored. So, onwards into the Lands Below... no idea about what happens here, other than that a new, apparently likeable character dies at the end (yeah, that was spoiled for me). I sincerely hope this doesn't become a motif in some way. Apparently, this story is significantly better than the first, so I'm cautiously optimistic, but dreading the inevitable plotline screeching to a halt because Alex grabs the Idiot Ball or Dean Grimm feels the need to lie about everything again.