1 Star Reviews

Book Review: Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Six students at an elite university decide to play a game of dares with increasingly outrageous challenges and consequences. There’s £10,000 and personal pride on the line, and the relationships between the players begin to fray, eventually reaching breaking point with tragic consequences.

Perhaps biting your tongue was the only thing that kept the worst parts of you hidden from the world.

I picked this up because I came across it listed as an ‘underrated dark academia’ book but it missed the mark. Honestly, I really struggled to stick with this book.

I don’t know if ‘thriller that takes place in an academic setting’ is enough to qualify a book as ‘dark academia’, personally. For me, this had nothing of the charm of other dark academia titles I’ve read and I could tell this was the case pretty instantly. Still, I figured it would still be a good enough read, but I started debating ditching this around the 50-page mark. I decided to stick with it for whatever reason – probably due to the fact that I was using it to fulfil a readathon prompt and didn’t want to have to find another book at short notice – and by the time I realised I really didn’t want to finish it, I was too far in to quit.

My main gripe with the book was the characters, none of whom were likable, believable, or interesting. They all felt very two-dimensional and the dialogue seemed stilted; they seemed to talk with the same mannerisms and tone despite much being made of their different backgrounds, particularly Chad (the American) and Emilia (the Northern miner’s daughter). The ‘Game’ seemed not only non-sensicle but sort of boring. It was like every consequence was just ‘Share terrible and loud opinions in public’. I’ll give props for not seeing how this was going to end, but I don’t know if that’s down to originality or simply my just not caring enough to contemplate it for the time necessary to form an expectation. The ending isn’t even particularly thrilling and made me wish I’d just thrown in the towel two hundred pages earlier instead of being dragged through such a bland story.

Rating: 1 star

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