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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,550 ratings  ·  314 reviews
'Wise, funny, suspenseful' JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER

'Reads like a botanist's cross-breeding of The Secret History and Department of Speculation' Emma Straub

Nell Barber, an expelled PhD candidate in Biological Science, is exploring the fine line between poison and antidote, working alone to set a speed record for the detoxification of poisonous plants. Her mentor, Dr. J
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Viking
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Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,550 ratings  ·  314 reviews

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Adam Dalva
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Prose on another level: turbulent, bold, stylish, unique. I was hooked to the voice from the start.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
3.5 Stars
Nell Barber is a scientist studying the relationship between poison levels and oak trees (totally separate projects). The reader comes in fast and furious knowing the lab blew up and Nell is suffering from the backlash. The writing is a stream of consciousness style that goes on and on and on.

It started off extremely strong- was thinking a 5 star read, Nell is snarky, observant and downright bold in her analogies. I loved reading about how broken she became and how obsessed with her pro
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book is a bit insane but I loved the narrator and her way of seeing the world. The writing is surprising and funny. In the same year of reading Real Life, it was strange to read another novel featuring a science grad student fumbling through the world in the small circle surrounding their existence, only here the narrator is speaking most of the time to her dissertation advisor, and all of this takes place after a labmate has died of a plant poison absorbed in the lab. The circle is a group ...more
Courtney Maum
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A total astonishment-- one of the best and most original books I have read this year, in years. The humor, the intelligence, the weirdness, the loneliness, the sensuality, it's all there. I loved it. Pre-order this book now! ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
HEX is puzzling, dangerous, and compulsively readable. Set at Columbia University, Nell is a botany PhD student obsessed with poisoned plants and her advisor, Joan. The book is written as a sort of love letter to Joan as their personal lives become complicated and intertwined. It is shocking and humorous, and as sharp as teeth.

You will want to give Nell a big hug - she is a lost character and as the reader, you can see where she is being led astray and it will break your heart. Unrequited love
Aug 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, how to describe this book? Written as journal entries by Nell, an expelled PhD student from a biology program, it unwinds the threads of her two obsessions: poisonous plants and her academic mentor, Dr Joan Kallas. Nell is maybe in love with Joan, or else wants to be her, or at the very least wants her constant attention-- something hard to get since an accidental death in Nell's lab closed the whole department. Nell attempts to carry on the research of her diseased colleague from an unfurn ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
2.5 stars

(#gifted @bloomsburypublishing) It's always a tragedy when a cover is THIS pretty but the story inside doesn't really live up to its potential 😭 I had high expectations for Hex, with its dark academia vibe mixed with poison and botany. 'A beautiful, spooky spell,' says one reviewer; 'Hex is some dark and joyous witchery', says another. I only wish I could have read what they read.
The story (such as it is) is narrated by Nell, a PhD student specialising in Botany, or more specifically t
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
August 07, 2020: Hex can (h)excellently sorry I had to do it grow on readers who appreciate something so perplexing that it's undeniably difficult to put down. An unusual second-person narration through an obsessive botanist who easily channels a dark witchery vibe and a prose laden with scientific musings, this literary fiction surprises with the complexity of many desires, unrequited love, and a mind that breaks along with the heart. Poisonous plants, taxonomic facts, and romantic entanglement ...more
Lucy Goodfellow
Mar 17, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
⭐1 Star ⭐
I'm so disappointed by this book, it doesn't deliver on its promise of poison or obsession and instead invites its reader into the scattered mind of a botanist incapable of growth. The second person writing could create a spellbinding effect if it were executed more thoroughly as in You by Caroline Kepnes, but here it feels like a lacklustre attempt at uniqueness.

In the beginning, I thought Nell would be a modern Victor Frankenstein, broiled in her obsession, but her writings betray the
Absolutely loved the narrative voice and the unique, quirky, insightful writing. Excellent narration by Jenny Slate in the audiobook. The protagonist Nell's obsession with her older professor Joan felt very real and very queer. I wanted a bit more story wise about the poisonous botanicals and less about the romantic entanglements, especially the two men who were unworthy of all the women. ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found an advance proof of this book in a Little Free Library box in San Francisco. It is strange to be writing a book review from the future. As a random person not connected with the author in any way, I feel obligated to note that my reading this book was a whim of fate.

This book is not really about anything other than the ugly incestuousness of social groups in academia. I found the plot, or lack thereof, pretty dull. Not enough poison. I wanted more poison. :-(

I will say that the most irri
Saimon (ZanyAnomaly)
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are into plants and botany; people with unrequitted crushes
Shelves: arcs
"I'm building a new aconite that accepts it's own opposite. Think of it as me and you alone together. A poison that undoes itself."

Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight started with poison. It started with a death. It started with promise. But I am not quite sure it withheld its promise. It just tapered off towards the end for me. But we're getting ahead, lets start from the top:

Hex is about Nell (a rather Eleanor Oliphant-ish character), who has just been fired from her university along with her tea
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booktopia-2020
This was an odd little book about a woman graduate student who specializes in poisonous plants and she gets expelled when another student working for her dies from ingesting some of them. I was taken in by the blurbs that described this as The Secret History meets Department of Speculation. I couldn't agree less.

The book is low on plant information and high on exploring the toxic relationships of Nell and the people in her orbit. Nell seems a bit of a nihilist except when it comes to passion for
I don't know 100% about plot and character. But Rebecca Dinerstein Knight wrote THE SHIT OUT OF this book.

I went into this knowing nothing - the cover had flowers and the name was witchy. Those are in my wheelhouse and so it was enough for this book to make it onto my tbr.
Within a few pages, maybe even a few lines, I was just big heart eyes emoji.

This might be my most highlighted book, and it's only 224 pages long. Which means a HIGH density of QUALITY sentences and beautiful imagery, clever
Dec 17, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hated this and hate myself for bothering to finish it when it was just not my thing. I blame the fact it was so short- still didn't make reading it easy. 1.5 stars. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, giveaways
What an odd little book.
Rachel Watts
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just phenomenally good. Funny, punchy, warm, angry and casually witchy. And that narrative voice!
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All things plants & relationships, I devoured this in two days. Sometimes a banana with coffee is really nice.
Addie BookCrazyBlogger
Feb 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc-s
Hex follows Nell, a recently expelled student from Columbia University, whose project of finding cures for botanical poisons, headed by Joan Kaller, has just been shut down due to the death of another graduate student. Nell appears to be lost, having just broken up with her boyfriend Tom and begins to try to re-create the experiment on her own, in her new apartment. Everyone around her knows that she’s having a breakdown and yet, no one seems to care about their friend. Eventually side character ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deliciously twistedly wonderful. This book is pitch black but also hilarious and full of weird thorny energy that I absolutely adored. A PhD student dies after being poisoned in her lab (self-inflicted accident) and one of her labmates kind of loses it. Hijinks ensue, including relationship drama and also lots of talk about plants!
Robin Bonne
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This was a fairly short audiobook, about 5 and a half hours long, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The MC was interesting and I was consistently entertained by her observations.
Recently, I’ve read a few long, overwritten books that have left me drained. This was the exact opposite and I would have enjoyed a few hundred more pages.
May 29, 2020 added it
I love books where everyone is just so mean to each other
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was odd... not sure how I feel about it but I would’ve liked less incestuous academia and more botany and poison.
The Lit Bitch
May 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
When this book first popped up on my radar I was screaming inside YES! I was drawn in by the cover and description and when I started reading it, I felt like it was going to be a solid and different writing style.

I love science and botany and this book promised that as well as some dark academia which I thought sounded like a unique mix so obviously I went into this book with some pretty high expectations.

While I don’t know that I loved this one, I did enjoy some aspects and would gladly read so
Susan Ballard
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 / 5 🌟

I can admit the intriguing cover drew me to this one. But then I saw a few less than stellar reviews, so I set it aside for the time being.

I’m glad I decided to take a chance on Hex. While I will admit it is written in a unique voice (largely 2nd person, with added inner dialogue), I found it witty, academic, and a bit angsty. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, as I’m not sure that in reading it you would get the same experience.

Nell has recently been expelled from the Ph.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange book I need to ponder but that I did enjoy quite bit !
Some magic, some herbs, devastation.
Aug 31, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Far less about botany than I'd been hoping. ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
on one hand this book has some of the most stunning prose i’ve read in a long while and i love the narrator’s voice. the story itself lost me some times though and it isn’t really a book i want to reread anytime soon either. maybe in the future, but then only because of the prose. so i’m kind of torn about how to rate it..
Mr Pink ink
I was completely blown away by this book!

Even though I'm pretty sure this book has its problems, I am fully satisfied to not nitpick it apart in order to preserve my absolute enjoyment of it!
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