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Hex

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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. Joan Kallas, is the hero of Nell's heart. Nell frequently finds herself standing in the doorway to Joan's office despite herself, mesmerized by Joan's elegance, ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Viking
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  77 ratings  ·  38 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.
Britany
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
...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!
Tess
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
...more
Lena
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
...more
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 shes having a breakdown and yet, no one seems to care about their friend. Eventually side character ...more
Drew
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!
Sarah
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nell is a botanist well on her way to a PhD. After the death of a colleague, Nell's research lab is shut down, and she is expelled from Columbia University. Nell is no longer a student or researcher, and she has just broken up with longtime boyfriend Tom. In order to cope, Nell creates a series of notebooks dedicated to her former doctoral advisor, favorite professor, and object of unrequited affection, Joan. The notebooks begin with relevant botanical references and a list of verifiable facts, ...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
...more
gwendalyn _books_
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
HEX is a sharp as teet, bold look at toxic relationships and dire obsessions.

The storyline is set at Columbia University, Nell is a botany PhD student obsessed with poisoned plants and her advisor, Joan. She logs her research and how she spends her days, but the notebooks ultimately become a painstaking a love letter to Joan as their personal lives become darkish complicated. Nells research on poison plants and their antidotes..and unrequited love..takes the reader through a series of emotional
...more
Lauren Watts
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is what Mark Watney would be reading on Mars if he had thought to bring it with him! Weird, twisty, and reaaally deep into the botany community, you'll find yourself wondering which of the characters you best relate to.

Did I mention weird?
Chris Haak
This book is more about toxic relationships and obsession than it is about poison and antidotes. It wasnt what I expected and I was a bit disappointed by it. Also, the lack of plot and the wittiness didnt really work for me here Im afraid.
Thank you Penguin US and Edelweiss for the ARC
...more
Katia
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Okay.
This book is so weird. But in its weirdness it is perfectly unpredictable and engaging and genuinely new. I laughed aloud many times while reading this, but it is not just funny, it has a depth of feeling. The writing is amazing, inventive. It really does, now that I think of it, feel like an exquisitely cast spell.
Rachel Pollock
I gave this my best shot. The use of language is poetic and beautiful, but I just cant spend time in the mind of this mentally ill obsessive. The plot is just not that interesting. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Allison
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
At face value (or at least from reading the back cover copy), I was excited by the prospect of this book. Poison? Obsession? Intricate character relationships? Sounds right up my alley. Upon embarking on the first few pages, I realized that this was going to be one of those "prose written by a poet" books. No problem. As long as I adjust my expectations (i.e., the effort level and patience I need to proceed), I'm almost never put off by "extra flowery" language. In fact, it can be downright ...more
Siobhan
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hex is a novel about obsession, complicated relationships, and poison set around a university campus. Nell Barber was expelled from her PhD after the death of a fellow student, but is still desperate to keep trying to find answers for the detoxification of poisonous plants. She is obsessed with her advisor and mentor, Joan, who thinks she should try and pursue less controversial work, and they both find themselves in a web of relationships and grudges that may be more toxic than the plants Nell ...more
Reading Mama
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Do you ever finish a book and think to yourself, "What in the world did I just read?" Here is a case where a beautiful cover cannot salvage the mess of a story that is inside. The beginning of the story starts off strong- Rachel, a botanist, dies from exposure to a toxic plant. The synopsis makes it seem like this is a story of obsession and poisonous plants. Each chapter is almost like it's own entity, with little cohesion to the rest of the story. The only thing that seems to tie it all ...more
Isabelle
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight is very different from what I expected. I will be honest and admit that I struggled a bit through this one. While I really enjoyed the writing style - I have always liked reading journaling-type books - I did have some trouble keeping up with what was going on. I realize that this was on purpose so we would understand the mental health struggle and the slow decline of the narrator, but the extremeness of that plus the total unlikability of all the characters just ...more
Kathleen Gray
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a tale of obsession and academia. Nell's lab at Columbia University has been shut down and she's been expelled from her Phd program because one of her colleagues was poisoned and died. Now, she's focused on her mentor and in a series of entries in her notebook, she writes about their entwined lives, loves, and colleagues. This is, admittedly, light on plot but there are some really amusing spots (especially if you've spent any time in graduate level academia). The relationships are ...more
Lisa
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This book starts off with a torrent of really good sentences, one after another, that take ordinary words and turn them into something extraordinary. So theres that, and those sentences turn up like that time and again. But... I cant help asking where is the where? Hex ultimately ends up in the pile of books I had a hard time finishing because, damn it, language itself isnt the only thing a novel needs. It needs a plot, a story that does something. These characters feel flat (plus they are ...more
Annie
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Nell Barber wants two things and she cant have either of them. The first thing she wantsto create antitoxins that start working immediatelyis taken away when a fellow graduate student dies in the lab. The second thing is even more elusive. Nell wants Joan, her post-graduate advisor. From early on, Hex, by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, is a study of people who cant have what they want. I defy anyone to read it without having the Rolling Stones You Cant Always Get What You Want on a loop in their ...more
M
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Can you still love someone after watching them make huge mistakes? This book attempts to answer that question with a yes. Fueled by the world of academia, the title begins with an accidental death in a research lab. Affairs, classwork, and botanical experiments make up the rest. While all the characters are thoroughly unlikeable for various reasons, they are all loveable and searching for love while making life changing errors in the process.

It's a slow read for so few pages, but that's because
...more
Diane Hernandez
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: edelweiss
Nell has lost her post at Columbia University studying poisonous plants. One of her students had stupidly died. Hex is what happens next to Nell.

Nothing much happens as far as a plot. However, the language is beautiful like a 18th century novel. To be honest, I always feel like modern literary fiction is all about the facade rather the meat of a tale. Using that construct, Hex is like a heavily botoxed weather girl. Shes pretty to look at but you wouldnt want to be forced to hear her talk for
...more
Angie
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I honestly feel like I would have enjoyed this story more if it had started prior to Rachels death and the beginnings of Nells true decline, but ultimately, Im not unhappy. Once I figure out why the style of writing was the way it was (journal entries for an academic study program) I found myself much more engrossed in the story where beforehand, I just kept getting caught up in the seemingly odd format.

I think if human dramas and stories about the intricacies of human relationships and
...more
Delany Holcomb
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I certainly was not expecting the story that flows through Rebecca Dinerstein Knight's "Hex". As Nell Barber's obsessive personality dances through the pages of this book, we see the rise and fall of relationships with colleagues as they navigate their research, work, and losses. Nell's obsession with their professor, Joan, sizzles through the lives of her and her fellow students, cracking and splitting with absolute reflective prose and vexing exchanges. A dark and bewitching story, "Hex" is a ...more
Brendan
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Inspired and inspiring. This book is all about the language, and the language is spectacular. Practically every sentence has a surprising word choice, a striking image, or a turn of phrase that makes an ordinary thing fascinating or hilarious. It felt like being pummeled with delight. Whereas I find most such distinctive voices annoying or hard work, I could have read this one for another thousand pages.

I get the strong impression that Rebecca Dinerstein Knight is some kind of genius.
Renee DeMoranville
I won this copy of Hex through Goodreads and thought it sounded interesting. Sadly I just could not get into it. But that is probably just me. They way the character kept talking in second person made it hard for me to connect with her. I still gave it three stars because the author had a good story it was just communicated to weirdly for me. Im sure though for others it will be very enjoyable. But as someone who is slightly dyslexic it was hard to follow. ...more
Lindsay Beth
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book isnt quite what I expected, I thought it was exceptional. Beautifully written, and in a style that really helps the reader understand Nells frame of mind, the story is more about relationships and obsession, than it is about poison. While I wouldve liked to have seen more poison-y creepiness, this book was a twisted, funny read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it once I really dug in. I won this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. ...more
Riley
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
both lyrical and bizarre, this book was just what i needed on a cloudy thursday morning while working from home. plus, jenny slate's narration is great, i'd listen to just about any book she narrates.
Lydia Pazienza
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway.
I deeply enjoyed reading Hex- in a time of loneliness and isolation, I found this book of yearning and obsession to be just what I needed. I love this writing style, although I could see it not being everyones cup of tea.
...more
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