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Hex: A Novel
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Hex: A Novel

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  21 ratings  ·  13 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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by Viking
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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  21 ratings  ·  13 reviews


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Adam Dalva
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prose on another level: turbulent, bold, stylish, unique. I was hooked to the voice from the start.
Tess
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Courtney Maum
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sarah
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Lena
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
Katia
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Allison
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
Lisa
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 there’s that, and those sentences turn up like that time and again. But... I can’t 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 isn’t the only thing a novel needs. It needs a plot, a story that does something. These characters feel flat (plus they are ...more
M
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Angie
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly feel like I would have enjoyed this story more if it had started prior to Rachel’s death and the beginnings of Nell’s true decline, but ultimately, I’m 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
Rachel Pollock
I gave this my best shot. The use of language is poetic and beautiful, but I just can’t 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.
Erin
2.5 Stars
James Beggarly
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amusing and playful book in both overall story and sentence by sentence. Nell is a botanist who gets expelled from school. She and all her friends are dating the wrong people and she is in love with/completely obsessed with her professor and mentor. In fact the whole book is this hilarious screed written for her.
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