For Your Own Good is my first book by Samantha Downing. It is the dark academia book I’ve been craving for.
Here we follow the narration of several characters, but our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher, a professor at Belmont Academy, a private school. What I love most about reading his point of view is getting to know the inside of his twisted mind. Ted believes he needs to help his students, but his methods are a bit… Weird, to say the least. He is always out to punish his students if he thinks that will help them turn into better people. He believes these entitled and privileged kids need someone (like him) to guide them into becoming better humans. You see, Teddy doesn’t come from money, he didn’t attend a school like Belmont. And for him, that is a constant source of annoyance because other teachers who are ex-alumni seem to be always treated better than him, even if this year’s award of Teacher of the Year has been granted to Teddy nothing ever seems enough for him.
To me, it was fascinating and brilliant to have this perspective from a professor, from the “other side” of academia. Most dark academia books out there focus on the students, and even if this one does feature points of view from students, having the main focus being a professor, and this type of professor even was a genius stroke in the narrative. Teddy’s narration was sharp and instigating, I kept wondering what he would do next, and he never disappointed. The story starts very strong, and when there is a murder it only picks up from there.
This book is so frenetic, you can’t stop reading. I read it in just 24 hours because I had to know what would happen, what would be the end, and how all the parts would come together in a full circle. Several characters throughout the narrative make discoveries of pieces of this plot and orchestrations, and as a reader you’re kept on the edge of your seat, thinking how will this work out? How is it all meant to fit together. To me the ending was perfect. Sublime. It was so satisfying really and it closed the book of big, making this book a five-star and a favorite for me.
The writing was one of my favorite aspects, deep and easily devourable at the same time. It gave so much intensity to the characters and genuinely constructed them to be full three-dimensional, I love reading books where the characters feel like real people like they breathe outside of the pages, and this book delivered precisely that.
If you like dark academia read this book. If you like thrillers read this book. If you just like reading good books and good writing, then read this book. I can’t recommend it enough.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.