Author- Karen M. McManus
Title- You’ll be the death of me
Publication Date- 2 Dec 2021
Genre- Thriller YA
Comment- I was given a free ecopy via Netgalley, the_writereads and Penguin books. I offer a voluntary review and am in no way influenced by rumours, shoddy journalism and blackmail.
Buying links- Amazon UK
Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close – best friends back in middle school.
Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together – one last time.
But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him – right into a murder scene.
They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.
When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .
Ivy, Mateo and Cal do not want to go to school today. For each of them, the day holds nothing but embarrassment, boredom and humiliation so when they meet in the car park they decide to recreate a day from when they were friends and skip school.
But their first stop ends with them walking into a murder scene of someone they all know things start to unravel.
As they try to work out what happened between them back in the past and the lies that hold them in the present their ‘best day ever’ turns into a nightmare. One with deadly consequences.
As an eighties child, I am almost embarrassed to say I do not like Ferris Bueller’s Day off. I never have. I always thought Ferris was selfish, a bully and a jerk. He’s mean to his best friend and blatantly ignores the trouble he gets other people into, all so he can satisfy his own desires. Basically, he’s an asshole.
So when Karen McManus’ book was tagged with “Ferris Bueller but with murder”, I was very dubious.
Thankfully, although the main male protagonist is a tad self-centred, the whole book doesn’t revolve around his need for attention.
What we get instead is a detailed insight into the struggles of the average teen these days. From being compared unfavourably towards siblings and the effects of the pressure to be perfect, to one-parent families struggling to make ends meet, and social media turning teens into celebrities, this book runs the gamut of High School experiences.
Each of the three main characters has their own issues going on which directs their actions and makes you understand why they do what they do, even if you don’t agree with it.
At first, I was rolling my eyes at the teens wondering why they didn’t just go to the police. But when Mateo points out that his skin colour would be seen as a sign of guilt, it really highlighted what opinion towards Police in the US has been for POC for years.
Suddenly it made far more sense to me why they would try to sort things out for themselves.
I think I had a lot of sympathy for Ivy. Although she had never been told she was ‘lesser’ to her face, her every action was coloured by something she had overheard as a child and it had caused her to overcompensate and repress until she was crushing herself beneath her expectations. She reminded me a bit of Tracey Flick in Election. (which oddly also starred Matthew Broderick)
Cal, too, recognised that his desire for a certain relationship had changed him from a lively teen into a ghost, desperately afraid of doing the wrong thing. The very definition of an emotionally abusive relationship but with a male at the centre rather than the typical girl.
Each of these characters was sympathetic in their own way and it really made you root for them to win out.
Karen McManus managed to explain the pressures of being a teen without ramming current events down your throat. She brought up the negative effects of social media and its instant ‘cancel culture’ as well as how two students with nothing more than conjecture and a platform can suddenly be celebrities. She danced over opportunistic journalism and victim-blaming and inappropriate student/teacher relations as well as gaslighting with such ease that you didn’t even realise it was there.
The thriller part of the book, with its twists and turns and exposure of secrets, was expertly done and I can’t praise her enough for her sudden reveals.
All in all I gave this book a solid 4-4.5 stars and would highly recommend it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult thriller/mystery novels, including One of Us Is Lying, One of Us Is Next, Two Can Keep a Secret, and The Cousins. You’ll Be the Death of Me will be her next novel, publishing December 2021. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels.