YA

One of Us is Lying

One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

5 kids go into detention, but only 4 come out in this YA whodunnit cum coming of age cum treatise on self-acceptance. The kid who kicks the bucket has a widely read gossip app that has targeted nearly every student in the school, and the other 4 have some massive shit going on in their lives that they desperately want to keep off of the app. As the surviving students find themselves caught in a murder investigation, they’re also each forced to expose the secrets that have been haunting them.

It’s a great premise, but ultimately it didn’t deliver. For starters, the ‘whodunnit’ aspect was pretty much nonexistent. I figured out the who, what and how pretty early on, and although I hoped I was wrong, I wasn’t. I suppose it could mean I’m a master Sherlock, or perhaps I figured it out because I’m older (by a LOT) than the intended audience, but I think really it was just that transparent.

So, ok, it isn’t really a mystery, but we have all of these stories of kids who are trying to be people they aren’t in order to please parents/significant others/friends/etc, which was somewhat interesting. Although I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, I’m not that far removed from the over-sized self-consciousness of high school to not feel any sympathy, especially given the omnipotent social media presence today that I didn’t have to navigate during my own awkward adolescence. Despite their deep, dark secrets, though, they were all rather bland and transparent. I feel McManus tried to give the characters more depth by bringing in support–the sharp-tongued, loving grandmother; the spunky sisters; the street-wise, caring parole officer. Even those relationships, though, seemed off and unbelievable, and as a whole it just didn’t work for me.

It is an easy read, which I’ll admit is part of my reasons for choosing it (it’s almost the end of the year and I am a few books away from my challenge!) I think perhaps I just need to own up to the fact that I’m no longer a young adult…

(perhaps this YA obsession is a mid-life crisis. Whatevs)

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YA

Thornhill

ThornhillThornhill by Pam Smy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The stories of two girls are woven together into this interesting and slightly creepy YA book. Mary Baines lives in an orphanage headed to closure in the 1980s. She is terrorized by another resident and seeks solace in her creation of clay puppets. In present day, Ella has moved into a house directly next to the now condemned orphanage. Also lonely, Ella spots a girl wandering through the decrepit building and finds herself drawn into Mary’s tale.

The best part of this book was the format—Mary’s story was told via her diary entries, and Ella’s story is entirely illustrated. I’m not typically a graphic novel fan, but was riveted and wanted more.

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YA

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Believe in a Thing Called LoveI Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a super cute, unabashedly predictable story of a girl’s dogged quest to find love. Desi is a sporty over-achiever who can do just about anything except find a boyfriend. Inspired by her dad’s love of Korean dramas, she concocts a formula to make her crush fall in love with her. It is cheesy but adorable, and I couldn’t help but root for Desi. The relationship she has with her father is particularly endearing.

The book isn’t earth shattering by any means, but I’d recommend it to anybody in need of some rainbows and lollipops.

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