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)