Rating: 3.5 stars
I am torn. This book kept me reading, and I was always anxious to get to the ending. However, I felt like the build up to the ending was a little rushed, as we spend a huge part of this book reading about things that don’t actually pertain to the mystery itself. Then, all of a sudden, someone who hasn’t been a part of the mystery (or even really the story besides a few mentions by another character) just up and solves 75% of it! This threw me off a bit.
I also was not a huge fan of how much time the book seemed to waste on the relationship between Browyn and Nate. I get it: the book is full of stereotypes and we can’t exclude the bad boy falling for the nerdy girl. They were an arguably cute couple! I understand why readers ship them. I really do. BUT, I could’ve done with a little less Browyn/Nate time and a little more mystery solving.
I’m not quite sure how comfortable a lot of readers will be with using Cooper’s sexuality as a plot line, but I do know that a lot of readers will connect to the story and how awful Cooper being outed without his consent must have been. Another red flag for me was that depression is portrayed as, well, villianism. In this book, it’s something that causes someone to plot their own suicide and destroy the lives of other’s with it. Simon literally compares himself to school shooters. I liked a lot of aspects of this story, but making homosexuality and mental illness be plot lines and scapegoats felt really off to me.
I did suspect that Simon may have committed suicide, but the author of this book does a wonderful job of making you suspect literally everyoneat some point or another. McManus makes each main character lovable and nontrustworthy at the same time. I found myself wanting to shield Browyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate from all of the horrible things happening in their lives more than once. You almost want to soothe them and take care of them. However, they each all have little hidden secrets and lies that throw you off each time you convince yourself that none of them could possibly be guilty. McManus mastered this part of a mystery.
I have to admit, while I disliked Jake throughout the entire book for the way he control Addy in their relationship, I never once considered him to be anything more than a shitty boyfriend. When he started to get mentioned in the Murder Club’s meetings, I didn’t even give him a second thought. I assumed he was a passing theory. I had a inkling that Simon may have killed himself, but McManus gave me a run for my money when she made Jake guilty of carrying on Simon’s work. I mean… Jake? Really? I’m still not entirely convinced. He was a control freak, sure. And a pos for the way he treated Addy. But to somehow be nonchalant throughout the whole thing, pretending to never know that Addy had cheated on him, to carrying out everything perfectly, to plotting to send Addy to prison… I didn’t think he was capable of anything besides being a jackass. Honestly.
Overall, McManus wrote a book worthy of not putting down. It’s a fast read, and the plot throws you loops and has surprises lurking behind corners. The different POVs get a little difficult to keep up with at times, but it’s done impeccably, which is not always the case for multiple point of views. It’s not the next Breakfast Club, it’s a novel on its own. It’s a good, thrilling read. I’m excited to read more to come from McManus.