I insta-buy Karen McManus’ books as a matter of course now so when I got my hands on an early review copy of YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME I was so excited. I’ve never seen Ferris Bueller, but that didn’t stop this rocketing up to be my favourite McManus thriller as I read it in one sitting.
Rating: 5 stars!
Content Warnings: drug use, murder, inappropriate relationship (underage & power dynamics), parental abandonment, chronic health issues, underage drinking, needles.
About the book:
Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Back in middle school they were best friends. So, when Cal pulls into campus late for class, and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch school and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Why did they stop hanging out, anyway?
As soon as they pull out of the parking lot Cal knows why. Ivy’s already freaking out about missing class, and heartthrob Mateo is asleep in the backseat, too cool to even pretend like he wants to be there. The truth is they have nothing in common anymore.
At least they don’t until they run into the fourth student ditching school that day. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is supposed to be accepting his newly won office of class president. Which is why Ivy follows him into an empty building, only to walk into the middle of a murder scene. Cal, Ivy, and Mateo all know the person lying on the ground of that building, and now they need to come clean. They’re all hiding something. And maybe their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all.
What did I think?
YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME starts a little slow, as we have a fair amount of build-up where we meet all three of our main characters; Cal, Ivy and Mateo; and learn more about their past and present. They were all best friends, and once had an epic ‘ditch day’ where they missed school once to go on a grand adventure. As they’re gearing up to leave high school they decide to relive that day – even though they haven’t been friends for a while. Once we reach the point where they find a body, the book starts to move at a much faster pace and I was fully invested from then onwards as the reveals come thick and fast. I don’t think I predicted a single one of the twists before they were revealed and I loved the constant feeling that the rug was about to be pulled from under my feet. The ending of this in particular was a real kicker and I absolutely loved it.
I would like to have seen a little more from some of the subplots. One, in particular, felt like it should have had more… consequences than it did. I also started to feel like McManus’s books are a little formulaic now. There’s a lot of plot beats and twists that seem to come up a lot, which is absolutely not an issue for a casual reader but I’ve read all of her books religiously so I can see a lot of similarities. That being said, I still have so much fun reading them that I don’t mind that much. It’s fun to meet new characters and new plots either way. I’d love to see McManus blow me away completely, but I’m pretty happy to keep getting these gripping page-turners as they are.
Personally, I think the relationships were the strongest part of this book. The convoluted ex-best friends relationship is always fun to read with deeply buried emotions about their friendship break up. I found myself waiting to find out what secrets were going to come out, especially as each of the POV characters had secrets that were all fighting to come out. Ivy’s was the absolute worst to read and caused me so much anxiety as I waited for the other shoe to drop. I think I’ll always love McManus’s books because of how much I enjoy reading about her characters and their friendships and relationships, they really make the thrillers so much stronger.
Release Date: 2nd December 2021