Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: You'll Be the Death of Me (book) by Karen M. McManus

You'll Be the Death of Me is a YA mystery/thriller. I bought my copy new.

This review includes spoilers.


Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close friends due to the Greatest Day Ever, a time when they all skipped school together and had an amazing day. They've since drifted apart, and they're now all in high school and mostly hang out with different people. But the Greatest Day Ever still ties them together, so when Ivy is faced with coming to school after a humiliating senior-year class president election loss to Brian "Boney" Mahoney, she easily agrees when Cal suggests that the three of them skip school together like old times.

Unfortunately, the Greatest Day Ever isn't exactly something that can easily be replicated. Things go from vaguely disappointing to horrible when the three of them spot Boney (who should be at school, delivering his acceptance speech), follow him into an abandoned building, and then discover his body. For various reasons, none of them want to be around when the police arrive, but the end result is that Ivy becomes the prime suspect in Boney's murder. Finding out what really happened will involve digging into all of their secrets and getting to know the people they've become since they drifted apart.

This entire book takes place during the course of one school day. This was probably supposed to mirror the Greatest Day Ever, but it was also a necessary limitation on the story, because the entire thing would have fallen apart if it had dragged on for more than a day. It certainly would have fallen apart if Ivy, Mateo, and Cal had taken the time to talk to some responsible adults (Ms. Jamison doesn't count).

Ivy and Mateo initially reminded me a lot of Bronwyn and Nate from McManus' One of Us is Lying. In the end, though, I liked Ivy and Mateo as a couple a lot more than Bronwyn and Nate. It warmed my heart that Mateo knew Ivy was an anxious over-thinking mess and totally didn't mind.

All three of them had huge secrets. Cal's is revealed relatively early, and the way it was handled in the end kind of irked me - he's in a relationship with his art teacher. Once I found out about this, there was one thing I figured was guaranteed to happen no matter how things turned out with Boney's death, and yet somehow that thing did not happen.

Honestly, the book's ending is infuriating on multiple levels. It reads 99% like a standalone, and then the last couple pages swoop in an turn it into something that practically begs for a sequel. Which I would mainly only want to read if I was guaranteed, in advance, the ending that this book should have had.

I can usually count on McManus' books to be decent reads, but this one missed the mark.

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