From the authoress of the YA genre favorites like “One of Us is Lying”, “The Cousins”, and “Two Can Keep a Secret”, comes another murder mystery by Karen McManus, “You’ll be the Death of Me,” published by Penguin Publishers.
The story is centered around a whimsical group of three high school seniors in Carlton High and their encounter with a chilling puzzle which they are forced to solve. The book has been written in first person point of view with shuffling narratives of all the three pivotal characters, which provides the reader with an insight into the psyche and situations of all three first-hand.
The book begins with a peek into the past, where one learns that the trio knew each other from middle school, and the friendship among the three blossomed when one day they happened to skip school together and remember it by what they call it “The Greatest Day Ever”. After many years, the current story transpires when their otherwise fizzled-out camaraderie reignites when they skip school once again, but this time, they encounter a murder scene when they do so.
Mateo, a brooding and serious boy with a single mom and an orphaned cousin; Ivy, an ambitious and intelligent girl with a successful and famed couple as parents and an academically and athletically gifted younger brother; and Cal, the love-sick artist with his intellectual and professionally highly placed fathers, are the three protagonists who find themselves stuck in a riveting maze after they come across the corpse of their fellow classmate, Brian “Boney” Mahoney, the class clown who won class president election and was scheduled to give his maiden address to the school on the morning of his death. Apart from this, the other pivotal characters in the story include Ms. Lara Jaminson, the young and attractive art teacher who has a shady story of her own, and Mr. Tom Kendall, the sports teacher who is Lara’s fiance and and an important part of her story.
The book is a gripping thriller following the three teenagers’ struggles and accomplishments while trying to investigate all layers of mystery surrounding Brian “Boney’s” murder, topped with classic McManus elements of teenage speculation, outbursts, and feelings as they navigate the murder together while reviving old feelings and unearthing suppressed secrets. The story is engaging, but feels a little slow paced in the middle. Although the revelations were quite unexpected and unforeseen, yet at some points of the novel it seemed like too much was happening too soon. The plot twists were indeed gripping and kept one at the edge of their seats, but they were far too many to keep up with. What didn’t help was that the book ended on a cliff-hanger, without a satisfactory conclusion to the story, which also contained themes of rather sensitive and serious topics along with the mammoth plot of the murder mystery.
Overall, I would say that “You’ll Be the Death of Me” is definitely worth a read, however, it does not quite match the level of finesse in Karen McManus’ some other works when it comes to executing the literary angle of unravelling mysteries and connecting the dots. The book would keep you engaged, but the ending would leave you with a bittersweet feeling and a whole lot of unanswered questions and wild theories. So if you’re a fan of fantasizing endings to your favourite stories and stray away from the cannonical ending, this one’s definitely for you.
One thought on “You Were the Death of Me”
What a treat to read through this insightful and informative piece of writing. God bless.