The latest offering from Karen McManus has it all—crazy twists, clandestine affairs, and lots and lots of teen angst. Pitched as Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off with murder, You’ll Be the Death of Me doesn’t quite live up to that high bar, but still tells a compelling story along the way.
A motley crew
The stars of this story are three old friends who haven’t spoken since middle school. Ivy is uptight and type A, always desperate to outshine her prodigy younger brother. Recently, she lost the student council election. The shame is causing her to consider something she would ordinarily never do–skip school.
Mateo is struggling to keep his head above water as he works two jobs to support his recently disabled mother. And Cal has just been stood up by his new crush, a girl who understands him like nobody else ever has.
When the three meet in the school parking lot, they decide to relive their middle school glory days and ditch. Ivy is immediately anxious, but the other guys aren’t worried… until they find their classmate dead at Cal’s girlfriend’s art studio.
They quickly leave, but reporters have already spotted them at the scene of the crime. All three insist they are innocent, but as their dirty secrets start to come out, it gets harder and harder to trust each other.
Not enough Ferris vibes for me
Comp titles are often a double-edged sword. They usually get me pumped for a book, and sometimes the book totally delivers. Splinters of Scarlet, for example, was a perfect combination of Frozen and Downton Abbey. More often, though, when it’s compared to something I love, I am disappointed. This was no exception. This book has always been advertised as Ferris Buehler’s Day Off with murder, and I couldn’t wait! However, while the plots are slightly similar, this book has none of the humor. That’s fine—it was just a let-down from what I was expecting.
Ivy was an interesting character. I felt her pain of inadequacy and need to perform on a deep level, probably because I struggle with the same feelings. Mateo and Cal, however, didn’t connect with me. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t relate, but they just didn’t have the same spark as most of McManus’s characters.
A tight, tight pace
Despite not loving the characters, the story kept me up late turning pages. I teach middle school and am always exhausted, so usually nothing will convince me to stay out of bed past 10:30. But I couldn’t help it! The end of every chapter made me gasp. Unlike her other books, McManus packs this entire story into one day (sans epilogue). Because of this, the action never stops. It is twist after twist after twist.
And the villain. For me, stories are all about villains, especially thrillers. Even the villain is a twist in this story, and I absolutely loved it. Finally, it ended with a cliffhanger that felt very You. It’s new territory for McManus, but I can’t help hoping for a sequel?
Fans of this author will not be disappointed by You’ll Be the Death of Me. While I honestly wanted more fun from this reading experience, I got a lot of thrill, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
You’ll Be the Death of Me was published on November 30th.