Kate’s Review: “You’ll Be the Death of Me”

Book: “You’ll Be the Death of Me” by Karen M. McManus

Publishing Info: Delacorte Press, November 2021

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Book Description: Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.

Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.

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 and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.

Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novel!

It’s almost guaranteed by now that whenever Karen M. McManus releases a new book, I’m going to have a helluva fun time reading it. So when I saw that “You’ll Be the Death of Me” was coming out at the end of 2021, I was absolutely hyped. And I am so happy to say that this one MIGHT be my favorite of hers yet. Which is high praise, since I enjoyed all of her previous books. And it’s kind of funny that it’s my favorite, because it has a lot of winks to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, a movie that I don’t particularly enjoy outside of Cameron and Jeanie. But that said, one of our main characters is basically a Jeanie, so maybe it’s not surprising after all.

Look, if you don’t like Jeanie Bueller, I don’t have time for you. (source)

“You’ll Be The Death of Me” centers on three former friends. The first is Ivy, a high strung Type A overachiever who tries to be the best at everything because she feels her brother is favored over her due to his intelligence. There’s Mateo, a quiet kid who lives with his cousin and his newly out of work mother, who is dealing with a medical condition that is prohibitively expensive in its treatment. And there’s Cal, a wise ass loner who is pining after someone he shouldn’t be. When they spontaneously decide to ditch out of school one day, they stumble upon the dead body of a classmate. On top of that, they all have a connection to the crime, and they all have dark secrets. The question isn’t so much if any of them did it, as we know they didn’t. The question is who did, and what secrets ARE they hiding that could be related. We alternate between first person perspectives of all the characters, and we get into their personalities as well as the complications of their former friendship that kind of fizzled out over the years, as friendships sometimes do. I had a true affection for all of them as we got to know them, and I thought that they were all pretty realistic in some of the choices they made and how they reacted to the situation they were in. I especially liked Ivy, as her desperation to be a high achiever and her insecurities were very relatable. It’s a character type we’ve seen a couple of times in McManus’s books, and I thought that Ivy was the most well rounded version of the trope in both her character strengths and weaknesses. And I thought that the way she portrayed all of them together felt very real, especially as we slowly find out the reasons that they stopped hanging out. Let’s just say it’s all very mundane, but in a good, true to life way.

And as for the mystery and the various reveals, be they connected to the murder or not, I was genuinely surprised and stumped for basically the most of the book! There are some really good twists and turns in this book, and when I thought that I had something figured out, or pegged something for a red herring, I was never quite on point. We get the clues interspersed with insight into how the community, specifically the school community, starts to theorize and start rumors about what happened, and how dangerous that kind of thing can be in terms of misinformation. And the mystery is quite complex, with threads reaching out to other characters that I didn’t expect, and going to some pretty dark places, involving the opioid crisis and grooming. And McManus made these themes fit into the overall story pretty well, and handled them in responsible and empathetic ways. And the best part? There is the possibility of a sequel that’s been set up here. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fine, of course. But I would absolutely read to see what happens next.

“You’ll Be the Death of Me” is supremely entertaining and a good mystery. With winter setting in, add this to the reading pile to get through these upcoming, colder months!

Rating 9: Supremely entertaining and a well crafted mystery with likable characters. McManus is still a titan in the YA thriller community!

Reader’s Advisory:

“You’ll Be the Death of Me” is included on the Goodreads list “YA Suspense/Thriller/Mystery”.

Find “You’ll Be the Death of Me” at your library using WorldCat, or at a local independent bookstore using IndieBound!

4 thoughts on “Kate’s Review: “You’ll Be the Death of Me””

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