Written by: Kara Thomas
Published: July 31, 2018 by Delacorte Press (Random House)
Synopsis: There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
I had really like Kara Thomas' two previous mysteries so I was excited to read this next one. I wanted to read it when it first came out but I didn't have a copy so I put a hold on the audiobook from the library. And honestly I forgot all about it until the hold came in. I needed an audio so I decided to give it a try. And while it was a good mystery, it didn't quite blow me away like I was hoping.
One thing I did like about this book was the plot development of the mystery. I am a big fan of mysteries and I am always looking for a YA mystery that isn't predictable and still has clues to solve. I like when a mystery brings everything together in the end for a big reveal which is exactly what this book did. There were a lot of moving parts and I wasn't exactly sure how they could have been connected but then by the end, everything lined up so nicely. I usually can figure out what happened in a mystery but this one surprised me a little bit. I knew one main aspect but how that played into the larger story I didn't quite know. But I do feel like the reveal could have been a little more exciting. From a procedural standpoint it was interesting but from an emotional standpoint I didn't quite feel it. After I finished reading the book I was talking to my friend Michelle and we actually came up with a really cool way we wish it would have ended. It's not that this wasn't a good mystery, it just could have been more emotional.
But I think maybe part of what the book was missing was thrilling pacing and high stake. It took a really long time for the book to get exciting. I'm with slower pacing if it ends with an exciting ending so I let that go in this book but the more I sit with it, the less okay with it I am. The book definitely had a cold case vibe to it, which is fine, but because of that the main character felt a little bit removed from the story. She wanted to figure out what happened but it didn't have any direct consequences on her life through most of the book. It's not that I wanted a body count and a threat of her being attacked but I just needed some higher stakes than I wanted to figure this out.
The other thing that I think impacted this was the characterization. I didn't really connect completely with the characters here. Monica was a fine main character and I liked her a lot in the beginning. She has to make a really tough decision in the first chapter and it definitely ways a lot on her throughout the book, but this didn't really connect to the larger story in the way I had hoped. She was a sympathetic character but I didn't quite get the empathy for her that is required for a character-driven mystery. I have read some mysteries like this, including a few recent ones, that I think accomplished this must better.
A lot of this book was really hit or miss for me. The best example of that was the setting. Kara Thomas does a great job establishing small town settings for her books. She does such a great job of establishing the interconnectedness of not only the people in the town but the people from nearby. That's perfect for mysteries because when everyone knows everyone's business it's easy to find clues and information for a mystery. But my problem for this book is that I couldn't quite place where this town was. The town they lived in was in Eastern New York State but the nearby towns were in Eastern Massachusetts. A person who isn't from there probably wouldn't even notice that but I did and it threw me out of the book completely. It's just a weird personal thing that was an issue for me.
All in all I thought this was an okay mystery. It had a lot of promise and some parts that I really enjoyed but it was mostly just an okay read for me.
I give The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas 8 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Cheerleaders? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!