Book Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Overall rating: 4/5
Readability rating: 4/5
Character rating: 5/5
Plot rating: 4/5
Cover rating: 5/5
Would I recommend: Yes, definitely a great read.

Goodread Genres: Mystery, Young Adult, Thriller

Perfect for: People who like young adult novels, mystery and suspense.

Book 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.”

Spoiler-free review:

I’m great at solving who the bad guy is in movies and books and I have to admit it took me a second to actually solve who it was. The writing was strong, the plot was fantastic, and the characters were flawed and definitely teenagers. The ending was satisfying, yet left a yearning for more. Mostly for Kara Thomas’ writing.

It switched POVs a few times, between Monica and flashbacks with Jennifer. I would recommend this to anyone I know who likes YA or mystery books and it’s been one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Spoiler review:

First, wow. We start off with a bang in this story. I like that abortion is just a thing that happens right off. It doesn’t fit in the story in the “oh god dead cheerleader” way, but it fits in the telling of Monica’s life and character–and later on has a huge impact on the twist. Plus tt was a breath of fresh air to see a mom just helping her with the situation and not just scream at her about it (even though she might have at first, we never saw that).

Second, if you knew me, you’d know that I’m not usually surprised by book or movie endings, even thrillers or mysteries. A lot of writers aren’t surprised by twists. We research twists every day. We are sometimes guilty of rewriting movies and books in our head to make twists better.

But with this book I had a hard time fully pinning down who the bad guy was. I had it limited down to three people. Tom, Jenny, and Brandon. I was really close, but the end still hit hard and fast.

Now the plot is about Monica finding out that the murders, accidents, and suicide of her sister and fellow cheerleaders wasn’t as solved as everyone first thought. She goes on this hunt to find the real killer and to clear her sister of committing suicide.

She doesn’t completely get what she wants though and I think that’s the part that hit me in the gut the most. I’ve been affected by suicide and you definitely spend a long time wondering what if–in the end…what if means nothing. You can’t fix it and it hurts.

But she did find the killer and it was too close to home: Brandon. I have to be honest with you, the only reason I suspected him was because of the old writing trope, you introduce your enemy and killer early. It took a long time to wedge him in where he needed to be for it to make sense but when it did the story picked up and everything got intense.

It felt like I was solving it as she was and it felt good.

I’ll leave the rest of the mystery to you, but all in all this was a good young adult novel and I’ll definitely be picking up more Kara Thomas books in the near future.



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