Five very different students in Bayview Highschool are in detention. Bronwyn, The Brain, a straight-A student who always follows the rules; Addy, The Princess, the beautiful, perfect homecoming queen; Nate, The Criminal, is one step away from juvi; Cooper, The Jock, the future Baseball star; and Simon, the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. But Simon dies before detention ends and he had dirt on each of the students in the room. It’s clear to everyone, including the police, that Simon’s death was no accident. With each of the four students having their own reasons for wanting Simon dead, they’re all suspects.
If I had to sum up this book in a sentence it would be ‘The Breakfast Club’ meets ‘Whodunnit.’ Each chapter is a different point-of-view from one of the four main characters, or ‘suspects.’ If, like me, you’ve read a lot of crime, especially a lot of YA crime, you may find yourself guessing the ending of the book halfway through. However, I’d argue that it’s not the end of the book that makes it a great read, but the time we spend with each of the characters.
McManus adds a lot of depth to what could be card-board cut outs, or stock characters. Through each of the chapters we learn more about the characters home-lives and who they are behind the façade of their high-school stereotype. McManus does this incredibly well through the characters’ development, particularly Addy, the ‘Princess.’ It’s through McManus’s exploration of her relationships with her family and boyfriend that we get a great understanding of who she is. She also has, in my opinion, one of the best character arcs in the book.
The only draw-back I can see in this book is the romance element, but if you’re a veteran reader of the genre it’s to be expected. (It’s almost obligatory for this genre to have a romance, even a murder mystery. Trust me!) But even then, it’s still well written and not too sappy or over the top to distract from the murder mystery element. The book at times becomes self-aware, eg. the many ‘Breakfast Club’ references; some people may find this off-putting, but I think it’s a clever, if not a necessary technique to keep the characters realistic and engaging.
All in all, I’d say this book is a satisfying read if you’re a crime/YA buff. And if you’re new to either genre you’ll find it a cracking read for a November night.