Publication: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤
“Pain isn’t supposed to teach you anything. It only exists to hurt you,” (Thomas, 5).
I’d been looking forward to reading The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas for a while. It was the cover that got me, I love me some minimalism and the beige with the cheerleading skirt and splashes of blood sold me on it before I even knew what the story is about.
In the town of Sunnybrook there aren’t any cheerleaders, or at least there hasn’t been for five years. Two of them died in a car accident, and two more were murdered in their home, though the murderer was found and killed not long after. But then Monica’s sister Jen killed herself, and the tragedy of the cheerleaders was too much for Sunnybrook so now they’ve swept them away. Five years later Monica is still struggling with her sister’s death and all she doesn’t know about it when she finds a note in her police officer stepfather’s drawer that insinuates someone else may have murdered the other two cheerleaders, leading Monica on a mission to find out what really happened to the cheerleaders, and if her sister really killed herself.
The book definitely had a lot going for it but sometimes it seemed like too much, like it was dragging at bits. The information Monica dug up seemed to far apart from each other leaving a kind of dull feeling for the mystery. Unlike most mystery books, I wasn’t excited to discover who murdered the two of the cheerleaders and if they were responsible for the others, I just wanted to know because I was impatient.
Usually mystery stories also leave some breadcrumbs to follow to find out who the culprit is, and while Thomas did do this it didn’t seem to be enough. It was like Thomas deliberately held back so that the guilty person wouldn’t be caught, but I like to guess when I read mystery novels, but I couldn’t guess with this one.
There were a lot of positives in The Cheerleaders though. Thomas starts us off with a bang with a plot device that really isn’t talked about a lot in YA and I really have to give her credit for how she wrote and handled it. There were a lot of other very casually dark references that were never brought up again that I loved, eluding to the secrets we keep and the secrets we hold.
I also thought the novel depicted a very interesting look at grief. The book follows Monica’s grief five years after her sister’s suicide and I loved that it didn’t show grief as fixable or temporary. It’s still present in Monica and her family’s life, but at the same time people grow, their lives change and their life grows around the grief. It’s not about forgetting, but about coping, and how even if this sadness lingers it doesn’t mean you can’t function forever.
The Cheerleaders is a fairly ordinary YA mystery with some extraordinary plot points that makes it stand out amongst its contemporaries, a must read for any mystery loves who want a new thriller to pour over.
“Girls are always whittling little weapons to stab each other with,” (Thomas 146).
“It’s shouldn’t be this easy…Grief isn’t supposed to be easy,” (Thomas 249).
“Everyone goes through shit, and there’s always someone somewhere who has it worse. It doesn’t make what you’re feeling any less real or any less shitty,” (Thomas 261).
“The cruelest people were the ones who seemed to coast through life, as if all that nastiness was a shield,” (Thomas 314).