Author: Karen McManus
Performed by MacLeod Andrews, Kim Mai Guest, Robbie Daymond, Shannon McManus
Released: June 2018 by Penguin Books Ltd
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Audiobook Review
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app
When five students, Simon, Addy, Cooper, Bronwyn and Nate find themselves in detention one Monday afternoon, they have no idea what is about to unfold.
Addy, Cooper and Bronwyn have spotless records, but Nate is the bad boy of the group, on probation for selling drugs. The only thing they have in common is school. All five have identical phones in their bags which don’t belong to them, and all deny any knowledge of how they got there. The general opinion is that it’s a prank.. but who would do that and why…
Before the end of the detention period, Simon was dead despite attempts to save his life.
“A pen,” he says, his eyes scanning Simon’s brick-red face. “You have a pen?” Simon nods wildly, his hand clawing at his throat. I grab the pen off my desk and try to hand it to Nate, thinking he’s about to do an emergency tracheotomy or something. Nate just stares at me like I have two heads. “An epinephrine pen,” he says, searching for Simon’s backpack. “He’s having an allergic reaction.”
The police aren’t convinced Simon’s death was an accident. Addy, Bronwyn, Cooper and Nate were about to be featured in Simon’s online gossip column, About That. They all had secrets they didn’t want revealing – but was that enough to commit murder? No-one knew how he managed to find out the things he did. Simon enjoyed the power he held over his peers, the malicious posts were always true and caused untold misery for those he targeted. He was universally disliked and had almost no friends. Combined with the additional facts that peanut oil is found in Simon’s water cup, he doesn’t have his Epi-Pen and there are none to be found in the nurses station, it’s not looking good for the remaining four.
The story is told in alternating chapters from the first person perspectives of Cooper, Addy, Nate and Bronwyn as they live through the investigation into Simon’s death and the resulting infamy. This approach creates a brisk, suspenseful pace while giving the reader (or listener) access to each of their thoughts and experiences. How everything they’re going through affects each of them emotionally, changing their perceptions of themselves and each other. Great character studies and the issues raised are handled extremely sensitively.
I found the audio quite compelling, the four narrators are excellent, the main characters are engaging with their own diverse personalities and problems. The combination kept me intrigued. Cooper, Nate, Addy and Bronwyn all grow and develop realistically throughout, facing their worst fears and showing how sometimes bad experiences can have a positive outcome.
About the Author
Karen M. McManus is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult thriller One of Us Is Lying, which has been translated into 37 languages worldwide. Her second book, Two Can Keep a Secret, will be released in January 2019. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels.