Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (327 pages)
Overview: Ellery and Ezra have moved to Echo Ridge right when the beloved science teacher is killed in a hit and run. They come across the body on their drive into town which sets the tone for their time in Echo Ridge. It seems that the killer of the homecoming queen from five years ago has returned with a slew of threats against the new court. And then, Brooke, one of the princesses, goes missing. Echo Ridge goes from a rich, suburban New England town to the sight of a possible serial killer, and true crime fanatic, Ellery, is going to solve it the mystery. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 Ellery and Ezra aren't super memorable. They're fine. Likable enough, but nothing stands out to make them special. Ezra is reduced to a minor, minor character, even though he's originally painted as important and Ellery is your classic new girl in town, true crime fanatic. I just can't find anything that stands out about her as much as I want there to be something.
The same goes for Malcom who is the other POV character. His brother was the prime suspect in Lacey's murder five years ago because they were dating at the time, and he's had to deal with the ramifications and the doubts about his brother. He fills the "in the shadow" younger sibling type.
They both just wind up being cliches. The fact that I kept forgetting who was narrating the chapter I was reading is most telling.
Some of the minor characters made me wish that McManus had dug deeper into them. Mia, Malcom's friend, and Ezra, Ellery's twin, as well as Malcom's stepsister and her friends were set up to be major players, but then they just disappeared halfway through. The story might have been more compelling with a deeper dive with these characters and some more background on the major players in the first murder. I do have to say, though, that Officer Ryan was awesome.
Plot: 4 I didn't love the big twist at the end that revealed the criminal. I mean, it was fine, but I didn't get a real thrill out of it. The plot snaked its way through a mountain of twists, turns, and false starts, but none of them were given much weight, and I wasn't desperate to find out whether they were right. It didn't get my heart racing, or even fluttering, and while simple mind games can make a thriller, this one wasn't pressing or intellectual enough to do it for me.
*Possibly Spoilery Comment But Not Really*
I guess my biggest issue with the reveal is that we learn a lot about a many different leads and possible suspects, and then the reveal comes out of left field and it's one of the most minute characters. I'm all for false leads, random twists, and the guy you didn't suspect, but I want it to end up being a character, someone we've spent more than five or ten pages with in passing. It was one of those moments that made me wonder "why did I read these last 200 pages. This could have happened regardless."
Writing: 3 I really wanted to love this book. I've been trying to get my hands on it since it was announced and then I waited patiently till release day because I was so enamored with One of Us Is Lying (it actually got me super into YA thrillers in the fall). It just didn't live up to OUIL for me, which is super sad and not what I thought I'd be saying. I loved the innovative plot and set up of her debut; it was a twist on the murder story I'd never seen before. This book just fell into cliche, overdone territory
Also, I felt the multiple POV set up was a detriment to this book. Not being able to distinguish a strong voice from either of the narrators made me realize how bland they both were. Maybe it's just me, but I just couldn't get into the story. It was missing that secret element that makes the reader really care.
Books By This Author:
One of Us Is Lying: Review Here
If You Liked This Book:
There's Someone Inside Your House: Review Here
The Cheerleaders: Review Here