Skip to main content

They Wish They Were Us: YA Book Review

 


They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

TW: Murder/Death of a Teen (off page generally), violence, brutal initiation tasks, attempted sexual assault (on page but brief; it gets stopped)

Overview: Jill has always felt uneasy about being a Player. She worked hard and endured plenty of initiation torture to win her place among the elite group of high schoolers at Gold Coast Prep, but there's a sick feeling in her stomach as she finally takes her senior crown as one of their leaders. Maybe it was because of the brutal treatment she endured, maybe it was because her best friend Shelia died suspiciously initiation night. A fellow Player, Shelia's boyfriend Graham, got blamed for the murder before the night was over. That should be three years in the past, but a text from Rachel, a former player and Graham's sister stirs up all of Jill's questions again. Overall: 4

Note: I heard about and read this book because Halsey and Sidney Sweeny will be staring in the adaption of this book as a limited series. When the news dropped, I covered it on my music blog, so for more about the book, the show, the announcements, and some inside looks, check out that article. 

Characters: 4 All of the characters are interesting. They fit a lot of the typical prep school archetype, but they all have their own secrets that make them human and flawed and complex. There's an interesting mix of personalities happening among the players. There's the artsy guy, the field hockey girl, the confident one, the theater kid, the spoiled rich boy. I liked getting to see where all their personalities started as freshmen in the flashbacks and how they either hardened or shifted after their initiation year. Nikki got more confident and Jill grew more steady. None of them have ever had to fall besides the initiation pops that seem like the worst of sorority initiations. With cheat codes, prestige, and rich parents (for most of them) means that the world is laid out on a silver platter. The book takes a deep look into the ramifications of that. 

We see it all through Jill's eyes, which is a choice I appreciated. Jill is probably still the softest of the players. Her empathy hasn't been knocked out of her. She doesn't delight in inflicting the same pain that she endured on the freshmen, and she's insistent on changing how the Player's operate. Besides Nikki, Jill was the closest to Shelia, and that left a mark on her. It's why she's so determined to make sure the end of Shelia's story is correct. It's why she listens to Rachel when she reaches out again. Rachel has been dealing with the murder resting on her brother's shoulders and the Player's guilt for a while. She rushed through Cornell and escaped to NYC where she could be anonymous. Rachel's been written off by Gold Coast, but Jill places trust in her. The senior players have their own stories that are just as twisted. There's a shocking number of characters that get developed through the book. 

Plot: 4 I'm not sure if it was me or the book, but it took me a while to get through this one. I found the writing to be dense, but that built that atmosphere. It just read slower. Also, every chapter is packed with a detailed flashback, so that slows down the plot as well. They're all important to understanding everything that's going on, but it'll slow you down too. As far as the mystery goes, my gut had it solved from the first third. I don't knock books for me figuring it out ahead of the reveal (though I tend to be pretty bad at it) because that means the clues were laid out, but if you like a surprise, I don't think you'll find one here. It's more about the journey than the destination. 

Spoiler (no names revealed): The final conflict scene has that classic confrontation scene where they go to tape the confession and then get beaten up and wake up in the hospital. That scene is so played out, I didn't find it super interesting, and I did knock my rating for that. It could've been more creative.

Writing: 4 I liked the book. The atmosphere is great, and I think I need one good prep school murder mystery a year. Last year it was People Like Us. And as a book in that vein, it delivered. I liked that there was also a lot of focus on the Players and the toxic environment there. I find it fascinating how humans seem to be inclined to force the suffering they endured on others as redemption or something because I so don't understand that impulse, and that is thoroughly explored here and a major theme. I liked that focus more than I liked the mystery through-line. 

Most of all, I think it'll make a great, creepy, Riverdale-esque drama (please let it be more cohesive). As a mini series, I'm hoping they'll be able to dive into all the nuance in the book. I can totally see Halsey as Rachel, the mysterious former player, and I'm excited to see Sydney in a non-Euphoria role. 

More About The They Wish They Were Us Adaption: The Player's Table

Learn About Halsey's Role and Everything We've Learned About the Show So Far

Back To The Badlands Book Tag

Subscribe On YouTube

Reacting to Sasha Sloan's New Album Only Child

Find Your Fall Soundtrack: Fall Playlist


Links of Interest:

Grown

This Is All Your Fault Tour Stop

Swimming Lessons

Into YA with Kristina Forest 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Perfect on Paper: YA Book Review

  Perfect on Paper  by Sophie Gonzales (2021 Release!) Preorder The Book on Bookshop! Before I get into the review, I'm just so excited to be writing a book review! I hadn't finished a book since the end of September :(. Hopefully that's over now. Anyway... Overview: Darcy is like Hannah Montana. Well, kinda. She's not a secret pop star, but she does have a hidden identity. She's the girl behind Locker 89, home of the best relationship advice in California. Or, at least, at her high school. People drop a letter and $10 in the locker, and Darcy collects them after school when her mom, a teacher there, stays late. This goes perfectly until Brougham catches her. While it's a minor disaster, he has a fascinating Australian accent and some traces of charm, and he ropes Darcy into giving him personal relationship coaching to win back his ex-girlfriend. But maybe he doesn't want his ex-girlfriend back after all? And maybe Darcy could get over her painful crush on h

Together, Apart YA Book Review

  Together, Apart  Anthology  Overall: 4.5 Finally writing a book review again! I read Together Apart  over the weekend, and I really enjoyed it. It's the only mainstream pandemic centric YA book out there (that I know of), which was also super interesting. I'm someone who processes what I'm going through in the moment through other people's work and recounting of experiences and through reading. With the pandemic, there hasn't been that chance. While most people are on the side of reading as escapism and not wanting books to acknowledge the pandemic, I've been craving it, and I want to write it as well (probably never will because everyone is so against it). Books and writing are how I process things. Together, Apart gave me a chance to do that. At a certain point, I think I started reading less because some days it hurt to read about teens on some other timeline living the high school/college life that feels like it's passing me by. So, I will go out on th

Books I'm Looking Forward To: November 2020 (5 YA Books and Poetry!)

Sorry I've been gone so much this month! It's hard to keep up my regular reading schedule with school. The last two weeks, I've been dealing with midterms and finals for different classes, so there's been plenty of extra work. I'm working on getting back to reading so I can share some more reviews with you very soon, but I should be back to regular posting this week.  Since it's almost a new month, I figured it's a good time to get excited about the brand new books that are coming in November and get some last minute preordering done to support these books! This month is a little bit different because I'm including a broader range of titles. I have a couple I've preordered already, some suggested to me on Twitter, a fantasy book I'm considering reading, and a book of poetry that I have wanted for months and months. I can't believe Halsey's book is finally out. In each book feature, there's a preorder button you can click to preorder t

October Wrap Up

  This month has been a journey. I've tried to write this wrap up like 5 times now, and I keep stumbling because, for one, I read almost nothing this month. From a more personal standpoint, this month was the biggest disaster of the year but had some of my favorite moments. Life is annoyingly complicated like that. I hardly remember the beginning of October it was so stressful. I finally bought Halloween decoration, which I've wanted to do for the last year or two. I stuck them around the house to get in the spirit for my favorite holiday instead of hanging them up outside like I normally do. Since I rarely leave, they're way more fun to pass on the way into the kitchen, and I'm going to miss my skeleton dragon and ghoul/skeleton man when Halloween is over.  Mostly, in October, I've felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by my life at home, overwhelmed by school, overwhelmed about the million responsibilities I make up for myself, and overwhelmed by feelings of failure aimed

This Is All Your Fault Blog Tour Stop

  Hi, everybody! Today, I'm a part of a book tour for Turn the Pages Tours letting you know about Aminah Mae Safi's book, This Is All Your Fault . If you've always dreamed about working in a bookstore, this new book will be perfect for you. It's about a group of teen booksellers who have to band together to help save the store. Check out the full  description  down below to get to know the book and learn more about Aminah through her author bio and the links to her social media! If you want to pick up the book right now, I'll leave a link to the book on Bookshop here which helps support the blog because it's an affiliate link, which means the blog might get a small  commission  from your purchase at no extra cost to you. It's a great way to  support  the blog while shopping for books! If you'd rather not shop at Bookshop, here's the general purchase link .  Description:  Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi's This Is All Your Fault is

Into YA with Kristina Forest

I'm super excited to bring you another edition of Into YA, this time with one of my new favorite YA authors, Kristina Forest. While I'm sure you've already heard about Now That I've Found You , you can get caught up by reading my review here. Thank you to Kristina for taking the time to chat with me, and I hope you enjoy our conversation. If you want to help support the blog, please consider grabbing a copy through my Bookshop affiliate link here .    1. In Now That I Found You, all of your main characters are famous. Evie and her family are huge in the film industry, and love interest, Milo, is on the rise with his band. Did that require extra research to write about for either the music or film industries? It didn’t require much research. I’ve always been interested in old Hollywood and I’m a big fan of movies and music, and I’ve watched dozens of documentaries and/or biopics so I felt pretty prepared to write the story without having to do additional research. 2. Onc

Grown: YA Book Reviews

  Grown  by Tiffany D. Jackson TW: (from the title page of the book) sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, and addiction to opioids  Overview: Enchanted just wants to be a singer. Living in the suburbs, she doesn't know how this will happen until she gets noticed by Korey Fields at an audition. She doesn't make the show, but she gets taken under his wing. She just wants a career, and she wants to be loved, and she wants to be told she's beautiful. Korey does all that and more. He also has money and power- more things Enchanted lacks. She wants to be an adult and take life on, but she's fallen into the hands of an abuser and master manipulator. Coming out the other side leaves Korey dead and Enchanted trying to find her footing. Overall: 5 Characters: 5 All of these characters are extremely vivid. Enchanted is such a good main character. She has confidence and is so smart. But you can see her little vulnerabilities that Korey expertly exploits. It's c