REVIEW ✧ THE CHEERLEADERS

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“They all smile at me: Jen, Juliana, Susan, Colleen, and Bethany. It really is a beautiful picture. By the end of the season, everyone in it is dead.”

☆☆1/2

 

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

So, reading this book was an interesting experience. And by interesting I mean that it didn’t pan out the way I expected it to. I don’t think I’ve ever come out of a book like this where I just sat there starting at the wall thinking “why?” over and over again. That’s kind of all I can think of when I look at this book. Why did so many thing about this book happen? Why did the author choose to end it that way? Why did I even read it? I don’t want to make it sound like I hated this book, because I really didn’t. I liked it enough. But as far as YA thrillers go, I just don’t understand it. There were so many things about this book that made it sound beyond promising and like it could be such a chilling thriller but at the end of the day, my expectations were never really met. Something was missing from this book and I can’t really figure it out.

THE GOOD

  • The writing was pretty decent, but what I really liked was the narrative style and how majority of it was in Monica’s POV but there were sections where we’d switch to a third person POV when exploring Jennifer’s last few months. I had experienced this a few months back when I was reading Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell and I loved how there was that POV narrative switch. This wasn’t the exact same as that book but I did enjoy seeing this choice. I think what I liked most about seeing Jennifer’s life in the third person was that as a reader you can see what happened in a more objective light and you didn’t get that attached to Jennifer or her thoughts because you weren’t going to see her again. But I got attached to her life anyways and every time I was in one of her chapters, I always wanted to read more and more. The importance of this narrative style is that you’re not just learning everything at the same pace as Monica or being just as in the dark as she is. Granted, we didn’t really learn so much about either Jennifer’s life or even what really happened with the murders but I feel like it was important nonetheless.
  • I was actually more invested in Jennifer’s story and the characters that were involved in her plot line and I feel like this book would’ve been better if she was the sole focus. It was interesting and the mystery was a lot larger there. I wish I got to see more of that storyline because it was very intriguing to see the cheerleaders before all that tragedy hit them.

THE BAD

  • Honestly, as far as a mystery thriller goes, this just wasn’t up to par for me. The thing that really got me was the fact that the synopsis made this book sound like it was going to be this chilling mystery with some crazy, thrilling storyline but at least personally, I did not see that whatsoever. It’s almost as if the synopsis and the actual book were completely different. It made it sound like there was some kind of “curse” on the town and the cheerleaders specifically, and that there were all these connections between the murders/accidents, but in reality they were almost random. The car crash had nothing to do with the break in murders, and the break in murders had very little to do with the suicide. By the end of the book when all was revealed, it was almost like Thomas was grasping for straws trying to bring everything together. I was a bit surprised about who actually murdered Juliana and Susan (which I’ll talk about soon) but I wasn’t blown away by the revelation. I think what really annoyed me was how there was the allusion that there WAS a connection between all the deaths, that this must have happened for a reason and therefore the squad needed to be disbanded, but there wasn’t. That’s how the thriller fell flat because there wasn’t anything that tied the mystery together.
  • I had a really hard time connecting with Monica as a protagonist. I don’t know really know why. I commend her for being intelligent and wanting to get justice for her sister, but honestly nothing about her made me care about her life or have any interest of what happens to her. I know she was struggling and went through a lot of hard things, and that I can respect, but I wasn’t tied to her like I’ve been with other female characters. And when it came to her relationship with her friends, that bothered me a lot. I didn’t like how she treated them and how they treated her and I don’t know if it’s because of how old I am and maybe that makes it hard for me to connect with 17 year olds right now, but I’ve been able to connect with other characters this age so I don’t think it’s that. I think she was just a character type that wasn’t for me or someone that I personally couldn’t connect with.
  • I’m gonna spoil something really big right now so SPOILER ALERT!! Why did Brandon’s character exist? I mean, I understand why he existed because he ended up being a giant player in the end of the book and the mystery, but holy shit, why was this predatory pedophile written into this book. I hate what he did to Monica and how he did it to Juliana and all of these revelations made me not only despise him but dislike both of these characters when I didn’t want to. But they disappointed me and Thomas disappointed me in attempting to make the idea of Monica and Brandon even slightly ok. Like…..it’s 2018…..why are we doing this? That turned me off of this entire book when all was revealed in the end and I literally get angry just thinking about it. Urg.
  • I’ve been so used to seeing such strong female friendships but this book lacked so much of that. I got a bit of it with Monica and Ginny but with Monica’s group of friends or even Jennifer’s group of friends, I didn’t get that. And that cliched “my friends don’t understand me” was used and again, I’m tired of it.

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • I feel like Kara Thomas started with an incredibly promising idea with this book but when she went to execute everything, it just didn’t work for me. The idea was there, the thrill was there, but it felt a bit out of reach. One Of Us Is Lying this book is not.

BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Goodreads

Until next time,

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What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!

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