So, I've read a LOT of Young Adult thrillers in my day (and by "my day", I mean the past year or so). It's probably my favorite, most-read genre: I'm a sucker for a good mystery with some spine-chilling twists. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, the pool of young adult mystery books on shelves today is seriously hit-or-miss. Despite having read more than 10 YA thrillers/mysteries in the past few months, I can only name three that I genuinely think are good. Two of those three happen to be written by the same author: Karen McManus. Her two novels, One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret, are wonderfully entertaining, perfectly creepy stories with tons of twists and turns that will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very last page.
I was intrigued by the plot summary of One Of Us Is Lying before it even came out. After hearing about it, I followed it until its release, preordered it, and began reading it on the release date. I was not disappointed at all! So when wandering aimlessly through the aisles of Barnes and Noble, I came upon Two Can Keep A Secret, I'm pretty sure my heart stopped for a second. How did I not know that Karen McManus had written a second novel?! Of course, I bought it and read the entire thing in the following 24 hours. It's been a while since I finished One of Us Is Lying, but I personally feel like Two Can Keep A Secret was even better!
The story follows Ellery, a teenage, true crime addict with a twin brother named Ezra. When their struggling actress mom runs into some problems with prescription drugs, the twins find themselves moving from Southern California to their mother's hometown of Echo Ridge, Vermont to live with their grandma. On the outside, Echo Ridge looks like your typical, picture-perfect New England town. But it quickly becomes clear to Ellery that there are many chilling secrets hidden just beneath the surface, and she's determined to dig them up.
Aside from the cliche-but-somehow-new storyline reminiscent of Twin Peaks and Riverdale, the characters were easily one of my favorite aspects of the book. all of the characters, especially the main two, felt so real and relatable. Since I am a senior in high school in 2019, I can confirm this. Instead of making dumb decisions and saying weird, cringe-worthy things that most teenagers wouldn't, all of their words and actions felt realistic and in-line with the way that real teenagers interact nowadays. Even the characters' use of social media, something that many YA novels get wrong, was described and portrayed in a very normal way. It was refreshing to finally read something that felt more like a mirror and less like an alternate universe.
As for the mystery part, McManus will keep you guessing the whole time. There were some predictable moments, but it was still super entertaining to watch everything, expected and unexpected, play out!
Karen McManus has easily become one of my favorite writers, and I can't wait to see what's next for her. There is a sequel to One of Us Is Lying in the works, as well as an unnamed fourth novel. These two novels are a must-read for readers and non-readers alike. Trust me on this: you'll love them!