Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

"If I believed in omens, this would be a bad one."

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paris
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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!

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Album Review: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO

My honest review of Billie Eilish's debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO.

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Billie Eilish just released her debut album and I have not been able to stop listening. I had never listened to Eilish's music before, somewhat refusing to conform to the norms. But I thought I'd give her a chance, and now I'm hooked. Take a look at my thoughts on this innovative album.

!!!!!!!

This is an...interesting introduction, to say the least. I like that Eilish is able to open up her very vulnerable album with some humor and personality. The 13 second audio clip shares Eilish taking out her Invisalign, something most people do before bed; this is another reference to the album title.

bad guy

Opening up the album, this villainous tune grabs your attention immediately. It keeps a pretty steady, bass-heavy beat until the breakdown. The outro drives home the scary and villain persona Eilish creates with this track.

xanny

This is a complete left turn from the previous track. Eilish's vocals are so airy and haunting that getting goosebumps is inevitable. This track has some of the best production I have ever heard. It mimics a high of the drugs she talks about in the song with its crawl and unexpected beats.

you should see me in a crown

Eilish took all of her angst and threw it into this song. It literally sounds like the song that plays in the movies when a character is getting their revenge by setting fire to a car or bashing in windows or something. Definitely going to be the anthem for a lot of people's break ups.

all the good girls go to hell

The juxtaposition in this track is crazy. It is definitely one of the more upbeat ones on the album, but the concept is dark. It fulfills everyone's pop punk cravings. I can't help but think this is a stance against religion. Yet, Eilish confirmed that it is about climate change...definitely did not get that message.

wish you were gay

There was a ton of controversy around the message of this song, but it's a lot simpler than people think. Eilish can't accept not being someone's type and not get the same amount of attention she gives, so she wishes this guy was gay to spare her pride. It's the perfect "it's not you, it's me."

when the party's over

This track swirls sadness and anger, amplified by the melancholy tone and booming chorus. You can hear the pain in Eilish's voice and the disappointment in her lyrics. This is definitely one of the more mellow tracks, but the message is extremely relatable and well-thought.

8

Want to know a genius marketing strategy? Track number eight is titled "8." This track sounds like it could have been recorded when Eilish was 8 years old with its higher pitch and ukulele backing. However, the lyrics are extremely sad. It's difficult what the message of this song is with the juxtaposition of tones.

my strange addiction

Yeah, so she put clips of my favorite episode of The Office, Threat Level Midnight, so obviously I love this song. The beat mimics that of the music backing Michael Scott's "Do The Scarn" song. Eilish is definitely comparing her love to an addiction, so I'm not really sure why she included The Office, but it definitely gets people talking.

bury a friend

This track keeps you on your toes. Its extremely haunting message coupled with the layered harmonies here and there is something else. Sounds travel from ear to ear to create this isolation and trapped feeling. Eilish created a full experience with this song.

ilomilo

Based off of Eilish's favorite childhood game, this song is by far my favorite. The beat sounds exactly like a video game adventure; you can hear the journey, like that of the "ilomilo" game. The techno bits make it much different than all of the other tracks.

listen before i go

Stripped down to vocals and piano, this song amps up the vulnerability of this album. Eilish seems to start disappearing, but, with some faint storm and street noises in the background, some life is brought to this chilling track.

i love you

Another stripped down track, Eilish finally hits a sweet spot in her album. You can hear her struggle to escape these emotions, but she is eventually overcome when she hears "I love you."

goodbye

With clips from every song, Eilish creates the perfect finish line for this rollercoaster of an album. Going from end to the beginning, she reminds us that this is not the end.

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How I Found My Voice Through Storytelling

"I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day."

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Storytelling is an art that is at the core of our humanity and it has been a passion of mine from a young age. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the narratives of my family. The practicality of my dad's voice rings in my ears when he shares the lessons he learned from my grandfather. I can still visualize the vivid tales conjured up by my grandmother, whose words had a magical essence that made them seem surreal. These distinct moments are like video clips that are ingrained in my memory to this day.

My parents and grandparents always took pride in sharing their stories with me, and I was eager to learn about the traditions of our family history. Growing up in this environment completely influenced the person that I am today. It had finally occurred to me when I was a little bit older that not everyone had the same relationship to their ancestral past that I did. Not everyone had insight of into the life shaping experiences that affected their loved ones. Not everyone knew their story.

I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I tried to imagine a life in which I didn't know my story or where I came from. Without this information, it was difficult for me to identify a purpose. From the perspective of my life, my story is attached to my drive to succeed. These components of my identity are entwined like fibers of the common thread that ties humanity together. I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day.

To the people who haven't discovered where they want to go in life or how they plan on getting there, start writing your story. Even if you have no where to start, just pick up the pen and start writing about where you envision your future. Create your purpose, manifest your ideas, and you will begin to become your narrative. Above all, be prepared to use your voice because the best way to add meaning to your work is to share it with others.

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