Monday, March 19, 2018

People Like Us

People Like Us

People Like Us is a boarding school mystery with a Pretty Little Liars vibe. Kay Donovan is the queen bee of a clique that runs the place basically, or they think they do. Along with her friends she is definitely at the top of the social ladder, but that changes quickly after a death at the school. The night of a school dance turns deadly when Jessica Lane is found dead in a lake on the school grounds. At first it seems like a terrible tragedy, but when Kay receives a message from a blogger threatening to spill her secrets, she has to choose between her friends or herself. 

Kay has secrets in her past, as befits a good YA book, but they're of the tragic variety. Something terrible happened and she carries a ton of guilt about it. She's also out for a soccer scholarship, her one ticket to escape the poverty she comes from, so she's under a lot of pressure too. The blogger meanwhile seems to know everything about certain events, things her and her friends did to another student, so Kay feels like she has no choice but to go along. I liked Kay, in spite of her history- even though she's a "mean girl" she was also sympathetic to me. I'm not sure other readers would agree, though, and one of the interesting aspects of this book for me would be- how do other readers react to Kay? 

I liked this book but I had some issues with it. For one thing, the mystery was different than I was expecting. Some of the things felt like they happened way too fast, which I'll get into in the spoiler section below. One thing I liked was that the author tried to really make it feel like they were at school. I mean, they had to actually study for exams, and it took time, you know? Not just a brief mention. Sounds like a little thing but the little things matter. So there were good and bad things here. It also felt a bit disjointed, in terms of the events and certain consequences, and that threw me a bit.  

Kay's best friend Brie and her ally Nola were both interesting characters. Kay has a thing for Brie but Brie has a girlfriend of her own. Kay feels like her and Brie have been on the cusp of a relationship several times, but it never happens. And Nola is a student who's an ace at hacking (naturally) and is able to help Kay try to get to the bottom of things. But everyone is also a suspect here, and the fun part of the book for me was trying to guess whodunit. And why. The whole blog angle was fun too, although a bit over the top? 

So all in all I'd say this is worth a read, with the caveat that it has a few realism issues. It's also, again, not exactly what I was expecting. I went back to read the synopsis and it's pretty accurate, so it may just have been an issue with my expectations, but it just didn't flow for me quite as easily as some of these kinds of books do. I thought Kay turned on her friends awfully quickly as well, at times, and that again affected my enjoyment. But otherwise this has a lot to recommend it, and I think anyone who enjoys a YA murder mystery should give it a look. 

Spoilers/ Discussion

I have a few additional thoughts. Kay and her likability were kind of fascinating to me, I'd love to know how other readers react to her and her choices. Several of her choices were problematic for me, not least the ease with which she turned on her friends, especially Tricia and Tai. On the one hand I truly believe she felt like she had no choice, but it was so sudden. And the realism issue with Tricia and how fast she was expelled from the school. It all happened in more or less a day? Also when you have multiple murders, why is the school still open? I can see it still operating perhaps after Jessica's death, but when Maddy is found dead in a tub on school grounds, just days after the first murder, I kinda think school might have closed for a while? 

The relationship between Kay and Brie is obviously a central part of the book, and one thing I liked was the way the author had me questioning everyone at one point or other. There were times when I thought Brie was the culprit, or Nola, and just about everyone else!  

The scavenger hunt angle played a bigger role than I thought it might, although it's clearly there in the synopsis so again that may just be me. I think I was just expecting a different story- maybe looking for the clique elements to play a bigger role? Kay made enemies of her friends so quickly that she became a pariah very early on, so rather than the clique dynamics I was expecting, this played out more as a murder mystery. Still, I enjoyed it, and some of the twists were a lot of fun. 

36 comments:

  1. A mysterious blogger who knows everything about her. That does sound suspenseful, though yeah, maybe a bit over-the-top. The little things do make a diff though! It takes you out of the story when those little things aren't there, like when characters are supposedly in school but never go to class or do hw. I'm not a fan of the mean girl trope though, and tbh I prob wouldn't like her character.

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    1. They do! It doesn't take much to take you out of the story, and a lot of times it IS the little things! And yeah that fascinated me, like how people would react to her...

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  2. Can't say no to a mystery book like this. I skipped your spoiler section but I'm definitely intrigued!

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  3. I do like boarding school settings in books but I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment so not really adding to the list if possible.
    Lynn :D

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    1. I do like a good boarding school read, but I understand- there are too many books!

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  4. Hmmm not sure if this is one I would like or not. I loved your review for it though, very detailed and honest!

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    1. Thanks! I think some people will really like this one and some won't...

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  5. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like something to maybe grab from the library. It does seem a bit unrealistic in parts, but it also seems kind of intriguing too. And I like that it shows everyday, school life. Kind of like Harry Potter!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. A good library pick- up, definitely. I bought the Kindle version but yeah I wouldn't pay full price for a physical copy.

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  6. I am looking forward to this one but I may adjust my expectations a bit now.

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    1. Yeah if you go in with slightly lower expectations you'll probably do great!

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  7. This sounds like a good one, but I have to admit that lately when a book or even a movie has realism issues, it becomes a DNF. (lol) Still this story sounds pretty interesting and worth checking out. Happy Monday and Hugs...RO

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  8. Sounds like one I might grab from the library. I like some of the aspects you mentioned. However, I'll be honest, when I started reading your review I saw "Jessica Lang" and not "Jessica Lane" and all I could think is why would someone name a character after an actress? Oh well, it's a Monday.

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    1. That's funny! Ugh Mondays. :) Yeah I think this is a good library pick, not something I would pay full price for?

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  9. I can’t decide if I should read this one. It sounds ok but I’m hearing mixed reviews.

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    1. Yeah I thought I was going to like it a bit more than I did, but it's not bad by any means. I would say a pretty middle of the road boarding school mystery.

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  10. Yeah, the multiple murder thing in one school would be a big problem. Still it sounds like an entertaining read.

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  11. I like your thoughts about this one. I have it on my list of books to read. I love anything boarding school!

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  12. YA murder mystery, hmmm, I am not sure

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  13. I haven't tried this one so I can't really say bit I'm curious!

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  14. Yes, I always give extra props to stories were students actually study and do homework, and even more when they have crappy real life after school jobs. I was amazed what people from other countries thought our schools were like based on sitcoms and YA books, when I was a member of that Harry Potter social site. :P

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  15. The boarding school/prep school setting is a trope I'm beginning to like more and more. There's just something about the environment that makes a mystery or a crime novel more intriguing. I may have to put this one on my list, since despite some flaws it still sounds like it's worth a read.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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  16. I hadn't heard of this one before but I do enjoy books that are set in boarding schools and the Pretty Little Liars vibe appeals to me as well. I don't think I'd make this a priority read but I could see myself trying it at some point because it does sound pretty good even though there are some issues.

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  17. I normally don't gravitate towards YA murder mystery books, but People Like Us seems like something that I could get hooked on. Awesome review Greg!

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  18. I am probably never reading this so I read your spoiler section. Yeah, I would have had problems with that too- I mean, like parents wouldn't be all up in arms after the first murder, let alone subsequent ones!? Please. And I think the turning on her friends thing would have annoyed me too- did she at least struggle with it, or was it no big deal? Glad it was mostly enjoyable though!

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  19. I am torn about this one -- so I read your spoiler section and I am still torn. I can see why those issues would have stuck in your mind because from the looks of it, it's supposed to be pretty realistic, barring the murder part lol But I do like a good mystery ... so we shall see!

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  20. I enjoyed this read. Any boarding school books... especially murder ones. I go in expecting no realism. I didn’t like Kay but I did. Same with her choices. She was a strange character for me. Kind of like an addiction for new. I was second guessing everyone too. I thought the mystery was well done. It was siffernt than I expected too. I did like the scavenger hunt part. I thought it was clever and well thought.

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  21. Boarding school mystery! Those are such catnip for me, especially since I read and loved Truly Devious earlier this year. Kay sounds like a polarizing character...my favourite kind! I also really appreciate a YA novel that actually represents schoolwork accurately.

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  22. yay! I was looking forward to your review of this book! Glad to hear you liked even though you had some issues with it. I love school life so I'd probably enjoy that part I don't read many mysteries but YA mysteries I do! I think pacing is very important!

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  23. I read this far enough back that I cannot remember exact details, but I remember quite liking Kay. I do agree with that she turned on her friends quickly, but I do also think that it was intentional--to show that they weren't really friends and everyone in their group was really selfish and care only about themselves. Great review!

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  24. Ahhh, I didn't care for this book really. But, it was a good murder mystery book. Just the whole woah is me thing got to me and the talk of coffee..ughh aggravates me even thinking of it now.

    Mary

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  25. I'm iffy on this one. I like a lot about it - the scavenger hunt especially and I love that they actually had to do school related things. It always drives crazy when characters don't do their job or school or anything like that. The mean girl thing I think would annoy me but this might be a good library pick. Great review!

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  26. I am on the fence about this one, but leaning toward giving it a try, especially after reading your review. Now I have a better idea of what to expect going in and maybe that will help. :-)

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