You’ll Be the Death of Me
Author: Karen M. McManus
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Young adult; Mystery; Contemporary
When they were younger, Ivy, Mateo, and Cal – three students who had never hung out before – all skipped out on a field trip to explore the city. Their daring escape cemented their friendship, until they drifted apart at the start of high school. Now, during a chance meet-up in the parking lot, the three decide to skip school and go back to the city where they first became friends, hoping to recreated their Best Day Ever. Instead, they wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suddenly one of their classmates is dead – and Ivy becomes a person of interest. But in trying to clear her name, Ivy may end up dead, too.
Coming down from the high of watching Peacock’s adaptation of McManus’s popular novel One of Us Is Lying, I was very excited to jump into her latest YA mystery You’ll Be the Death of Me. Advertised as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder, I was immediately intrigued. The novel is told in first person POV through alternating perspective chapters: Ivy, the studious high achiever; Mateo, the brooding heartthrob; and Cal, the artsy loner. The three witness a murder and instead of going to the police, they obviously try to solve the mystery themselves. Which, of course, gets them into a lot of trouble.
The pacing was a bit slow at first, but I do think once the murder happens things pick up. It’s more a slow-build mystery rather than a thrilling, fast-paced one. Think The Cousins – but better. (I absolutely liked this more than McManus’s previous novel, which had pacing issues throughout. YBTDOM is more consistent and way more interesting.) The mystery isn’t as twisty as I’d hoped, but I definitely didn’t predict the ending and was surprised by the reveal. Though I will say the reveal I had in my own brain would have been cooler… As for the characters, they were all… meh. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m desperately looking for OOUIL-level greatness, but I didn’t connect to any of the characters as much as I’d wanted to. Though they all had their different personalities and secrets that made them unique, they didn’t really stand out.
Is it like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Kinda. Is there a murder? Yeah. But a thrilling mystery it is not. It’s not a bad novel by any means, but it’s definitely not what I was hoping for/expecting from McManus after having published gems like the OOUIL series and Two Can Keep a Secret. The problem with writing great stories right off the bat…is that we’re expecting that level every time. And so far, The Cousins and YBTDOM haven’t been on that level. If you like McManus’s writing and stories, I do recommend reading this novel just because it is enjoyable and interesting. Just don’t set your expectations sky high.
Final thoughts: an interesting murder mystery with decent characters, but a slower pace and fewer twists than her previous novels. Also – I need more romance.
You’ll Be the Death of Me available November 30th!