Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.
Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.
So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say… That is, until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.
It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something. Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?
As with McManus’s previous books, this one doesn’t waste much time before getting right into the death of a fellow student, which will grip you right away because then you wonder how and why this happened in the first place. So from the start, you have the crime and the mystery.
What I like in the beginning is that you get a little glimpse into each character’s life right before the three meet up and decide to ditch school for the day, so you have a little understanding of who these teens are. Ivy is the classic overachiever, goody-two-shoes student, Mateo has the broken family background and is working part-time jobs to help his mom, and Cal is the misfit who doesn’t really fit in a typical high school stereotype. Right away I liked the boys; Mateo because of his caring nature for his family and Cal for his misfit, artistic personality. Ivy was a little annoying at times, but I did feel for her because she was often in the shadow of her younger brother.
The characters are each harboring a secret that affects the other characters and situation that they’re in. Cal’s is revealed pretty early on, and Mateo’s makes the situation more complicated, but also gives the three a clue as to where to look to find out why their fellow classmate was murdered. Ivy’s was not as related to their situation, but it does affect her relationship with Mateo, and seems pretty not-like her character. But it shows that, like all teenagers (and people in general), she’s not perfect and sometimes makes the wrong choices.
As expected, there are little clues to figuring out who was behind the murder in this story, and it becomes kind of predictable. There are a few twists that are not expected, and make you want to keep on reading through to see if you’re right about who’s behind it all.
However, I personally found this story to not be as gripping as McManus’s other books. Maybe it’s because the characters ended up falling a little flat halfway through the book. As much as I liked them, they also seemed to have a similar way of talking, which got me mixed up when I was on a new chapter. I just also feel like there was something missing from this book. I didn’t finish it with that “what the hell did I just read?” or “what a book!” reactions like I did with McManus’s past ones.
Despite my lack of reaction after finishing, it’s still a good book, and just because I didn’t love this one doesn’t mean that no one else will. After all, we can’t all love the same books, right?
Rating: 3 stars
*I received a free e-galley from NetGalley of this in exchange for an honest review*