Popsugar Reading Challenge 2021 Book 2

Prompt: A dark academia book

This is such a great prompt! Dark academia and YA thrillers are booming at the moment and there are so many fantastic reads to choose from. A lot of the most popular suggestions are already on my read pile so I had a look at some new authors that I hadn’t read before. In a true case of ‘Bookstagram made me do it’ I settled on The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas.

What it’s about?

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

What I think:

This starts with tragedy. In the space of a few month, five beautiful, successful girls will bright futures die. Two in a horrific accident, two in a brutal murder and then the fifth cheerleaser, Jennifer, commits suicide – survivors guilt, trauma and depression are the accepted reasons.

Jennifer’s sister, Monica, is now the same age as her sister when she killed herself. The fifth anniversary is approaching but Monica refuses to believe that her beautiful and brilliant sister would have committed suicide.

She starts her own investigation, seeking out past friends of the cheerleaders to find out what happened. What if the man convicted of the murders didn’t do it? What if the car crash wasn’t an accident? And what if Jennifer didn’t commit suicide.

There are dark secrets lurking beneath the surface if the respectable suburbs. The may no longer be cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but their deaths are haunting people.

This is a fast paced thriller. Monica starts the book as bratty sixteen year old who is angry and rebelling but doesn’t really understand what she is rebelling against. She learns a lot about herself during the course of the book as she finds answers to some of her questions and develops a greater understanding for how her sister’s death has impacted on her family.

This is definitely dark. The high school hides a lot of secrets: drugs, statutory rape, abortion, ruthless ambitious. Some of the relationships and friendships between the characters are toxic.

This is a good YA thriller that fans of Karen M McManus and Holly Jackson will love.

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