Review: People Like Us

“Tell me. Tell me how I did it. Because from where I’m standing, it looks like you’re the one going to prison.”
People Like Us by Dana Mele
375 pages
Genre: YA, mystery, thriller
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin), 2018
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: Because it’s a mystery, I’m not sure I’ll pick this one up again.

Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review
Picture a perfect private school in New England. It’s fall and there are fiery-colored leaves falling from the trees. But they’re not the only things falling. Bates Academy has a murder problem and Kay Donovan is being pulled into it.
Kay has it all. She’s the star soccer player (captain actually), she’s got more friends than ever (and rich ones too), plus she’s got a picture perfect boyfriend (who is perfect for making her best friend, who Kay might be in love with, jealous).
But after Kay and a bunch of her friends find a dead body on school grounds after a party, things take a turn. Soon Kay is being sent on a wild goose chase by a mysterious website that makes her destroy everyone she’s close with and uncover some of her darkest secrets.
Luckily, there is one person who Kay feels like she can trust. Nola helped her decode the mysterious website and is defending Kay from the mounting number of hate messages she’s been getting. But nothing is quite as sure as it seems and after there’s another murder, Kay doesn’t know who to trust.
Maybe it’s because I don’t often read this genre (it’s rare that I read a mystery, let alone a YA mystery), but this made my skin crawl and made me slightly nauseous. The story felt so real and was really easy to slip into right from the start. It’s got an addictive appeal to it that measures up with something like the Pretty Little Liars show and it feels a bit like Donna Tart’s A Secret History.
Mele did a fantastic job of weaving in modern day teen issues, concerns, and references without making them feel heavy handed. One character’s reputation and life is destroyed when someone posts her nude photos online. Several characters’ lives are destroyed when Kay helps some of her friends to bully them.
The book doesn’t shy away from talking about lesbian love either. There was more girl on girl then there was girl on guy, which was interesting and I like that today’s teens will grow up reading about it in books like these.
I also liked that Mele threw all her punches at the end of the book. There was no way I would have guessed the killer (and I don’t think most readers will), but even after that mystery has been unraveled Mele releases another one. The ending is left open to interpretation as far as what happens to Kay Donovan.
It’s a good read and one that I can easily see being turned into a mini series soon.

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