I love a good YA murder mystery so I was really excited to dive into The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it really came together as well as it was supposed to. It’s five years after five cheerleaders have died and we’re told to “connect the dots” but when it’s all resolved…there weren’t actually any dots to connect. It has a lot of Pretty Little Liar aspects which I enjoyed but ultimately it didn’t feel as well connected as a lot of the other murder mysteries I read.
Five years ago, there was tragedy in Sunnybook (which appears to be in Connecticut, don’t quote me on that though) and five cheerleaders died. First, two of them died in a car accident so bad an EMT threw up on the scene. Then, two of them were murdered and a neighbor was gunned down, assumed to be the killer. Then, the fifth cheerleader took her own life, and the cheerleading team was disbanded. Now, five years later, Monica, the younger sister of the fifth cheerleader knows her sister never would have taken her own life and when she discovers some questionable letters in her stepdad’s drawer (he’s a cop) she’s on the case to figure out what really happened five years ago. There’s a creepy loner kid who may know more than he’s letting on, a hot new teacher who Monica knows far too well, strange letters shoved into lockers, and it’s all supposed to connect, at least that’s what is implied, but when you finally figure out what happened you’ll be wondering why you really cared as much as you thought you did. Told mostly from Monica’s point of view, there are also sections from Jennifer (the suicide cheerleader) from five years ago and the last chapter is from another character Monica meets in the meantime.
I don’t HATE how it ends, it makes sense. I’ll say that first and foremost. None of it feels “Illogical” to me, but the problem I have is that the entire reason Monica gets involved at the beginning of the book is that she finds these letters saying “connect the dots” but…the dots don’t really connect. The story behind the deaths shifts a bit by the end, but it’s not like suddenly it’s all one big conspiracy theory. It just kind of bugged me that i was expecting it to ALL come together and it really didn’t. Sure, it became a little bit more connected based on who got involved and all that jazz, but I wasn’t sold by the end. I had really high hopes for this novel because it was blurbed by the author of One of Us is Lying and mentioned on All the Books, but I just wasn’t that impressed.
If you’re looking for a really good YA murder mystery, check out One of Us Is Lying or People Like Us.