Welcome to the review I did not expect to write.
I loved parts of this book. I loved the storytelling, the writing, the teenage angst and romance. I loved the murder mystery.
I did not love the big reveal or the things that were used as plot devices. So let’s get started on all my thoughts.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book. The mystery/whodunit was fun and I enjoyed getting to know the characters as we follow each of the four people who are murder suspects for one of their classmate’s murders. I liked the romance, it was a little cheesy at times but felt right on point for teenage love and angst.
But I had a few major problems with this book.
Now, spoilers because we have to talk about these. I don’t think it’s ever okay to use mental illness or sexuality the way they are used in this book.
I do understand why this book has TONS of raving reviews, part of me wants to write one myself because I really did love most of it, but like I said at the beginning and just now, there were a few problems. And these are spoilers so if you haven’t read it yet, stop now. BUT I will say that there are triggers for coming out, suicide, and mental illness, so if those are triggers for you, you may want to keep reading to see if this book is for you.
If the big twist/reveal had been different, I think I would be writing a very different review (one of the raving kinds). I guessed somewhere in the middle that none of them did it, and that Simon had died by suicide. So it wasn’t a huge shock when that was revealed. What bothered me was how every character with mental illness in this book is talked about and approached.
oh, they have depression? That is why they did all the evil and bad things they did. Oh he’s depressed? Yeah, he commits suicide and frames his murder on his classmates. Oh, he has depression? That’s why he created this horrible gossip site that hurt a lot of people, it’s because he was depressed and evil.
books like these are not helping the stigma around mental illness. Yes, I do realize that some incidents (shootings) are caused by someone with a severe mental illness. But as someone who lives with a severe mental illness every day, the twist of this book made me ill. As I mentioned, anyone with depression in this book was considered bad and I don’t think that’s great.
SUICIDE ?? IS ?? NOT ?? A ?? CLEVER ?? PLOT ?? TWIST.
MENTAL ?? ILLNESSES ?? DO ?? NOT ?? MAKE ?? PEOPLE ?? EVIL.
Then, right after the plot twist, it went back to the fun, more light-hearted story that I did enjoy.
BUT UGH. the mental illness rep in this book was not great. At least, from my perspective.
So. I liked most of the characters.
I liked the story (3/4 of it).
The ending was okay.