by Gretchen McNeil

3/5 Stars

#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil is about an app where you can stream live feeds of convicted criminals being hunted down 24/7. Dee Guerrera has been framed for the brutal murder of her stepsister. She wakes up on Alcatraz 2.0, the island where the worst criminals must fight to survive as they are hunted down by hired serial killers. The citizens can watch these executions from the comfort of their homes for free on The Postman app. Dee teams up with others on the island to prove their innocence and expose the reality of Alcatraz 2.0, but can they do it before they’re hunted down? 

The idea for this book was really cool and quite unique. The representation of social media and how that influenced the island was also pretty cool. The execution of the idea wasn’t so great, though. The story was incredibly rushed and felt a little undeveloped. I feel like the author could’ve added a couple more things to the plot because it didn’t feel like there were any subplots of any kind. This story had a lot more potential. I gave it three stars because, as I mentioned before, the idea was cool, and the climax of the story is really good. I would recommend this book if you don’t have anything else to read or if you’re looking for something that you can read quickly and isn’t that deep.  

Haniya W.

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by Gretchen McNei

.5/5 Stars

#murderfunding by Gretchen McNeil is about Becca, who’s struggling after losing her mom. A couple of days later, she encounters a girl named Seth, who tells her that her dead mother was none other than Molly Mauler, one of the hired serial killers on Alcatraz 2.0. After a new reality show, WHO WANTS TO BE A PANIAC?, is announced, Becca and Stef go to audition together, both on different missions. The show is said to be a follow up to Alcatraz 2.0 without any of the real blood and death. Becca is trying to prove her mom’s innocence, while Stef is trying to prove that Becca’s mom was indeed Molly Mauler. But the reality show proves deadlier than it seems when people are killed, and Becca ends up being caught up in the middle of it. 

Out of the three books in this series, this one was my least favourite. The characters are really bland and don’t have much of a personality. The story was incredibly slow-paced, and the plot was really uninteresting until the last couple of chapters. I don’t think this book added to the series in any way. The only thing I liked was the fact that it went back and forth between the main characters from the last book and the main characters of this book. Honestly, if you’re reading this series, I would recommend skipping this book and reading the other two because this one does absolutely nothing to add to the trilogy and is poorly written. 

Haniya W.

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by Gretchen McNeil

4/5 Stars

#noescape by Gretchen McNeil is about a girl named Persey and the seven other contestants who are invited to participate in an all-star escape room competition with a huge $10 million prize. But soon into the challenge, the escape rooms prove personal and deadly. Contestants die off one by one. As they complete room after room, they start to suspect that they may all be connected in some way, and that they were chosen for this competition on purpose. This book is a prequel that predates the original series by 20 years. 

This was my favourite book out of all the books in this series. It gave a really interesting backstory to the series, which was much more interesting than the plots of the other books. Unlike the other books, it wasn’t unpredictable. It was also quite well-written, which is a huge upgrade from the last book. Escape room stories can be a little boring, but I thought that this one was really good and some of the escape rooms were actually quite unique. This book gives a bit of backstory to the other books, and you end up finding out who was behind The Postman app, which was super interesting. 

Haniya W.

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by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying was my first YA “Whodunit” book, and it did not disappoint. Karen M. McManus writes in a way that hooks you right from the very beginning and keeps you guessing until the end!  

One of Us Is Lying follows the story of five Bayview High students, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper and Simon. Bronwyn is an intelligent and introverted girl whose goal is to get into Yale. Addy is the popular high school girl who wishes to become the homecoming princess. Nate, also known as the school “bad boy”, is on probation for dealing and doesn’t believe he has a future doing much else. Cooper is a star athlete who has many successes ahead of him. Finally, there is Simon, the outcast and the creator of Simon Says, the high school’s notorious gossip app.  

On Monday, these five students find themselves all wound up in detention. At the end, only four exit the classroom. Why you ask? Because Simon is dead, and according to the investigation, it wasn’t an accident. Simon had planned to reveal dirty secrets on the four survivors the next day. Once this is found, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper all become prime suspects… is one or all of them guilty? 

This novel is definitely a page-turner. It is impossible to put down once you start reading as you want to figure out what happened to Simon. The story is told from the viewpoint of the 4 “prime suspects”, so you get to really relate to each of the characters in unique ways. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any teenager or YA!

4 Stars

Emma O.

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by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

“I didn’t invent this twisted system that pits us against each other and makes us do crappy things for status—but I do know how to play it.”

Ace of Spades in 7 words (because 7 is the perfect number): Queer. Mystery. Racism. Quick-read. Young Adult. Does this interest you at all? No? What if I told you it was described as a mix between Gossip Girl and Get Out? Yeah… I wasn’t able to resist either.

Summary: Chimaka is perfect — everyone says so and everyone thinks so. Devon is a nobody musician — no one thinks so and no one says so, because it’s true. The only thing the two have in common, besides going to the same school, is their skin color. Oh, and the fact they’re both being threatened and harassed by someone — or someONES — named ‘Aces’. When ‘Aces’ starts to reveal too many of their secrets… Chimaka and Devon team up to take them (singular… or is it?) down.

Things I liked: Diversity (black and queer main characters), the writing (super easy to follow and breeze through), the romance (there is both a man-loving-man relationship and a woman-loving-woman relationship and they’re both super cute), the plot twists (while I wasn’t surprised at many of them — I’m black and I’ve watched Gossip Girl AND Get Out — the few that did surprise me made me gape at a wall).

Things I disliked: Chimaka (super, super annoying — did I mention annoying?), the “Plot twists” (again, some of them were great but I predicted the majority), and the simplicity of figuring out the Aces ordeal.

Final rating: 4 stars

Quote: “When you grow up like this, whether it’s in your nature or not, sometimes survival overpowers doing the right thing.”


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by Alexa Donne

4.5 Stars

The Ivies rule the school at Claflin Academy. They’re a group of girls who would stop at nothing to ensure their spots in an Ivy League school. The five girls have been sabotaging the other students throughout their four high school years to ensure that they will always stay on top. They each applied to different schools to ensure they’d all make it in. When the leader of the group, Avery, doesn’t make it into Harvard, there is lots of tension among the group. What Avery doesn’t know is Olivia and Emma, who are also in the Ivies, also applied to Harvard. When Emma tells Avery she got in, Avery is furious. The next morning, Emma is found dead. With all eyes on the Ivies, Olivia must find a way to clear her name, while trying to find Emma’s murder. Along the way, she finds shocking information and learns the Ivies are deadlier than she ever imagined.  

There were so many shocking twists and turns throughout this book that I didn’t see coming. Each of the characters were so complex and necessary to move the story along. I really enjoyed this author’s writing style and how she made the story relatable for teenagers, even though it was about murder. Olivia, the narrator, had a really interesting take on the entire situation that helped you look at the story in a different light. The story took place at a boarding school, and the whole dynamic was much different than at a public school. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it!  

Hailey B.

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by Maika & Maritza Moulite

4 Stars

The young adult fiction, One Of The Good Ones, written by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite, was a depressing but yet a remarkable book. It tells the story of an activist teen, Kezi, who unfortunately dies in police custody after attending a protest. As Kezi’s family deals with grief, Kezi’s younger sister, Happi, sets out a plan to go on a road trip in honour of her sister. The road trip that Happi and Kezi’s friends are set on going, is the trip that Kezi has always wanted to go on right after she would have graduated from high school. The story isn’t just in Happi’s perspective, it’s also in Evelyn’s perspective, Happi and Kezi’s grandmother, but not just Evelyn’s perspective, it’s also in Kezi perspective. As you’re reading the book, in the beginning it’s very slow-paced, but as you continue to read more, all you want to do is find out what really happened to Kezi. Which, as your reading more, gets you very anxious, and at some point you just want to put the book down. Happi is very closed off in the beginning of the book, but as the story unravels you get to see truly who the real Happi is.

The way Maika & Maritza Moulite wrote this story truly feels as if you are present in the story. This book is very much a wake-up call to those that don’t believe what’s actually happened to black individuals, to those that don’t know how people treat black individuals. It’s very heartbreaking to know that people some people recently found out what black people go through, not just them, there are so many other races that are being treated horribly, and it’s sad to think that only because of what’s been happening in the past 2 years people have woken up. Overall, this book should definitely be on your list, although I wouldn’t suggest it to a younger audience because of all the heavy topics, I recommend this book to 14 years and older.

Hoda. D

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by Karen McManus

4 Stars

One of Us is Next is the sequel to One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. I was doubtful that the sequel would be as good as the first book, as generally speaking sequels are often a little disappointing. I’m happy to report that it is definitely not the case here! This novel is fresh, not predictable and in my opinion even better than the first book! 

One of us is next follows the story of 3 young teens, Maeve, Phoebe and Knox and is still situated at Bayview High. Ever since the whole “Simon Says” situation, there have been many copycats at the high school, but no one has been able to fill the gossip void quite like Simon did. Until now.

Now, there is someone playing an anonymous game of Truth or Dare. If one chooses not to play, a dark truth is revealed about them…

Phoebe is the first target, then Maeve. But when it comes to Knox’s turn, things are becoming more dangerous. The dares are becoming deadlier, and the truths are getting darker. Although Simon is gone, someone is trying to keep his legacy alive. Will there be a new mystery to uncover, or is this a simple game of truth or dare?

With this sequel, McManus chose to dive more into Maeve’s character (the sister of one of the main characters from One of Us is Lying), which I really enjoyed. I appreciated how she kept the characters from the first book as “extras”, as we get to know about them from this sequel’s characters’ perspectives. Although not mandatory, I would recommend reading One of Us is Lying first as this will provide the full background on the original main characters, as well as the vibe at Bayview High. I recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good YA and young teen mystery novel. 

Emma O.

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by Holly Jackson

5 Stars

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder : Jackson, Holly: Books

If you ask anyone in the town of Fairview who killed Andie Bell five years ago, they’d all tell you the same answer: Sal Singh. Everyone believes it, and no one ever asks any questions; no one, except Pippa Fitz-Amobi. She knew Sal and can’t believe he would ever murder anyone. Especially his own girlfriend. For her senior project, Pippa decides to look into the case and solve it once and for all. With the help of Sal’s brother, Ravi, she follows each and every lead to find the truth about Andie’s murder and Sal’s suicide. Instead of finding answers, Pippa keeps turning up with more questions. As she starts getting closer to the truth, someone keeps trying to cover up their tracks. Pippa starts to get threats, but her interest in the case only grows. It starts to take over her life. She starts questioning everyone and everything around her. A detective can never trust anyone. She decides no matter what, she needs to find out who killed Andie Bell? 

I couldn’t put this book down! Each time I thought I solved the mystery, there was a new twist that completely threw me off course. Each character was so complex and had a key role in the story. Pippa’s perspective was very enjoyable to read, and I felt like I could really relate to her character. This is the best murder mystery story I’ve read, and I recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t usually enjoy mystery books. There are elements of comedy, romance and thrill to keep everyone intrigued. The story was so fast-paced, and I was never bored. If you’re looking for an entertaining, suspenseful read, this is the book for you.

Hailey B.

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You’re Next

by Kylie Schachte

You're Next by Kylie Schachte

Flora Calhoun has a history of finding dead bodies. First, it was Lucy, a classmate whose body she discovered while out for a jog. Now, years later, Flora is still resentful toward the polices inability to arrest the killer.

At school, Flora now has a reputation for sticking her nose in other people’s business and getting into trouble. One night, Flora receives an unexpected phone call from Ava McQueen, a girl who captured her heart, then stopped talking to her.

When Flora arrives to help Ava, she finds her bleeding on the pavement, and Flora is launched back into her memories of finding Lucy. Now, after finding not one, but two bodies, Flora sets herself out to find the murderer, no matter the cost.

Kylie Schachte has written a gripping thriller! An intense story with a flawed main character, You’re Next is bound to be your next favourite read.