It almost seems like a high school movie cliché- a geek, a jock, a princess, a criminal and an outsider end up in detention together.
But this isn’t The Breakfast Club- far from it.
For one thing, their reasons for being in detention are exactly the same- and none of them know how it actually happened. Secondly, when one of their number has an allergic reaction to something in the room and ends up dead, suspicion is cast upon the rest of them, especially after the death is deemed murder by the police.
But who could the culprit be? Everyone had a reason to want the victim, Simon Kelleher, dead. He was the creator of a notorious gossip app that revealed secrets that the students at Bayview High would never want made public. And although he only used initials to identify the players in his gossip tidbits, it was often enough for the students to work out who was involved. He caused heartbreak, created meltdowns and prompted suicide attempts- who wouldn’t want him silenced?
Could it have been Bronwyn Rojas- the geek- who has never publicly broken a rule but whose secret could tear apart her dreams of a place at Yale?
Could it have been Cooper Clay- the jock- whose baseball career is on the rise and would only be hurt by the secret that Simon might have on him?
Could it have been Nate Macauley- the criminal- who is on probation for dealing drugs, but is also trying to deal with other problems?
Could it have been Adelaide ‘Addy’ Prentiss- the princess- who appears to have the perfect life but has her own secret troubles?
All of them insist that they had nothing to do with Simon’s murder, but could one of them be lying?
With their lives spiralling out of control and the media and general public casting aspersions on their characters, it’s up to the four of them to band together, find out who has been framing them and uncover the truth about who really killed Simon…
This book actually surprised me. When I read the blurb, the novel sounded interesting, but it also sounded like something that had been done before. I didn’t expect the characters to have as much depth as they did, and while they did have all the angsty dramas I was expecting, there was also another aspect to the characters that set this novel apart from others of a similar genre. Each character is credible, and each has their own motive for wanting Simon dead, so you may find it quite a surprise when the criminal mastermind is finally revealed.
Split into three parts, this novel is told from the perspectives of the four teen suspects over a period of nearly five months (of which each entry is dated and timed). In each ‘entry’ we learn more about each character, their connections to the others, their motivations, the secrets they are trying to hide, and the repercussions of those secrets (both of keeping them and once they are brought to light). We are not made to sympathise to one particular character but instead see each as an equal suspect/victim of circumstance. Referencing current social media platforms keeps the setting in the now, and reminds readers that it wouldn’t be a long stretch for something similar to happen in real life today (although that would be a worrying thought).
This is a cleverly written debut novel and I can happily say that it exceeded my expectations.