BOOK REPORT for The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

 

Cover Story: Something Rotten

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

Continue reading >


 

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

Talky Talk: What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Bonus Factor: Teen Horror

Relationship Status: ID Network Binge Buddy

 

Cover Story: Something Rotten

I love a good blood-spattered cover, and nothing says “teen horror” like this one. When you think of classic high school clichés, cheerleaders and jocks are always at the top of the list. Add a little blood, and you’ve got an eye-catching design that takes me straight back to my days of devouring Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and Lois Duncan books.

The Deal:

Five years ago, Monica’s older sister was the last of five cheerleaders to die a sudden and horrific death. The tragedies were so shocking that Sunnybrook High no longer has a cheerleading squad, to escape the reminders of the girls they’d lost.

Something doesn’t add up, though. Monica has the distinct sense that people know far more than they’re saying—including her own stepfather, a police officer, and her new friend, Ginny, who knew Monica’s sister. When she starts digging, pieces of the puzzle surface: old letters, mysterious texts, a long-dead cell phone. Every fiber of Monica’s being is screaming that there’s more to the story, but she seems to be the only one who cares…except for, perhaps, the killer themselves.                                                       

Trigger Warning: This book contains incidences of statutory rape, abortion, murder, suicide, and references to school shootings. (Christopher Pike has nothing on Kara Thomas.)

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

Oh, Monica, you have had a rough go of it. Losing a sister—and all of her friends—would be horrible under the most benign circumstances, but not having any answers had led Monica to indulge in some seriously self-destructive behavior. I just wanted to give her a hug, make her go to therapy, talk about her sister’s memory, and help her apply to colleges. Does she do ridiculous, impulsive things that would make any parent of a sixteen-year-old choke on their coffee? Oh, yes. But she also comes from a place of being the “baby of the family,” who never got any sort of satisfying resolution to one of the most traumatic experiences a person can deal with, and I can understand that.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

There aren’t any sexy bits in this book, which is both good (that seems exploitative for such a dark story), and bad (sometimes you just want a hot makeout session in between learning gruesome details about teenage girls being murdered. I mean, I personally don’t, but I wanted Monica to put her face on a nice and respectful partner’s face, just for a break in her horror-show life).

Talky Talk: What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Every self-destructive behavior that Monica exhibits is a direct result of her parents’ failure to give her some answers. Aside from the plot, which was like watching a well-written version of an ID Network show (that’s a good thing!), it’s such an interesting look at how adults think teenagers can handle horrible truths. (They’re at risk of getting brutally murdered every time they step into school and they know it; I think you owe your kid some answers about a major town tragedy which directly affected your family.) I know I’m not the only one who felt as a teen that the grown-ups were shielding me from the truth, and Monica’s frustration fairly leapt off the page.

Bonus Factor: Teen Horror

I don’t know why I love true crime, fictional horror books, Law & Order, and the ID Network. It’s morbid to plumb the depths of what human beings will do to each other, but then again, we live in an often-dark world. Books like this one are not only entertaining, but they also provide a safe way to explore some serious themes. I’ve been craving some good teen horror ever since I was grossed-out and delighted by Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, and The Cheerleaders makes me want even more.

Relationship Status: ID Network Binge Buddy

Book, our date kept me guessing the entire time, and when I finally got the answers I’d been — sorry —dying for, I couldn’t decide how I felt about them. In fact, I thought about you long after our date had ended. You stand out among your peers on the shelf, with your crisp writing and your depths of human darkness. I haven’t been on a date with a body count like this in quite a while…and now I’m hooked.

The Cheerleaders is available now.

Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. She is also a literary agent. When she’s not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, goes to loud rock concerts, and thrifts for vintage everything.