First Lines: A sex tape. A pregnancy scare. Two cheating scandals. And that’s just this week’s update. If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher’s gossip app, you’d wonder how anyone found time to go to class.
So I wanted to read this not because it definitely sounded like something I’d like (though I do enjoy mysteries), but because it was so popular. I needed to see what all the hype was about. So if you’re someone who hasn’t read this and you’re wondering the same thing, this is for you.
Five students walk into detention on a Monday afternoon. Only four come out alive. The group is as unlikely as they are diverse. Bronwyn (the brains), Addy (the princess), Nate (the criminal), Cooper (the athlete), and Simon (the outcast). Only Simon never makes it out, and soon the police investigation determines his death wasn’t an accident. He died on Monday, but on Tuesday, he was set to post a revealing article about all four of the suspects–the students in the room with him. Is one of them guilty? Or have they been framed while a killer is still loose? Who has secrets so dark they’d be willing to kill over them?
The book jacket is certainly attention-getting. 5 kids walk into detention, 4 kids walk out alive. Who did it? And why? I like mysteries, so I thought this would be pretty good. However, what I dislike is these books that are more about who has the strongest motive (basically, who has the darkest secret?) and none of the speculation is really based in any real evidence. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t seem like the case makes much progress through most of the book.
Also, speaking as a teacher here, I know students can be nasty to each other, but I swear this class was made up of the absolute worst of humanity all shoved into one grade. The stuff they were doing was just horrible and I have never seen so many terrible people in one cafeteria. I know that this is probably a dramatic device more than anything, but I can’t help feeling like this sometimes normalizes this behavior for readers who may not know any better. It seems like all YA is printing anymore are books about horrible people with secrets to hide. We all have secrets, and social media is unforgiving, but the biggest scandals at my high school was who was dating who and maybe a pregnancy scare.
I’ll get off that train now. I did come to like the characters throughout the story. Cooper, Addy, Bronwyn, and Nate were people we didn’t necessarily like at the beginning but came to like as we got to know them more. They all had different personalities and underwent a lot of character development as the story went on.
I just thought the story was so slow. When I saw how the story was set up, just constantly pointing fingers at other people, I knew it was going to be a long read. There’s just very little in the story that makes it feel like you’re getting any closer to solving the mystery until near the end.
And because these mysteries are getting more common, I more or less figured out how it would end from the very beginning. It was just predictable to me.