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You’ll Be the Death of Me : A Librarian’s Perspective Review

I’m sad to say that You’ll Be the Death of Me is the first Karen McManus book I didn’t like. I read and loved two of her other books on e-book, which makes me wonder if the audiobook I read this time was the problem. Or maybe her books are starting to feel a little formulaic?

AUTHOR: Karen M. McManus
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
PUBLICATION DATE: Nov. 30, 2021
PAGES: 336
GENRE: mystery
SETTING: Boston, Massachusetts and nearby suburb
GIVE IT TO: HS

AWARDS AND KUDOS

  • Booklist starred
  • SLJ starred
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2022)

SUMMARY

Former friends Ivy, Mateo, and Cal decide to skip school together one day. It isn’t long before they discover the lifeless body of classmate Boney Mahoney. Each one has a reason to want Brody dead, but would they actually murder him?

THE SHORT VERSION

I didn’t like this one much. I kept hoping it would get better, but in the end, I had to force myself to finish it.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME

Not really very much, to be honest. The popularity of the author and the interesting premise will make You’ll Be the Death of Me easy to booktalk.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME

The audiobook. This is nothing to do with the voice actors, who I thought did a great job with the material. The story has a lot of inner dialogue, which for me, dragged it down.

I loved One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret, both by Karen McManus. I compulsively read both books late into the night. Was the difference here that I read this one on audiobook? I don’t know. I do sometimes struggle with focus on fiction audiobooks, so it’s certainly possible.

Unrealistic timing. This story is set over an entire school day, but at almost 10 hours, the audiobook is longer than a school day would be. There is a lot of driving around in a major city (Boston and a suburb of Boston). I’ve driven through Boston; the driving should take a lot longer than it does.

I just did not connect with any of the three characters. Ivy comes off as annoying and controlling and privileged and seems like a generally bad person. Cal is dull and naive. Mateo is a little more interesting, I guess, but he didn’t wow me, either.

“Boney Mahoney.” Such an annoying, cringe-worthy name.

The local news. Did they seriously imply a high school girl murdered her classmate with literally no proof other than a blonde ponytail caught on camera? On the very day the body was found? Heads should roll on that one. Even if Ivy were arrested and had tons of evidence against her, the news cannot implicate her as the murderer. I don’t remember her age, just that she is a high school senior. If she is 17 on top of the false accusations, she could easily own that news station.

And the perpetual question underlying so many murder mysteries…Why does no one call the police to report a murdered high school student? Why does no one seem sad that this teen boy was killed? The three teens are innocent, so why do they run?

DIVERSITY

Ivy and Cal are white. Mateo is Puerto Rican.

ARTWORK/ILLUSTRATIONS

No internal artwork is included. The cover art is on-brand with other Karen McManus mysteries.

LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW

Themes: detectives, crime, drug dealers, inappropriate student-teacher relationships, friendship, secrets, murder

Would adults like this book? YES. I know lots of adults who love Karen McManus books. I’m usually one of them!

Do I recommend this book for high school libraries? Yes; no reservations

Do I recommend this book for middle school libraries? If you have other Karen McManus books in your middle school library, then you could get this one, too. The content is similar to her other books. The drug dealing and teacher-student romantic relationship could raise some eyebrows, so as always, know your school community.

MATURE CONTENT

Language: I read this on audiobook, which makes it difficult to be specific about mature language. There was some profanity, but I don’t remember it being gratuitous.

Sexuality: some kissing

Violence: a high school student is murdered off-page

Drugs/Alcohol: drug dealing is central to the story, but none of the main characters take any drugs

Other: inappropriate student-teacher romantic relationship

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