You'll Be the Death of Me

Book review by Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 14+

Teens solve a murder, expose a drug ring in twisty thriller.

Parents say

age 12+

Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+

Based on 5 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 12+

This whole storyline is about drugs, although they aren't really, actually, shown much.

Ivy's life is introduced to us through a skype call with her mother as they prepared to fly back from San Francisco. The expectations set upon her aren't really by her parents but are extremely high all the same. You can tell that her parents are the kind to support her but be disappointed if she failed in what she was doing, which is why she tries so hard. She doesn't want her brother, who is the real genius of the family, and the one that Ivy holds a little bit of disdain towards because of his overachievements, to be the one to introduce her mother. She volunteered the be the main person running the planning for the award ceremony, as she doesn't want her brother having all the attention, and still wants to be seen as helpful, and needed by her parents. Having just lost the school election she doesn't want to go into school until later, which is something she expresses to them, but they try and comfort her by telling her that it isn't a reflection of her abilities and that people who don't deserve things are able to swindle their way into getting them all the time. Mateo's life is hard for a different reason. His mother has osteoarthritis and so he has to work multiple jobs to pay the bills. His cousin, Autumn has lived there since her parents died. His mother offered to take her in, even though she is only family to her my marriage, not blood. Mateo and Autumn are close, not extremely close, but they do look out for each other and help the other when needed without question. While he works those two jobs, she has taken on three. Even with all the jobs, each other them have they are barely getting by. They didn't used to struggle that much, as his mother owned a bowling alley, which net them decent profits. This was until a random kid fell down, hurt himself a lot and then his parents decided to sue. It drained all their money and she was eventually forced to sell the place to Ivy's dad, James. Cal has two dads. One is called Wes, and he is the dean of Carlton college. Wes is the one that he will talk to about the more personal things in life, such as relationships - of which he has had many. Cal likes to draw and has been drawing webcomics for a long time. He has still continued drawing to this day. Some of these comics include his former friends, Ivy and Mateo, which his new maybe-but-he-isn't-sure-yet-girlfriend, thinks is the best one he has drawn. All three former friends are coincidentally drawn together again, having once skipped school together which is how they became friends in the first place, repeating their actions once again and skipping school together. Their unlikely group leaves the area, driving a bit away and ends up coming across the guy who won the school election instead of Ivy, Brian Mahoney. Knowing that he is supposed to be giving his speech, but is instead out, far away from the school, Ivy decides to follow him as she takes school seriously and doesn't want the person who took her job to be slacking off. Mateo and Cal follow shortly after, worried that she might get into trouble because Brian is known to have a bit of temper. When they enter they see someone's sneakers, still on, but they aren't moving at all. Ivy faints after seeing the needle, not the person, who they don't get a good look at, as police sirens grow louder, but they are able to get away, having come into the building without permission. This is when things start to spiral and you realise that all of them have something to lose. Some kind of stake in this case, whether they like it or not. The old friendship, old feelings start being drawn to the surface, even only after their first encounter with each other after all that time had passed. They investigate, trying to put the pieces they find together while also finding out things about the other that they never knew. Cal dating someone he should be. Mateo's cousin doing something she should be and he knows about it. Ivy hiding a secret that she accidentally caused pain to certain people while trying to get back at her brother. They're all hiding something and all of it connected to the solution. The stakes in this book don't feel as high as in Karen's other book, because the events that occur happen across one day's time. Because things aren't allowed to fester, and emotions don't really have as much time to boil over, it reduces how much impact this book really hold which is why I don't really think that it is up to the standard of her other books. Of course, books can be told in one day, there is no doubt about that, but with this storyline, it doesn't really mesh that well together. I thought that the storyline between Mateo and ivy was rushed. She did to him that she regrets, Cal also came between their relationship in the past and did something that he now regrets. In response to what Ivy did, Mateo said some horrible things to her, things that definitely would've taken longer to rectify than what was shown to have actually happened between them. Their fit together also didn't feel fully authentic. That was part of the main problem I had with this book. Some of the characters felt like they should've got more time on the page, whether it was just in a character's head, or actual interactions. The dynamics that they had needed to be further explored as well. Emily needed more time on the page. She is Ivy's best friend, someone who had her back the whole time and yet we only got to see her through text or interviews. I thought that was very strange and there needed to be more of her, rather than her just having one certain role. Mateo and Ivy had apparently been in love for a long time, him showing it with his actions, and her with her thoughts, and yet we didn't really get to see much of them when they were younger. When these feelings would've developed. It also always felt like she was thinking about him a lot more than he was of her. Like her storyline was to get together with her, plus a little more, while he was much bigger. Yes, this is nitpicking, but it is something that brings the book down from being on the same level as her, 'One of Us is Lying' and 'One of Us is Next' books. Overall I do like this book. Karen has got a great ability to create tension with her words, and always creates an interesting story, although the final reveal wasn't as satisfying as I had expected, as I had greater expectations in mind over what was going to be shown, and who, or what was doing to be the one who killed Brian. I think there were a lot of lost opportunities in this book, which is why rather than being a bad book, it is disappointing. I had been expecting more, which doesn't mean that this book was bad because it wasn't - it was good- but it does mean that I didn't feel as strongly in favour of this book as I would have if another author had written it. Would recommend it but if you're buying this book because you liked her other work, don't expect it to be as good as the others, especially, 'One of Us is Lying' and 'One of Us is Next'. 7.9/10

Book Details

  • Author: Karen M. McManus
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Topics: Friendship, High School
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Publication date: November 30, 2021
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
  • Number of pages: 336
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: January 5, 2022

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