Friday, March 2, 2018

Book Review: "People Like Us" by Dana Mele

"Does someone who does one bad thing, even one really bad thing, deserve bad things to happen to them? Deserve to be murdered or framed for murder?"

Kay Donovan wanted a chance to reinvent herself after a pair of tragedies marred her life and tore apart her family. She gets that chance by attending exclusive Bates Academy.

Although she is on an athletic scholarship, which sets her apart from her incredibly rich classmates, she becomes a star soccer player and part of the school's most exclusive clique. These girls are notorious for their cruelty, and while everyone wants to be their friend, it's more out of fear than popularity.

"You can get away with murder if you're lucky. You don't even have to be smart. Just have a social or political one up on everyone else. People look the other way if they want to. Everybody knows it."

One night before a ritual post-party swim, the girls make a horrifying discovery: the lifeless body of a fellow student. No one seems to know who she was, but it's not long before they all become suspects in her murder, especially Kay.

Then it turns out that the dead girl got her revenge, as she created an online scavenger hunt-of sorts for Kay, forcing her to expose her friends, At the same time, her new friendship with a girl they once ridiculed is causing a rift between Kay and her best friend, Brie, and making everyone around her suspect she had a hand in the girl's death.

While trying to solve the challenges the dead girl has given her, Kay has to come to terms with the betrayal of those she cares about, and figure out whom she can trust. But more than that, she has to decide who she is, and whether she's ready to come to terms with the destruction she's caused.

Dana Mele's People Like Us strives to be a cross between Mean Girls and Heathers, with a little bit of Karen McManus' One of Us is Lying, with mixed results. Mele tells a good story, and throws in lots of twists so you're not sure which characters to trust. I also liked that the characters' sexuality was presented in a matter-of-fact way.

The problem I had with this book is that none of the characters were sympathetic, especially Kay. That made it difficult to get fully immersed in the story. I also was a little disappointed with the way some of the plot was resolved, because I felt with all of the possible solutions Mele had, this was a bit of a cop-out.

In the end, however, this was an entertaining read, and I think it would make a fun movie.

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