The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

I feel like everyone is trying to one up Gillian Flynn in mysteries nowadays. I feel like they want to create books with messy main characters that straddle the line between good and bad; create messy contemporary plots along with the overall mystery; EVERYONE IS A MYSTERY AND NOT TO BE TRUSTED; and they just want to create a super big plot twist at the end that has people :O and giving all the crowns. I feel like this book did some things good in this formula and failed in a few other ways.

I have to give Kara Thomas so much credit for creating a book that really did have my binge mood set to extreme. Even if I was kind of upset with the book or not feeling, I literally felt my fingers moving themselves over to pick up the book yet again. It was captivating and I couldn’t stop until I found out the ending. Thomas really does know how to suck you in, and even if you’re glaring at most of the characters, you must find out what happened to them. Thomas also does have a nice writing style that is super easy to complete the total binge read.

Oh, where do I even begin with the book? I felt like I got myself into a mess and I can’t even figure out how to explain it.

I think the biggest issue that I had was with the characters. They really didn’t have much depth to me. They were just kind of there. I never felt deep for any of them, and even if you are going for messy, morally grey characters, I am supposed to feel something for them. I wanted to feel Monica’s pain and worry for her and get all the feels, but I just…everyone felt really mystery character surface level. I don’t think I can even tell you a favorite character that I had, because I literally have no feelings for any of them. I could say maybe I liked Petey, Monica’s little brother, or Mango the dog the best but I think I would be lying BECAUSE I DON’T FEEL ANYTHING FOR THEM EITHER. I’m not sure where the disconnect came from, but I think it had something to do with the fact that most of everyone’s characteristics is just “solving this mystery” and that’s the only part to their personality that I could really pick up on.

Also, I was super not a fan of what Ginny and Monica did to poor Officer Mike. That’s where I felt like we moved from straight up messy characters to kind of the unlikeable narrator?

I also felt like there was a lot of plotlines that got dropped and picked up when they needed to be. For the first few chapters of the book, Monica is dealing with the aftermath of an abortion before she jumps diving deeper into her sister’s suicide. However, after she finds those first few files and letters that gets her wondering if her sister and the rest of the cheerleaders’ deaths were really accidents/etc., she never mentions it again after the first time. There was also this recurring character of Jimmy that would keep popping up that would pop up for a second and then fade back into nothing. And I still don’t know whether or not a character was doing drugs because I felt like there were different times in the plot that it was answered but then promptly unanswered.

And then the ending. I’m still a bit confused. I feel like I still didn’t get the full understanding of Jen’s death. We were so focused on that for almost all of the book, but I still have a lot of questions regarding it. I felt like it got brushed aside so we could focus on…well, definitely that last chapter that came out of nowhere and also Jules’s and Susan’s. There was also one big major thing that didn’t make sense at the end as well about the first suspect. Also, I guess I had expected…something bigger? I mean, I felt like the ending for the murders at least fit, but I guess…I expected something MORE.

The leaves are quite fitting for this setting. And I bet Pocahontas would be kicking some mystery butt here for sure.

I will say that I didn’t feel completely surprised by the big reveal, but I also didn’t really see it coming. I got the pieces as they were coming, but I didn’t call it like I normally do. I felt like the pieces at least organically fit and it did make sense. It had good psychology behind it.

The setting was super cool as well. I really did feel like I was in a small town in fall where everyone knows everyone and dynamics are messy and dynamite. I liked the overall vibe of the book, and it really is the perfect mystery feel to take you right into fall.

Overall, this book wasn’t the book that I was so super hyped up for. It certainly didn’t meet my super high expectations that I put on it. I wanted so much more out of it, and I didn’t get the mystery that I was craving. It had some good moments with a mystery that made sense and its ability to keep me fully captivated. 2.5 crowns and a Pocahontas rating!


What do you think? Are you noticing a pattern in mysteries? What did you think of this book? Are you for or not for unlikeable main characters?


5 thoughts on “The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

  1. I always seem to love a small town setting, and I am glad to hear you compelled to keep flipping those pages, but I totally understand the characters hampering your enjoyment. Dropped plot lines make me nuts. I get really frustrated when things are left unresolved/unfinished.


  2. Very interesting. I haven’t read her books but I have slowly been getting more interested in these kind of books. Now I know what to expect going into it. Great review as always girl 🙂


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