It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.
Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.
Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down. *
As of right now, this book has a full five stars from me, though all I have is the abridged ARC I got at BookCon in May. Stephanie Perkins is best known for her romantic trilogy featuring Anna, Lola, and Isla, but this book takes a step away from the author’s norm by venturing into gruesome territory. I have not read many horror books, and I do not think I have read any young adult horror books (I don’t count the Goosebumps series as true horror), so I was not sure what to expect in terms of the level of detail put into the actual murders. Let’s just say, it did get VERY detailed – which is not a bad thing. Yes, I had to sort of skim over some sentences so my brain would not form a full mental image of the scene I was reading, but I love that Perkins did not shy away from describing the true brutality of these murders.
In addition to the grisly deaths of students at Osborne High and the mystery behind the identity of the killer, there is the shroud over Makani’s own past in Hawaii. The third person narrator continuously refers to Makani’s guilt over a mysterious incident on a beach back home, and her fear that the few friends she has in Osborne will find out about her terrible wrongdoing. One of these friends is Ollie, though it is quickly established that something more than friendship is bubbling between these two. One problem with this? Makani’s closest friends, as well as the rest of the school, think that Ollie could be the Osborne slayer. There have always been rumors about him circulating through town, even before the murders began, which leads the reader to wonder whether there may be dark secrets in his own past.
This book contains all of the romance I love Stephanie Perkins for, and she makes the reader care about the characters as though they were real people. Although it is generally minor characters who get killed off, prior to each slaying we are given a glimpse into the thoughts and daily lives of these people, making us care about them in a way we would not had we simply heard about them through the mouths of the protagonists.
With references to Spongebob, Raven-Symone, and my favorite college football team (Go Big Red!!!), as well as sweet lines from an attractive guy and LGBTQ+ representation in the form of a trans character, this is sure to make its way into my top ten favorites once I get my hands on the full book in September. I requested it from my local library when I was only 20 pages into the ARC!
*Cover photo and description are from Amazon.com.