Rating ALL THE STARS
I really love Karen McManus. She's an incredibly talented author and you can always count on that final line of the book to be a zinger (Especially Two Can Keep a Secret, holy shit that knocked me sideways.)
I have been basically harassing her on Twitter since One of Us is Next for another book set in Bayview because I love Nate and Bronwyn so much and I am completely ungrateful and ignorant of all the difficult work that actually goes into writing and publishing a book. (Okay, so I am really not, I know it is hard as hell. I just reeeeeeally love Nate. Probably an unhealthy amount, seeing as how he is 18 and not real. But I digress.)
Anyway, back to the book at hand. I have been waiting as patiently as possible, having pre-ordered it as soon as it was available. I got the notification from Amazon on Sunday that the book had shipped and would arrive December 1st. Lucky me, it actually came on November 30th and wouldn't you know, as soon as Eleanor was asleep I dove right in and didn't take a break for the next three hours until I had uncovered every last secret (though I bet there are more and maybe there will be some kind of 'quel' for this one too? Just like One of Us will hopefully become a trilogy? Right? RIGHT?!)
What I appreciate so much about the author's style is that even if it might feel like a slow-burn to those not as familiar with her work, there is truly nothing slow about it. It is all carefully planned and balanced to give the reader tons of little clues in the seemingly unimportant minutiae.
Let me straight up warn you right now, there IS NO minutiae, everything matters.
The problem is, I can't say a whole lot else because I definitely do not want to spoil this absolute treasure.
So, let's look at the premise instead, shall we?
The Story children were disinherited by their mother seemingly out of nowhere a couple decades prior to the opening scene. No explanation was ever given aside from a terse note proclaiming, "You know what you did." It seems that none of the Story children actually know what that means.
So, the next generation - Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah - have lived their entire lives not knowing their grandmother, and barely knowing one another. All three receive a strange summons, inviting them to come live on the family's resort and work there for the summer. Their parents make it quite clear that they have no choice, so the three end up together, getting reacquainted and learning that there is so much more going on than meets the eye.
I am happy to say that even though I had a few things kind of worked out in my head early on (Jonah) - I knew some of the 'whats' even though I did not yet know the 'whys', this novel is another work of art. Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah stumble along at times, unsure of their place and how they will go about accomplishing what their parents have tasked them with - regaining their inheritance. I finished the book and sat with it a moment, then went right back in, searching for passages that struck me as important at the time even though I was not sure exactly why it was important. Sure enough, the little signs were there.
I love that no matter how many novels I read, McManus will ALWAYS have a big surprise/reveal toward the end. What she does so masterfully is to make it all fit together seamlessly. Nothing feels like it is a stretch of the imagination, or that it couldn't really happen. The pieces all fit together quite nicely when all is said and done.
It is always hard to do a review like this of a highly anticipated work right at publication because I can't exactly show you WHY the book is so good. If I did that, there would be so many spoilers and that is not fair to those who have not read it yet. The book is classic McManus, full of twists and turns, some great surprises that I didn't see coming, and all tied together in the end when you were not sure how the hell she would end up doing so.
But she does.
Every. Single. Time.