The Cheerleaders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

Five years ago too many of the cheerleaders died, causing the small town of Sunnybrook to shut down the cheer program. Monica never understood what happened to her sister, why certain choices were made. And when she finds a clue to what was really going on five years ago she can't let it go. But someone else wants the past to stay buried.

Kara Thomas does it again, and it is just like magic. This is the third book I have read from her and I have not been disappointed in the slightest. Her characters feel real, like actual people with flaws and hopes and fears, someone you could pass on the street- and never know the darkness that lives inside. But not only that, the teens actually read like teenagers, not adults playing as such which helps add to the story and the situation. 

This will be a brief review since watching the story unfold is best part and I do not want to have any spoilers. Overall I found this to be a great read with a complicated mystery that kept me guessing. This book was not as twisty or as messed up as Little Monsters was (yeah, that one was a doozy!!) but instead it felt like something that could happen to any teen, in any town, adding to the realism of the plot. Let me just tell you though, the ending (last few chapters) was the best part of the book and so surprised me. I wanted to be horrified yet cheer at the same time. I highly recommend The Cheerleaders for anyone who likes a dark YA mystery with plenty of suspects and surprises. 

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This has been much-buzzed and for good reason. My patrons really enjoy this one and I plan to recommend it to older teens and young adults.
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Kara Thomas is now an auto-buy author for me, though I read her books out of order, so The Cheerleaders was my second of her 6 novels (3 published under the pen name Kara Taylor) that I read. The Cheerleaders kept me turning pages, and several moments/images from it have stuck with me all year--I just found the premise so sad (all those girls dying) especially once you knew the how/why behind it all. I love the way Thomas is inspired by true crime and examines issues like toxic masculinity and rape culture through her work. There were a few tiny issues I had with the resolution, but they weren't dealbreakers for me, personally.
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*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

I was very excited to read this book. As I started it, it was more of an adult YA thriller than I expected. For example, there is a teen abortion, sex, drugs, statutory rape, and so many lies! I have never encountered a main YA character who had a abortion before, so kudos to having real teen situations. 

The mystery itself didn’t quite float my boat. You expect me to believe that a high schooler would figure the mystery out? I found the final twist to be good, but by the end I didn’t care enough about the main character, Monica, to care if she got her peace or not. 

Yet the book was a quick read and it does have its twists and turns. I’m sure many will enjoy.
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I don't normally read contemporary but I really enjoyed this one. The mystery and the plot kept me hooked from beginning to end.
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"The Cheerleaders" is a real page-turner. The title and cover are a little misleading; it is not a campy thriller. This is a pretty dark mystery that addresses real issues like teen suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and other heavy topics. 

The book is written mostly from the point of view of Monica, whose older sister, Jennifer, committed suicide five years previously. Monica begins to question what why her sister killed herself, and starts her own investigation into her sister's death. Adding to the mystery were the deaths of three of Jennifer's close friends shortly before her suicide. As Monica begins to get closer to the truth, she may be putting her own life in danger. 

Overall this is a solid YA mystery/thriller, with definite appeal. Will recommend to readers.
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Writing reviews for Kara Thomas’s books proved to be a great challenge for me, so I’ll try my very best to produce coherent thoughts along the way.

The story opened up with a great line. “This house was made for someone without a soul.” First line, and I was already captivated. I was really excited to read this book, because Kara Thomas never disappoints. Reading this book got me really excited as I delved into it further.

Monica’s sister, Jen, died along with a string of deaths involving people from the cheerleader team. Five years later, the school wanted to hold a memorial for the cheerleaders but for Monica, she just wanted to forget. I really enjoyed Monica’s character and personality. She definitely stood out among all Thomas’s heroines because of her driven personality. Her thoughts are raw, blunt, and honest, which sometimes lead into confrontations that make my heart burst.

I also love how this book had healthy representation of family dynamics. I mean, Monica and her family doesn’t always see toe to toe, but in general her parents have always been supportive of her, even in times of grief. This book also was one of the few books which has shown a good relationship between the heroine and her step-father. Honestly, I’d live to read more of this kinds of relationships and eventually bury the stereotype of abusive step-parents.

Monica’s friends and their relationship proved to be realistic. They had their ups and downs, especially when Monica started hanging out with Ginny, who was basically an outcast from their circle of friends. However Monica’s intention was clean and she really just wanted to keep her friends away from shady trouble as she tries to find out what really happened to her sister and the cheerleaders.

The ending was solid and it packed a punch. I was obviously dumbstruck, but as always Thomas knows how to deliver a good ending. Of course, I can’t say anything but I’ll let you know that I had to pick my jaw up from the floor.

Kara Thomas has an exceptional caliber that I’m always looking forward to when it comes to thrillers. She knows how to direct readers and maintain the suspense that will definitely send chills into everyone’s spine.

If you’re a big fan of thriller/mysteries and whodunnits in general, you should definitely check out this book!
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Suspense is a highly-sought after genre in my library. The Cheerleaders did not disappoint. The element of suspense and shock kept me turning the pages late into the night. Kara Thomas is one of my go-to authors for suspense after being dually impressed by this novel, as well as Little Monsters.
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The Cheerleaders opens as a a grieving town is coming up on the anniversary of the death of five of their high school cheerleaders. Two died in a car accident, two in a horrific murder and the fifth in an apparent suicide.  The suicide victim's sister Monica begins to suspect that her sister Jen's death was not a reaction to the death of her friends and decides to investigate.  Told in alternating chapters from Monica's first person perspective and Jen's third person flashbacks,  the mystery unravels as Monica looks into some anonymous letters she found in her stepfather's desk, along with her sister's phone. Stepdad was the police officer who killed the supposed murderer. The letters intimate that all is not as it seems.  The car accident and the murders are linked and the real culprit is still at large. Monica becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth, alienating her friends and aligning her with people tied to the mystery.  Jen's chapters slowly reveal her disenfranchisement from her friends  and then horror and guilt over their deaths.  Readers will enjoy guessing the outcome of this complex well-written mystery.
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I tried to read this several times.  This book just isn't for me.  It did not hook me at the very beginning, so I couldn't continue reading it.  I kept forgetting that I had even began.  Sorry for the trouble.
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Actual rating: 4.3 stars

TWs: rape, drugs, suicide, and underage intimacy 

Where, where, where do I begin? Here's a summary of my fresh thoughts:

- Kara does it again. Every single time I swear her mystery thrillers are the best palette cleansers. I'm speaking as someone who just came back from a slump.
- Again, I was legitimately on the edge of my toes the entire time. To be honest, I have a hard time reading through ebooks but heck, I cannot put my phone down for this book.
- In relation to that, the writing and the pacing was unbelievably smooth. Despite needing to pause for brief moments, I was eagerly on the edge of my seat craving for the next chapter. I could have read it in one sitting if not for my exams, boo.
- I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into. All I know is that I trust Kara too much and she just knocks my socks off.
- Honestly I was thinking about Buzzfeed Unsolved the entire time. The Ghoul Boys should really look this up, too.

I really liked:
- Monica, our main lead. I also liked the friendship that she developed in this story. The way she grew as the plot progressed as well as the unveiling of certain layers.
- The way the story was interwoven - kind off like a spider-web... like dots.
- The complexity it contains. It was so simple yet so complex. I don't know how to describe it but there's this certain ring to it that you just anticipate and scream every chapter. "WHODUNNIT???"
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A quick and exciting read full of twists and turns, but a somewhat clunky plot. Still, a quick read for someone in the mood for a dark mystery with some truly horrific elements.
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Kara Thomas's "The Cheerleaders" is a mystery full of twists and turns that not only offers readers a suspenseful story, but also explores deeper issues such as mental health, grief, and the consequences of our actions.  The characters are compelling and complex, believable in their fallibility and relationships with each other.  5/5 stars.
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The high school in Sunnybrook does not have cheerleaders. They once did, but in a short time a number of calamities fell on the cheerleaders of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident and two girls from the cheer squad were killed when their car hit a tree on a rainy night.  Then there was the murder and two girls were killed by a neighbor.  That man had been shot and killed by the police so a motive was never discovered.  And then there was the suicide.

All this was five years ago and now Sunnybrook High wants to remember the girls with a special ceremony.  But the emotional wounds are still a bit too fresh for some, including Monica - the sister of the suicide victim. But as memories are brought forward, new information reveals itself to Monica who now has suspicions that something else may have happened to some of those girls, particularly her sister. In her stepfather's desk Monica finds her sister's old cell phone and some strange letters. When Monica sends a text to the last person her sister communicated with on the phone, she gets a reply - but she doesn't know who it is.  And that person seems a little nervous about getting messages, after five years, from someone who died.

I would have to say that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting in to when I requested this book.  Some sort of publicity page for the book made it sound appealing to me and so I put in a request for it.   What I found was an expertly written YA mystery novel.

Kara Thomas appears to be a well-known author of YA drama, though I can't say that I'd read anything by her previously. But based on this book I'd be very interested in reading more by her.

The mystery is well put together and revealed in a very methodical, very natural-feeling manner.  I was constantly interested and never felt like I wasn't getting enough information (or too much) as I read.

But best of all, really, were the characters.  Monica, and all the people she interacted with, actually felt like any high school students today.  They weren't morosely full of pathos and going on and on, brooding and complaining about how no one understood them.  And they weren't simpletons, making every possible mistake to put themselves in more and more danger.  These characters were smart (without being geniuses), motivated, cautious, curious, and they had families...parents and siblings, and they lived and schooled inside a world much like our own.

This read was very smooth and often felt like a non-fiction work because everything worked together and felt so natural.

Looking for a good book? Fans of YA fiction or mysteries will want to make sure to read The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas - a well-written, wonderful novel.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked this book a lot, but the ending felt a little rushed and didn't fully come together for me. I thought maybe there could have been some more hints along the way because I felt like the resolution of the mystery kind of came out of nowhere.
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While I enjoyed the book it wasn't that thrilling of a "thriller" for me. I was expecting to feel much more stress while Monica is trying to figure out what happened to her sister, Jennifer and her friends five years ago.  I also felt like the ending was a bit of a let down.  While you do find out what happened to The Cheerleaders it felt too neatly wrapped up.  I do think a lot of teens will LOVE this book!
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I was pleasantly surprised with this one.  I was a little hesitant that with it being a YA book that it was going to be kind of cheesy and light, but it definitely tackled some hard situations and was a little dark at times.  I just wish the ending would have lived up to the rest of the book.  I was expecting way more from the conclusion.
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This book was so good. I had to finish this in one sit down, because I just didn't want to pause. The strong main character brings you into this mystery and she never lets it rest. I absolutely enjoyed the twists and turns that we got throughout the novel!
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One of my biggest pet peeves with YA books is when an author really doesn't seem to know how teens talk.  The dialog was so unbelievable I actually could not finish the book.
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This is an entertaining book that I think teens will enjoy. I did not Love it as much as The Darkest Corners. I found the ending to be anticlimactic and disappointing. I did purchase a copy for my classroom library because I think some students will enjoy it.
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