The Cheerleaders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

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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Five years after the town of Sunnybrook disbanded the cheerleading squad due to the death of five cheerleaders, Monica starts unearthing some disturbing clues. As the younger sister of one of the dead cheerleaders, Monica has plenty of motive to figure out why her stepdad is hiding mysterious letters and an old cell phone in his desk.

But the more questions Monica asks, the more people clam up. Tight lips, old wounds, and terrible secrets abound in this smartly written whodunnit.

I loved the plotting in this story. It's well written and kept me engrossed through the entire book. I couldn't put it down! If you like YA mysteries or thrillers, you'll love this novel. It has a "One of Us Is Lying" vibe to it that I loved. 

Content: The book starts with the main character recovering from an abortion, but there aren't graphic details about the procedure (or how she got pregnant). There was some language (including a few f-bombs), violence, and make-out sessions (male/female).
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I absolutely loved this book! I am all about a good thriller/mystery. I will say I was a little weary going into this book considering I really enjoy adult mystery and since this was YA mystery I didn’t know how I was going to like it but I really did! Can’t wait to read more from this author. Thank you NetGalley for the copy!
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Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

JFC I read this one a looooooooooooooooooooong time ago. This was my third Kara Thomas book and I’m happy to report each one has gained a Star on its predecessor (a reminder to all – especially myself – to not tank an author because of one mediocre experience). The title alone had me singing the Omi song.

The premise of The Cheerleaders goes a little summin’ like . . . . 

“Some people say a curse fell over our town five years ago. What else could explain the tragic deaths of five girls, in three separate incidents, over the course of three weeks?” 

I mean, really . . . . 

“What are the odds that five girls from the same school, all friends, would die within a month of each other?”  

When Monica, the sister of one of the aforementioned dead cheerleaders, finds an ominous note and her deceased sister’s cell phone hidden away, she decides she’s going to take it upon herself to . . . 

“CONNECT THE DOTS. FIND THE TRUTH.”  

Then it’s only a matter of time before she realizes . . . . 

“If you look hard enough, you’ll find something that’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”  

Before anyone gets all "easy there, Nancy Drew" please remember this is a YOUNG ADULT mystery. Of course this gal is gonna get all up in the Mystery Machine in order to figure out if Old Man Jenkins had anything to do with all of this . . . . wait, am I mixing my metaphors or some such type of thing there? Whatever. Just go with it. Anyway, if you don’t enjoy YA there’s a good chance you won’t like this either. But if you do? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it’s willing to go a little dark. 

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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Kara Thomas tells a riveting story that grabs your attention and scares the life out of you.   But, you won't want to quit reading until the end.  Great thriller!
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Five years ago, some strange things happened to five cheerleaders that shocked the small town of Sunnybrook. It started with a suspicious car ''accident'' that killed two girls, then two other girls where killed by the man next door who was shot by Monica's cop stepdad Tom and then and Monica's sister died because of suicide.  After her loss, the high school cheerleader squad ended for good, because it reminded everone too much of the things that happened.

With a lot of memorial's going on for the cheerleaders at Sunnybrook High, it's not easy for Monica to let go of her grief and to move on. It becomes even more difficult when she finds her sister's cell phone and some strange letters in her stepdad Tom's office. She does some sleuthing and finds out that what happened to the cheerleaders is anything but over, and it certainly will not be over for the truth will come to the surface. Was the man that was shot by Tom the real murder? Or is the real suspect still walking around freely? She figures out that many people around her and on Sunnybrook high knew more and never told anyone, and this develops and ends to a suspect that is closer to her then she might expect..


The Cheerleaders is a thrilling new book by Kara Thomas. As far as I remember I haven't read one of her previous book so I didn't know what to expect. The book starts thrilling, and stays that way until the middle of it. Then it lacked a bit in speed and progress in the story. There is quite a cast of suspects in the story, even  Ginny who helps Monica to find the suspect, is not telling her everything that she has on her sleeve. Also Tom, a guy named Ethan and another cheerleader named Carly are on the list of suspects. Why is Tom hiding Jen's phone in the drawer of his desk? Who is the owner of the pickup truck that was seen by neighbors in front of the house of one of the cheerleaders the night that they where murdered? Monica search for anwers from all of them, and then finds out that there is one suspect that has been flying under her radar. All together the storyline is very good, with some slower moments but with an ending that gives you the chills! Don't miss out on this one!
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"The Cheerleaders" eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Kara Thomas (https://karathomasbooks.wordpress.com). Ms. Thomas has published six novels. 

I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in a contemporary suburban US community. The primary character is 17-year-old Monica Rayburn. She is on her High School competitive dance team. She probably would have been a cheerleader, but they didn't have cheerleaders at her school. At least not anymore, not for the last five years. 

Five years ago two cheerleaders died in an auto accident, then two more were murdered. A fifth, Rayburn's sister, committed suicide. All dead within three weeks. They had a suspect for the murders, but he was killed resisting arrest. Now Rayburn begins to question her sister's suicide. She is seeing evidence that maybe the man resisting arrest wasn't the killer after all. 

She gets hints at what happened five years ago from a strange neighborhood boy. She hears other things from her stepfather, a cop, and the man who shot and killed the murder suspect. Then there are the things that she hears from people who were close to the dead girls. The more she finds out, the more she questions the official story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the near 7 hours I spent reading this 384-page young adult mystery. I liked the characters created for this novel and the convoluted plot. This is a bit of a dark story, but I liked it. I also liked the plot twist at the end of the novel. The cover art is OK, but I think a better image could have been chosen. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/. 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
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I liked this. There were aspects of the mystery that were clunky, i.e. I didn’t understand a lot of the main characters’ thinking .... particularly when it came to who was guilty. It bothered me that she immediately assumed it was the loner kid. Also, I had a slight hard time believing that two teenagers could successfully break into a police officers desk. Still-- a good read! And the teens at my library will LOVE IT.
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Kara Thomas’ The Cheerleaders is a suspenseful and smart YA thriller about a resourceful teenager determined to figure out why her sister and four other cheerleaders died in a series of so-called accidents one fateful year. Told in the first person, our protagonist struggles with her own problems while peeling back the layers of a small town and exposing dangerous secrets about her family, her friends, and her sister. Wonderfully flawed and steeped in tragedy, Thomas gives voice to some dark themes and the complicated and often turbulent love shared by family. Leading readers down a rabbit hole of misdirection and dark twists, Thomas offers up an explosive ending that left this reader stunned.  

Five years ago a series of tragedies rocked the small town of Sunnybrook, leaving five cheerleaders dead. Now the town wants to honor them in a memorial but one of the cheerleaders’ sister’s, Monica, wants to know what happened and why. With her own history of poor choices and a series of anonymous texts to fuel her investigation, Monica will soon learn that not everything is sunny in Sunnybrook. Grade: B
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I devoured this in a matter of hours. And I’m a little surprised, because with The Darkest Corners, I didn’t feel as compelled. 

I loved the realism, as well as the slow build up to the thrills. But what I loved was Monica’s character arc. I thought that was even better handled than The Who Did It aspect. 

It’s dark and twisted, and if Thomas is going to continue writing books like this, I’m there for them.
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Monica has secrets that only her mom knows. She doesn't want to hurt her stepdad's career, but she has to know if they "caught" the right guy, she needs to talk about the deaths of her sister & her sister's best friends. She needs to know the truth behind everything and she makes an unlikely friend along the way. Ginny too has secrets, even though no one has noticed her long enough to realize she's hiding something. She's going to help Monica, but why?

This book is what I'm looking for in YA mystery. Teenagers that act like teenagers, but not in the completely obtuse, always getting into danger, stereotype. The girls are smart and observant. They use modern day technology in a way that teens would, to find people and answers. They get themselves into some sticky situations, but in a believable way. They want answers, but they don't want to hurt people with them. They were all flawed but oh so likable. I really enjoyed this book and I'm definitely going to be picking up Kara Thomas's other books to read in the future!
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I read The Cheerleaders about a month ago and I 've been sitting on the review because I was left uneasy. With that said, it was a good YA thriller filled with mystery and murder but there were two reoccurring issues that were pretty heavy-- suicide & abortion. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when it all ended but now I do and I hated it.

    I am a victim, whether or not I feel like one.

It's not that I don't think these two topics are appropriate for YA literature, as a matter of fact, I've read a few that addressed hard issues beautifully: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, The Girl Next Door or Ryan's Bed.

I do believe if you are going to bring the tough stuff in you better take the time to work through each and every detail, really dive into the characters' emotional processes and specifically identify instances that are wrong... DO NOT LEAVE GREY AREA for teens to read and walk away doubting they were victimized.

I never felt any closer, yes the mystery and sleuthing was original and clever but again, there was this whole situation that just kept getting but on the back burner. The continued thoughts of the victim constantly blaming herself for what should have been identified as statutory rape was just sad. Only to be followed by zero parental involvement in the decision of an abortion and not because the mom wasn't present.

It was basically a girl (with a lot of baggage🚨) telling her mom she was pregnant (by someone other than her boyfriend 🚨) and that her mom didn't need to know or worry about "him" 🚨. Followed by said teen making a "quick" decision before she could "think" about it 🚨. WHAT!?!?! Red flags for dayyysssss. 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 #redALERT

In all honesty, this story would have been better if the abortion was left out, yes it stung hard but it wasn't the real punch to the gut in the overall story arch and it actually caused more harm than awareness. The phrase "less is more" comes to mind.

As far as a dark thriller goes, the mystery was great and unpredictable. There were several plot twists that kept me going and it definitely flowed like an episode of Riverdale. I hung in there until the end but it did feel a bit flat at the conclusion, very anticlimactic. I really wanted it to be so much more.
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Slow, boring and distasteful. I really tried to like this book but the cringy school girl drama just would’nt let me! I hope other readers like if but this read just wasn’t my cuppa tea.
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