The Cheerleaders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

**Thank you Netgalley for the ARC approval**
I couldn't put this book down. This book is a refreshing original book. Kara Thomas does not disappoint  I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book. I will be buying this for my library as well as pushing it into the hands of every student who likes mystery and intrigue.
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THE CHEERLEADERS, by Kara Thomas, is a terrific murder mystery with just the right amount of intrigue on every page. Kara Thomas is a wonderful writer, engaging my imagination on page one and keeping my attention through the very last page. 

As the fifth anniversary of the cheerleaders' deaths approaches, the main character, Monica, is determined to learn the truth, because Monica doesn't believe the stories that everyone else has accepted. She knows there has to be more behind how and why her older sister died.

Monica struggles to not only find the truth, but she also struggles to find her place in the world, making some questionable choices along the way.

Some of my favorite lines:

"The empty house has been the subject of my mother's bitching. All the house is doing is existing, not bothering anyone. It's exactly the type of thing that offends my mother."

"In my head, I break down the agonizing wait for Saturday. Twenty-four hours; nine class periods; one dance team practice; one awkward Friday family dinner at Ristegio's, the Italian restaurant in town; and one restless night's sleep. All hurdles to clear before I can talk to Daphne Furman."

" club boys plagued by ill-fitting jeans and cafeteria pizza breath."

"I knew what we were doing was wrong, and I didn't care because I was ready to set my perfect life on fire and walk away while it burned."

I highly recommend THE CHEERLEADERS by Kara Thomas to anyone who enjoys a twisty murder mystery. 

[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]
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First let me start off by saying holy crap what a book! Second this was my best first book by Kara Thomas and if her books are anything like this one then she just found herself a new fan! 

Monica finds her dead sister’s phone she begins lookinh through it to see why her sister committed suicide. Monica's own family wont talk about it, so she sets off by herself to find out. As she discovers things out about her sister she quickly realizes something isnt right about her sisters death and the deaths of 4 other cheerleaders. 

The Cheerleaders is a dark mystery full of twists and turns that will have you turning page after page to find out what happens next.  I have been craving an edge of your seat thriller leave you guessing! Loved this book and can't wait to check out this author's other books!
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Quick read, but I liked it! I was very invested in trying to determine the mystery. I liked the flashbacks between sisters, which kept me on my feet. I wish a few parts were more developed, but overall, it was a good book.
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I recieved a free galley from @prhinternational. This is an independent and honest review.

This blew me away. I'm usually not the biggest fan of YA thrillers, since I often find the plots too simple. So I started reading this without much expectations at all, but it sucked me right in and I couldn't put it down. I loved pretty much everything about it, it was fast paced and full of plot twists. If you're looking for an excellent YA thriller, this is the book for you!
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A tense YA mystery/ thriller for fans of A LINE IN THE DARK, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, ONE OF US IS LYING, and Meghan Abbot's books. 

Plot: There isn't a cheerleading squad in Sunnybrook anymore. Not since five girls died within a month of each other five years ago. One of those girls was Monica's sister and she's determined to figure out what really happened to those girls, convinced that the official stories are false. 

I really enjoyed this one and couldn't stop reading. It felt a little generic at first, although I liked the premise. However, it really grew on me and the ending was definitely unexpected which I appreciated. I would recommend this to fans of other YA mystery and thriller novels, and have already told a few people about it.
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Liked it, but didn't love it. It was too obvious who the killer was. I loved the main character and her sister, and it's a sign of how much that I still find myself wishing the book's mystery was actually more mysterious.
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Wow. This book was a ride. It kept me guessing until the very end. I'm convinced Kara Thomas writes the best endings. I'm always surprised, creeped out, and satisfied. She's definitely my favorite writer of YA thrillers. 

I definitely have students that will love this. I can't wait to recommend it to them this fall.
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The Cheerleaders is being marketed as "a little bit Riverdale and a little bit Veronica Mars" and as a CW/WB superfan, this couldn't be more spot on (and awesome). The Cheerleaders is a YA thriller that will definitely have major appeal in the adult market as well. This is my first book by Kara Thomas and definitely will not be my last! This book definitely packs a twist that is so well done I almost fell off my seat. Centered around a town where 5 cheerleaders die in a short time, including Jennifer, who's younger sister Monica just can't seem to untangle herself from the drama, things take an interesting turn, five years after the tragedies took place. I had my guesses, some of which were right, but the ones I did not see made this book absolutely awesome for me!
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Five years ago, five cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook died in three separate tragedies.

First, two girls were killed in a gruesome car accident.
Soon after, two girls home alone at a sleepover were murdered.  A suspicious neighbor was shot by police and they'll never know why he did it.
The final cheerleader Jennifer committed suicide not long after her four best friends died.

Now, Jennifer's little sister Monica has gotten into some trouble.  (*ahem* The kind caused by reckless behavior with an older guy.)  Back at school with the fifth anniversary of the deaths looming close, that older guy who was a summer fling is now the track team coach.  (Awkwaaaard.)

Sunnybrook High wants to plan a memorial for their five lost cheerleaders but Monica would rather forget.  When she finds mysterious letters and her sister's old cell phone in her stepdad's desk, Monica begins digging in to the past she wanted to bury.

Was there someone targeting the Sunnybrook cheerleaders, connecting all three tragedies?  Was the car accident *really* an accident?  Was the suspicious neighbor the real killer?  Did Jennifer actually kill herself?  As Monica learns more, suspicion is cast on her stepdad.  Can it be a coincidence that he was not only the first police officer on the scene of the car accident but also the officer to shoot and kill the neighbor suspected of murdering the next two girls?

Monica's determined to find the truth with the help of her new friend Ginny and a few surprising people from Jennifer's past, but soon secrets and lies are revealed that could put Monica in danger.

This was a well written and highly entertaining YA mystery with a great pace!  I practically read this book in one sitting because as new information was revealed, I needed to know what was going to happen next.  I figured out a good portion early on but it took a while to piece together how it all fit and the conclusion was truly well done!

Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Five years ago, five cheerleaders died. Now one teen is desperate to find out what happened in THE CHEERLEADERS.

Sunnybrook is a quiet, relatively wealthy suburb with good schools and low crime, but no one in town is quite at ease– Not after what happened to the cheerleaders.

Monica remembers what happened five years ago vividly. It started with an accident: Bethany and Colleen, two members of the award-winning Sunnybrook High cheer squad, died in a horrific car crash. A week later, her sister’s two best friends and fellow cheerleaders, Susan and Juliana, were murdered by a deranged neighbor during a sleepover. The murderer was killed in a confrontation with police, keeping his motivations a secret forever. And then it happened: Monica’s older sister Jennifer died by suicide. The Sunnybrook High cheerleading squad was labeled “cursed” and disbanded. Monica’s family has never been the same.
Now Monica is a junior at the same high school and a member of the elite dance team with two best friends of her own. But with the five-year anniversary of the cheerleaders’ deaths approaching, Monica’s life is spiraling in ways that even her best friends don’t know. She’s always felt that Jen’s death was suspicious, and when she finds reason to believe Susan and Juliana’s deaths didn’t play out the way the police (including her own stepfather) said it did, Monica goes on the hunt for answers. If she can’t fix her own life, she can use it to find justice for the cheerleaders.

Kara Thomas is a favorite mystery/thriller author of mine because she always does mysteries right. This novel will make you squirm. There are so many possibilities to consider, each one a little darker than the last. The suspect list plays into our innate fear of others, then examines and often breaks the stereotypes surrounding various “types” of people. You’ll never know who to trust and just when you think you have the answer, another detail comes along to prove you wrong.
Monica is a smart, capable female lead who’s willing to go out on a limb. She makes some questionable decisions in the course of her determination, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call her “reckless.” She’s going through some pretty deep trauma, some of which may be difficult for some readers, but it added a level of complexity to the character. Her family life seemed very realistic in the sense that– while they clearly loved each other– they weren’t overly-close besties. In fact, part of Monica’s guilt stems from the fact that she and Jen were not the best of friends.

I really enjoyed Monica’s relationship with Ginny, a shy girl from school who wasn’t a friend until she got caught up in Monica’s quest for answers. It speaks to those moments in life where you’d feel more comfortable opening up to a stranger than your best friends, knowing that your best friends would have to carry the weight of what haunts you. Ginny is haunted in her own way and the two share a connection turned friendship that’s sweet to watch in between all the sleuthing and plotting. I do wish we saw more of the relationship between Monica and her best friends prior to her investigation, because without it, you didn’t really feel the full force of their connection or care about their drama. There are several other interesting characters along the way, but they tend to be people Monica meets for a casual interrogation or two, so I don’t want to give too many details away.
Because there’s so much engrossing mystery, this is a story you can fly through. On top of that quick pacing, it’s not particularly long novel, so a reader in need of a thriller fix could probably get through it in a day or two.

{Trigger Warning + Minor Spoilers!} The Cheerleaders did a solid job dealing with difficult topics, including statutory rape and abortion. Monica struggles with it, especially when she’s face-to-face with the guy involved. Monica questions herself, even blames herself at times, which is hard to read, but her personal journey is largely about her realizing that none of it is her fault, despite rape culture telling her otherwise.
The novel did well in not glorifying or focusing too hard on Jen’s (reported) suicide. We never get details of exactly what happened and though there are some flashbacks to Jennifer’s POV, they end well before her death. Instead, the focus is on the people who loved her and how they were affected.

If you like dark, sweeping small town mysteries, The Cheerleaders is a riveting puzzle that you certainly won’t solve right away.
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The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is a young adult mystery that I’ve been anxiously awaiting having read this author before. Before I get too far into this review though I need to warn yet again that this one is going to be for the older crowd with a lot of darker content that may be disturbing to some.

As the book begins readers are introduced to Monica who is now in high school and battles the memories of her older sister every day since she’s been gone. Five years before Monica’s sister was a cheerleader at Sunnybrook High when tragedy struck the town in three different incidents. First an accident took two of the girls then a murder took another two leaving Monica’s sister who then took her own life.

As one can imagine it’s been a rough few years for Monica and now that she is in high school and on the dance team since cheerleading is no longer an option Monica lives with the memories every day. While searching for some pain medicine Monica finds letters sent to her step father insinuating there was more to the girls deaths than mere coincidence so Monica couldn’t help but begin to look into the past and try to find some answers.

It honestly did not take but a few pages for me to become completely engrossed in this book after I picked it up.  Monica immediately became someone I needed to know more about when it became apparent this girl was bordering on spiraling out of control herself. A hook up with an older man has Monica recovering from an abortion so already the dark content seeped into the story and I became engrossed in getting to know her and learn her sister’s story.

The majority of the point of view comes from Monica but occasionally you get to also go back and learn Jennifer’s situation from her point of view as Monica uncovers just what happened five years before. Really, anyone that knows me at all can see a 4.5 star review for an almost 400 page book and know that it had to be pretty intense if I’m not complaining of the story dragging. Instead with this one I thought it flowed rather nicely with plenty of things happening to hold my attention so I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Kara Thomas has become known for her thrillers. Her first two really didn't interest me very much, but The Cheerleaders seemed right up my alley.  Twisty psychological thrillers are all well and good, but there's something about a good murder mystery that I like more so. And the Cheerleaders really delivered on that. This was a straight up whodunit with a great cast of characters and a great mystery. I liked how Monica wasn't overly competent, but made mistakes and needed help as opposed to being some detective prodigy. The overall mystery was intriguing and left me guessing until the end and the writing style was utterly solid. I don't know if Thomas' other books are for me, but this one sure was.
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Five teenage girls all dead within a month of each other. There has to be a thread linking them all together, right? Monica's sister was one of the girls lost five years ago and through a series of events, begins to investigate the three different incidents that led to the girls' deaths. Nothing is as it seems and the dots must be connected. 
I loved this book. Thomas did such a good job of making you think it could be any of the characters that Monica talks to along the way. I couldn't put it down and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery.
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I read a lot of mysteries and I also happen to read a fair amount of young adult and when you combine the two, I'll be honest, it doesn't always work. But once in a while it does and in the case of The Cheerleaders, I think it's safe to say that is did, indeed work. 

It kept me on edge constantly guessing how all these girls died and if they were murdered, ever single one of them, all in different horrible ways. And if they were, they why, and most importantly, who was responsible?

This is one of those reads where you never quite know what is happening. Not as in, where is the plot going but more as in, where they murdered? Was it a tragic accident, or was it something more? Who is the bad guy here if there even is one?

Back and forth I would flip between if they were or weren't and I loved it. I love that I didn't guess every single thing (like I normally do) after only the first few chapters. I like that this kept me on edge and wondering. That doesn't always happen, in fact it happens very little, even in adult mysteries. 

Definitely a page turner that I enjoyed right up until the very twisty end.
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"The Cheerleaders" by Kara Thomas was one crazy ride.  I absolutely loved it.  Monica's sister Jennifer was one of five popular cheerleaders who died under suspicious circumstances five years ago.  She teams up with one of her friends and they begin conducting their own investigation.  This hatches up numerous suspects and circumstances surrounding not only Jennifer's death, but the other cheerleaders as well.  It kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page.  I was very surprised when it all finally came together.  This was my first book by this author and it will not be my last.  Highly recommended.  Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for the advance Kindle copy of this book. It’s out tomorrow! (7.31.18) All opinions are my own.
After five members of the cheerleading squad were killed in one month, Sunnybrook High School disbanded the team. Five years later, the younger sister of he fifth cheerleader starts looking back into her sister’s suicide. There’s no way Jen, who was so loved by everyone it seemed, would do that. Monica is convinced that someone actually killed her sister. When she finds letters in her stepdad’s desk drawer - one for every year her sister has been gone - that urge him to “connect the dots”, she believes that the five deaths are connected somehow. With an unlikely new friend and a lot of twists and turns, Monica goes down a dangerous path to discover the truth.
This is a quick, captivating read and is perfect for high school collections.
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Recommended Read 

YES!!! This book had me hooked from the first page all the way though to the end. Kara Thomas is getting better and better with every book she writes and I know I am going to be anticipating every release with my grabby little fingers! If I had to describe her books, they are like Liane Moriarty's type of books but for young adults. Bloody fantastic! If you like young adult murder mysteries, or even murder mysteries in general, then this is THE book to add to your TBR today. It is a gripping, page turning read that will leave you chilled! 

As the synopsis states. "there are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook..." The principal decided that after 5 cheerleaders died under horrific and strange circumstances that this activity should be left in the dust. But that doesn't mean that the cheerleaders demise was being swept under the rug. Because one cheerleaders sister is looking into the past to find out what REALLY happened to these five girls and whether the cops had it wrong the first time... 

This book edges on the darker side and readers can feel the mood as they turn the pages. Not just this though, the book has a tinge of excitement to it. Because as readers WE want to crack the case just as much as Monica does in the story. Kara writes this book in a mesmerizing fashion, and those who read it will understand what I mean. It's as if you are a part of the story as well because you quickly becomes sucked into the story. 

Obviously, I recommend this one very much. I think many are going to love it. And I personally would recommend it. I didn't see the ending coming, and I felt the climax was excellent!
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The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas had me turning page after page into the wee hours of the morning, determined to find out what really happened to the five cheerleaders of Sunnybrook High. I fully wasn’t expecting myself to get so pulled into this book. The summary of the book doesn’t really do the book justice because I thought I was getting into a very cheesy novel about high school, but what I got was so much more than that. There was suspense and a mystery that was so carefully planned out that it made everything so much more enjoyable.

The story follows Monica, the younger sister of one of the cheerleaders who passed away, as she tries to determine if there is more to the deaths of the cheerleaders than what the police have said happened. Woven into her journey of discovering what really happened, you see Monica go through struggles of her own: an abortion, a relationship with a much older man who turns out to be the new coach at her school, and the ups and downs of high school life. It’s a wild ride, honestly, but a great one.

I think what bothered me the most about this book, though, is her relationship with the older guy. About midway through, I was wondering why he was even important to the story considering he was rarely mentioned past the first two-three chapters. Sure, she had a lot more going on and didn’t need to be worried about him anyway, but his importance returned late in the novel, like the last two-three chapters in the novel late. I think it would have been interesting to see him a little more woven into the story. I mean, he worked at her school. There had to be more issues there, right? And another thing that bothered me is, why did the neighbor say “I’m sorry”? I truly was hoping that would be answered. What was he apologizing for? For creeping on his neighbor? I mean, was it that simple, or is there more to it that I missed?

Regardless, this novel was such a great read. Discovering who was responsible for the two murders was intense, seeing how it went down when it came to the car accident was bizarre, and finally, spoiler, Monica’s sister’s suicide was heartbreaking. I could totally see this being turned into a movie in the future…or a Netflix series. Either way, I would be down to watch.
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This is the second book I’ve read by Kara Thomas and I find her just as great now as when I read The Darkest Corners.

Five years ago, five cheerleaders died tragically. Two in a car accident, two in a shocking murder and the last was Monica’s very own sister, Jen, who took her life. To this day Monica struggles, her older sister didn’t seem the type.

One day Monica comes across both her sisters old cellphone locked away in her police stepfather’s desk as well as letters that urge him to “connect the dots”, finding a hope she didn’t know she was looking for Monica starts to puzzle out what happened five years ago, when she was too young to know much more than she lost her sister. Finding the cellphone and note starts Monica on a journey that many probably wish she hadn’t started but she’s not going to stop until she gets some answers,

This is a good story, the characters are nuanced, bad decisions are made, good decisions are made, and Monica and her friendship with Ginny was great. It was wonderful seeing it flourish, but I had a big question about it and that gets answered in a final chapter that blew me away. There is a lot you don’t expect (at least not until a bit near the end) and a little you do. 

I love mysteries but typically find it hard to enjoy YA ones for multiple reasons. This book was a great story and a great mystery and I’d definitely recommend.
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