Cover Image: We Made It All Up

We Made It All Up

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I love a good YA thriller, and I was intrigued by the summary of We Made It All Up, so I was excited to take part in this tour. This is my first book by Margot Harrison, but I’m definitely going to look at her backlist books now, too!

This book had a definite creepy, gothic vibe to it -- small town, creepy old house, and rich orphan twins whose family founded and named the town -- which is something I definitely liked about it. As with any mystery/thriller, it’s hard to review this book without giving anything away, but I will say that I really appreciated the storytelling method. It was told in alternating “then” and “now” chapters, of which I’m a big fan (the book I’m currently reading has the same setup!). In my opinion, it’s the perfect method for this story; since Celeste can’t remember anything past a certain point from the night Joss was murdered, we are discovering right along with her what happened that night and at the same time learning about how she first met Vivy, Sean, Bram, and Joss when she moved to the town a few months prior. It’s a great way to let the story play out and the facts trickle out. I will say the ending didn’t play out quite as I had guessed, and since I read so many thrillers, I always appreciate when an author can surprise me!

I really enjoyed this solid YA thriller with a creepy gothic vibe, and you shouldn’t hesitate to pick it up!

Rating: 4 stars!

**Disclosure: I received an early copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of this blog tour. This review is voluntary on my part and reflects my honest rating and review of the book.
Was this review helpful?
At several points this year have I pondered a perennial question, which many millennials will likely be familiar with: Am I too old for YA? Here is the thing: I love YA fantasy, but I am seriously beginning to question if I have reached my tolerance for rom-com, thriller-hype, coming-of-age stories. We Made it All Up had me asking this question many, many times.

We Made it All Up is a thriller-ish story of what can happen in small towns when groups of teens grow up together. It shares the anxiety of joining a new school, escaping past trauma, and finding friendships and first loves. However, it never really delivers on any of those promises fully.

As we are introduced to our narrator, Celeste, we also come to learn that she struggles to trust because of past trauma inflicted by an unknown, most often under-described person. On her first day at her new school, Celeste meets Vivvy, a social pariah whose family founded the small Montana town of Kray’s Defile. As Vivvy and Celeste become friends they also begin writing a queer love story between the most popular boy in school and the school stoner. Here is already where I began to wonder if I’d finish this novel. I texted a friend asking, “Would anyone actually do this?” For, as much as I fantasized about popular boys in high school, I never committed these fantasies to the page, much less shared those fantasies with my friends. Even by the last chapter, I was never rooting for any of the characters.  

I rarely write negative reviews of books because truly I am in awe of the talent and stamina it takes to create a story, pour your heart into writing it, and then seek publication. Truly, I am in desperate and eternal admiration. And I am hesitant to write anything too negative about We Made it All Up. When I began completing not finishing the book, I did what I always do: I turned to Good Reads. The reviews on Good Reads are truly impressive, with high praise and recurrent five-star ratings. So, this leads me to believe that my dislike for this book isn’t the book’s problem, and certainly not the author’s issue: it’s fully on me. As I navigate the world of being in my 30’s little of the content rings true for me. In fact, throughout We Made it All Up, I found myself rooting for Celeste’s dad, a scholar and researcher studying bats. Yes, I became that person.

Without revealing too much of the books’ plot, that is my review. Should you read this? It depends! Are you a jaded 30-year-old? Maybe not! But, if I was 15 years old again, suffering through high school drivel and social anxiety, maybe I would have devoured this book in two days. Who knows! What I do briefly want to share, before this review wraps up is that this book contains some serious trigger warnings

This book deals with themes of:

Sexual assault on minors
Child pornography
Incest
Stalking
Self-hatred and self-harm
Was this review helpful?
DNF @32%

Content Warning: Mentions of past Sexual Assault, Talk of Homophobia (no slurs), Stalking, Slut Shaming

Overall this just wasn't for me and I am not sure if it was my mood or if the content just didn't do it for me.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting told-in-two timelines story, with relatable characters and a have-you-guessing twistiness.

The whole idea of Celeste and Vivvy writing fan fiction about two of their classmates, Seth and Joss, was unique.
Was this review helpful?
Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: We Made It All Up

Author: Margot Harrison

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Diversity: m/m romance… kinda?

Recommended For...: young adult readers, thriller, mystery, murder mystery

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Genre: YA Thriller Mystery

Age Relevance: 16+ (romance, cursing, abelism, underage alcohol consumption, sexual content, bullying, death, parental death, child abuse, child sexual abuse, gore, fetishization, homophobia, suicide, sexual assault)

Explanation of Above: There is some romance in the book. There is a lot of cursing and some mentions and showings of underage alcohol consumption. There is some slight abelism mentioned, child abuse mentioned vaguely, child sexual assault mentioned vaguely, slight homophobia, and one mention of suicide. There is a very brief scene of sexual assault mentioned. There is some bullying shown in the book and death and parental death are mentioned. There is some blood gore shown in the book. Finally, there is a LOT of fanfic about these two boys and it leans into fetishization of the characters as them being in a gay relationship with each other but with the MC and another girl constantly wanting them to get together/seeing them as a sexual object/using their stories about them to write about their own personal trauma and personifying it onto them.

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 370

Synopsis: Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s name and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fan fic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While their bond makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.

Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears.

Review: This was an ok but strange book. For the most part I thought the book had an ok plot line and the story would have been great if a few things had changed in my opinion. I liked the creepy atmosphere of the book and I thought that the book did well to show how obsession can lead to some bad things.

However, this book was an absolute train wreck. The book is told in this back and forth style and it gets so confusing so quickly. It would have been better if a few chapters were in the past then one or two in the future, but constantly switching was awful. The book is also really hard to get into, but it’s also really hard to get back into. I left the book for a couple of days and when I came back, I couldn’t figure out what was going on for the life of me. The story didn’t stick with me and even with all of my notes I was completely at a loss as to what was happening and who people were. It’s an easily forgettable book in that regard. The book also made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t like the fetishization culture that was happening in the book and the book didn’t really resolve that issue in my opinion. The way the MC was writing about these two boys and then fetishizing them in public was awful and for it to be unresolved really made me not like the author. There’s a huge problem with fetishization in the book community and I just think that it could have been better done as a cautionary tale.

Verdict: Overall, I didn’t like it. I think that there are some salvageable aspects and this book could be something great, but it was not put together in my arc so I don’t have hope for it in the final version. It’s definitely not for me, but it could be for you!
Was this review helpful?
We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison
🍾🍾🍾🍾/5 Four outta 5 spinning bottles

Oh come on, we all played spin the bottle back in the day.

Right?

This book was a trip and I'm not sure why but I seem to accidentally be picking books with a cave themes lately. This one is no exception. 🤔

A girl from Canada moves to Montana after a "traumatic event." The story starts with partying in the woods and a game of spin the bottle in her new town. Playing with the popular boy and wondering how she got so dang lucky, basically. Oops, popular boy dies and she has no idea what happened.

From there the book flows with a then-and-now storyline. The back and forth is expertly done with tiny bits of new info being fed to us either thru flashbacks or fanfic the characters were writing.

I enjoyed it, honestly. For the first time in a long time I was wrong about the "bad guy."

I think.

The book left me guessing and kinda playing with the conclusion, trying to make pieces fit or complete a web not quite fully woven. I love that! I love being surprised or left thinking.

I did feel like the book had a slow start with me almost making me wanna hit fast forward to get more info. About half thru I didn't wanna put it down, though. 🙃

Recommend this book for thriller/mystery fans.

Triggers: blackouts, alcohol, drugs, assault, death, loss. PTSD, anxiety, self-harm. Sexual assault & homophobia. None overly graphic but could affect some readers.
Was this review helpful?
Review: I was drawn into this book from the very start. I couldn’t wait to read it do learn about Celeste and her attempts to fit in after moving to a new small town. She seems so small, and so sad, and you just know something bad has happened to her. I wanted so badly for Celeste to have someone on her side, soon cheering for her instead of a judging mother and an absent father. As things start to happen, I just wanted to yell to her to be careful, and think about what she was doing. I loved the twists in this book, and didn’t guess the who-done-it until the very end. I will definitely be reading more by Margot Harrison!

Favorite Quotes: “Sometimes where you are is just a step on the way to somewhere else…”
“My feelings tended to make themselves known by wrapping around my neck like pythons, never announcing their names.”
“Joss whistles behind the cedars, and his whistle splits the fabric of the world, fire and trees and sky. It splits me into two people, now and then. Before, I was watching; now I’m part of the story.”
“Grandstanding, eccentric people make it easy to be invisible; they suck up all the attention.”
Was this review helpful?
I was drawn to We Made It All Up as soon as I saw that cover. Then I read that it was a YA thriller  about small town secrets and murder and knew I had to jump on the blog tour. This book explores Celeste as she moves from Canada to a quiet town in Montana and falls in with a girl who is descended from the town's founders. Their bond is threatened by their mutual fascination with the town golden boy, Joss, which leads to a night of drinking and Joss ending up dead. Celeste struggles to piece together her lost memories of that night and begins to wonder if she is actually the killer. 

I enjoyed this book a lot, probably a lot more then I maybe thought I would. YA thrillers can often teeter on the edge of being too unrealistic and overly dramatic but the author manages to perfectly balance that line of teenage drama and murder.    

The plot itself is probably my favourite aspect of the book. I loved this exploration of small town boredom, private traditions and teenage obsession. This book isn't afraid to go to some dark, uncomfortable places which sets it apart from a lot of similar books in YA. It sometimes felt like a plot in an adult thriller but is well adapted for a teen audience. It does contain scenes that allude to sexual abuse and self-harm so something to be aware of. 

I really liked the character of Celeste and her determination to discover her role in the death. Her friendship with Vivvy felt credible, these two outsiders who bonded over a mutual crush and spinning stories. I particularly enjoyed the scenes that conveyed how obsession can grow and mutate. I completely understood how these teenage girls were building up their own image of the popular kids in their heads. Wanting to be part of this circle but this being the only way to fit themselves in. 

This book also contains a sort of fan fiction element where Celeste and Vivvy are writing about their own version of Joss and other people they know. It did make a little uncomfortable at times cause for them they were real people, not fictional and it did feel weird especially with the relationship they were writing about. But again, it plays into how teenage girls are and how fixation can blur the lines of fantasy and reality. 

This was a really well written mystery that had me feeling extremely tense and claustrophobic at times. The alternating timelines helped to build up that tension and keep me guessing about who actually committed the crime. The story is well constructed, with an authentic voice and had me reading on long after I needed to go to bed! Definitely up there with the best YA mysteries of 2022.
Was this review helpful?
keep telling myself to not go for stunning book covers and what do I do well on this occasion it was also the synopsis that got my attention.

The Main Character  Celeste to me was a bit weak to start with but you  soon realise that there are reasons for this.  When Celeste moves to the town of Defile thinking that it was a small town where nothing happens.   She becomes friends with Vivvy  who is the complete opposite or so Celeste thinks.

There is so much I could talk about but since never do spoilers this is not going to happen but what did impress me was the Now and Then timeline  which not only gave the date but how long it had been since that event.    I liked Margot's writing style and would try some more of her books and so I am giving this very interesting book  4 stars
Was this review helpful?
It was difficult for me to get through this book. I really wanted to like it based on its summary, but could not connect with any of the characters and the jumping around back in forth with the timeline. I ended up having to skim read the rest just to finish.
Was this review helpful?
We Made It All Up is a young adult mystery about a young girl named Celeste who has moved to a small town in Montana and finds herself in a new friendship with Vivvy. Together they begin a fanfic about a couple of boys at their school. But when one of the boys is found dead, fingers start to point, rumors are spread, and everyone is looking at Celeste. It has two timelines, now and then, which really brings the story together. Celeste is an interesting character! You can't really tell if she is the one that killed the boy or not but this really adds to the mystery and the suspense! It's a fast paced read with a little bit of a darker side and it's very easy to get caught up in! Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours and Margot Harrison for sharing this book with me!
Was this review helpful?
This book had so much  promise, but was ultimately a big disappointment. Despite having an interesting “then” and “now” narrative schema, there were too many ideas that never blended or were fully fleshed out. One second we are really embarrassed by teenage fanfic, and then we are touring the intrinsic cave system crucial to this  rural community and to the main character’s father’s bat career (which gets mentioned every now and again but it’s never explained?), and then we are horrified about <spoiler> a cult featuring child molestation where no member feels regret about the initiation and there is no consequences at the end?!</spoiler>. It just seemed like these ideas should have been the stars of their own stories and not jammed into one, especially since the murder… <spoiler> literally had nothing to do with anything else that happened in the story except for a very weak love plot. I mean why have the cult at all?? </spoiler>.
	Look, there are so many similar YA thrillers out there now that have a tighter story and deeper characters. I think if there is a teen who will read this genre and only this genre, they will probably pick this up and really enjoy it, but for those who read a variety of stories, I would suggest other YA thrillers over this one. 
	Thank you to NetGalley, Margot Harrison, and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a honesty review!
Was this review helpful?
This is a super weird book, and I mean that in a good way. The character relationships are twisty and complicated, the setting feels just as sinister as it turns out to be. That's really the best word for it: sinister. I thought the mystery was well executed and certainly compelling.

The stories Celeste writes about Joss and Seth were a really interesting plot line to me, especially as the book goes on and the reader discovers why she's so willing to do something that she admits is weird. The idea of using fanfiction (and regular fiction) as a way of understanding trauma is something I see all the time in fan spaces, but I never really thought about it outside of that context. It definitely surprised me to see the author touch on it at one part of the book. 

I also really really loved Celeste as a character, and the journey she goes on. Her insecurities about relationships, her experiences with them, and her fear of never being lovable felt very real. This goes hand in hand with my other favorite part of the book, which was just how messy all the characters were. Not in a shady way, but in a "wow they have no idea what they're doing way", and considering they're all teenagers, this rang incredibly true.

One thing that did surprise me was how dark parts of the book get. Sexual abuse and violence is made a plot point, and while nothing gets incredibly explicit, I definitely wasn't expecting the plot to go in certain directions. It felt shocking because of how realistic it was, rather than because it was unrealistic. It was disturbing because I could imagine what was implied all too well, which I imagine was probably part of the point.

I don't have any gripes with this book. I liked a lot of it, but it didn't blow me away.
Was this review helpful?
Thoughts and Themes: I wanted to read this story from the minute that I read the synopsis and how fan fiction was going to somehow play a role in the story. Fan fiction was such an important part of my life as a teen so I enjoy books that use it to tell a bigger story. The way that fan fiction is used in this book is similar to the purposes in why I used to write before, sometimes fictional words on paper are easier to deal with than the truth.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book was the way that fan fiction was used to reveal things about Celeste’s past. I liked that she was willing to share pieces of herself through her writing but only if she got to be someone else in that story. I liked how this made it seem like it was detached from Celeste but as we get to know her you learn that this is her story that she is finding a way to tell.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Celeste and through her memories of them. You get to meet her friend, Vivvy, Seth, Joss, and more. You also get glimpses into the Seth and Joss that are a part of Vivvy and Celeste’s world through their shared fan fictions.

I really enjoyed getting to know more about each of the characters and that some of these characters we only know through the memories that Celeste has of them. I thought the friendship between Celeste and Vivvy was done quite well even if I wouldn’t say it was a good friendship. I liked how we get to see a side of Vivvy that only Celeste can see because the others have been around her too long now.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of Celeste with bits of the fan fiction written by her included. I liked that everything was told through Celeste’s perspective because she was an unreliable narrator since she didn’t recall much of the night in question. I liked that we were learning things alongside her about the incident but that we were also learning about her.
Was this review helpful?
Moving to a new town seems like a good way to start over. Until the MC is thrown into a small town of secrets, trauma, and lies. How does fanfiction turn into real life? Or is it? I was so invested in Celeste and how her world was warping/distorting around her. With shaky confidence and her mental health not a good place, she second guesses herself left and right, ultimately asking herself if she is capable of murder.
 
While it is a heavy topic, I really thought that Harrison provided Celeste a good outlet in her writing to explore her feelings, especially because they were private thoughts only shared with her friend. And even though I don’t like listening to anything while reading, I LOVE making playlists. Here is one to compliment the book.
 
Spotify Playlist:
 
I’m Just a Kid - Simple Plan
Possession - Sarah McLachlan
Secrets - P!nk
The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get - Morrissey
Jealous - Labrinth
Cool Kids - Echosmith
Tell Me You Love Me - Demi Lovato
Man Down - Rihanna
Teenagers - My Chemical Romance
Mon Histoire - Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg
Was this review helpful?
I have been craving a YA Mystery / Thriller lately and since this one needed to be read I figured why not give it a go! Although there were some cool elements to this plot, I didn’t like it as much as I had wanted to. It covered some pretty dark topics and one in particular, although minor, is one that makes me uncomfortable. What I disliked may not be an issue for others so take this review as you will.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Celeste. Even though there is only one point-of-view the book keeps it interesting by adding a dual timeline. It does help fill in the gaps from the moment something goes wrong until the end where everything starts coming together once again. I am a fan of dual timelines so this was something I liked to see.

Celeste is the new girl in this small town and it’s always hard trying to find friends. Luckily, it doesn’t take long and her life gets interesting from that point on, especially when they start writing fan-fic about two students at their school. This was a unique concept and one that I haven’t seen before. I wouldn’t say that it added anything extra to the mystery plot and could have been a story all on its own.

I wouldn’t say that I liked any of the characters. If I had to pick one it would probably be Seth since he seemed like he had a good head about everything going on. Every one had a meanness to them and were just a bunch of dillweeds. It felt like mean girls but with the dudes acting crazy too.

There are a lot of things going on in the plot that had my attention more than the mystery itself. It didn’t have any thrilling moments and kind of left me just wanting more. It also didn’t help that the ending felt fast and kind of a convenient wrap-up. Not really my thing but at least we got closure.

Talks of sexual assault come up and even feeling loved by a teacher/adult. Even though they don’t go into full details it still made me feel uneasy and are both topics that I like warning beforehand about.

Overall, it was okay. It had interesting concepts but just not enough to sway me to like it.
Was this review helpful?
A unique and exhilarating mystery that asks, "Who killed the town's golden boy?"

"We Made It All Up" was unputdownable! This new YA thriller by Margot Harrison grabbed me from the start with its dual timeline of "Then" and "Now," told in alternating chapters. Harrison's writing style was easy to read, and the action and dialogue felt true to life. I could easily picture the characters and see the plotline's events as they played out as if I were watching them. 

The five main characters – Celeste, Vivvy, Bram, Seth, and Joss – seemed genuine. I was drawn to each of them over the course of the book. Each was vulnerable in their own ways, all having experienced traumatic events in their pasts, and this informed their states of mind and actions in the story. However, the story unfolds from Celeste's point of view, and I found her backstory intriguing and the book's climax harrowing and exciting.

The book's setting is a small town in Montana where everyone knows everyone else and all their business. It is situated near a mountain riddled with an extensive system of caves. I loved that the mountain and caves played such an important role in the plot and they became almost characters themselves in the drama. I really liked the vivid place descriptions that once again put me right there in the story with the characters.

If you don't like figuring out "who done it" too fast, this book is for you; the plot had me guessing to the very end. So often, I thought I knew what had happened up on the mountain, only for the author to twist the story and change my mind. But in the end, the answer is plausible and was looking me in the face the entire time. I found the wrap-up immensely satisfying.

I highly recommend WE MADE IT ALL UP to readers who enjoy YA thrillers and mysteries.
Was this review helpful?
“All things are possible,” Vivvy said. “But you don’t know small towns, Celeste. You don’t understand what the sheer depth of boredom will drive people to.”

Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours for the chance to read and review We made it all up by Margot Harrison.

We Made it All Up is a YA thriller that was published by Little, Brown and Company on the 12th of July, 2022. It’s 343 pages long and already in the top 100 in two different Teen and YA fiction categories on amazon.

As Celeste moves to a small town in the US from Canada, she tries to just blend in. That’s really hard when no one new seems to have moved there for a hundred years (a girl is cheating on her boyfriend with her cousin of all things). She makes a friend in Vivvy, and the two of them write a fan fiction of two dudes in their grade, who seem to hate each other. As Celeste learns more about small town secrets and Joss ends up dead, she has to find out what’s really been going on or she might be in jail next.

As a whole, We Made it all Up is a good addition to the YA thriller/mystery genre. The way Celeste took the characters (in her story), Joss and Seth and spoke about her own trauma through those was really interesting. I loved Vivvy; she was my favourite. I totally called who the killer was 20% in. I felt so annoyed at Celeste’s parents, and in general, most adults in the town for just turning a blind eye to things for so long. The book was a little slow at the start, but when it picked up, it picked up. 

I do wonder though, if had the genders of all the characters been changed, would the story have gone down as well? Two girls writing fanfiction about their male classmates is less sinister than two boys writing it about their female classmates.
Was this review helpful?
We Made It All Up tells a story in several parts: Present, Past, and through a story that Celeste and Vivvy alternated writing about a guy from school, Joss, who has been found dead. I really enjoyed the mystery part of the story, and Celeste's backstory. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing bits, but we'll get to all that.

Celeste is new in town, and she's not having a particularly great time making friends. She ends up becoming friends with Vivvy, and they begin writing a... well, I guess it is referred to as a "fanfic" but can it actually be a fanfic if it is about real people in their school? I mean ,to each their own I guess, but it seems a little squicky that they are writing romances about a real human being who they see every day? Honestly, it weirded me out a little, and I don't think I fully understood the motivation behind it. Why not write actual fanfic about something else you could both enjoy? I digress. I just didn't love those chapters, personally.

But I did enjoy the actual mystery/story, both past and present! I was eager to learn what secrets Celeste was keeping, and also, what the heck (or who the heck) happened to Joss. Obviously I can't get too into that part, for spoiler reasons, but Celeste has no idea what might have happened to Joss, even though she does know that she must be one of the last people to see him alive. Also, this Montana town is... well, there's more to the whole town than meets the eye, which of course will be a problem for Celeste, because who can she trust? Can she even trust herself, since she has no recollection of the events? Makes for quite an interesting mystery, and one I was eager to find out about.

Bottom Line: While I didn't fully love the "fanfic", the mystery parts of the story were definitely on point and worth the read!
Was this review helpful?
This was the perfect kind of abstract bizarre that I love.

Celeste has just moved to Montana from Canada and immediately makes friends with Vivvy. Their friendship is fast and strong, bonding over these stories they write together; this sort of fanfiction about people in the town.

Over the course of a couple of months, we get a back and forth timeline, starting with present day when golden boy, Joss is found dead… where he, Celeste, Vivvy and another boy were all hanging out the night before. Though Celeste cannot remember what happened and struggles to piece together the events of the night. And we get a view into the two and a half months from her arriving to current day, never knowing what to think.

This was a story filled with a bunch of teenagers who all had their own demons haunting them. There is such a push and pull of who, what, when, where and why that kept me completely on edge. This book had a unique way of telling you the story while not giving you all the pieces at once, allowing you time to let them settle in such a pace that is simply so satisfying.
Was this review helpful?