Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2991
captivating YA psychological thriller
Overall rating
Writing Style
THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an engaging YA thriller reminiscent of GOSSIP GIRLS. The book follows Jill, who had lost her BFF Shaila when they were freshman years ago. Shaila was murdered by her boyfriend, Graham. Jill is a Player, an elite group of students with brutal initiation practices at a wealthy private school.

Jill is now a senior and on top of the food chain. She has never forgotten Shaila, and when someone from her past contacts her to say that Graham didn't kill Shaila, the question becomes who did. While most of the book is about the Players, this mystery underlies the plot to add some suspense.

What I loved: This is a highly captivating read. The main theme of the book seems to be about hazing, why it is done, continued by those it hurts, and the power plays it serves. This was really thought-provoking and its persistence is interesting to examine, especially with regards to the roles people play in it and why they go along with it. There is also some interesting subtext about privilege.

The mystery of what really happened to Shaila keeps the book moving quickly. While I had a bunch of guesses (and one was correct), I appreciated that the answer was not obvious and it needs to be played out.

What left me wanting more: As a relatively small point, the beginning of the plot is somewhat hard to follow, as we switch between time and information comes slowly. This does speed up pretty fast though. There were also a lot of characters that can be a bit hard to follow at first.

Final verdict: Overall, THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an intriguing and captivating YA psychological thriller that not only seeks to solve a murder but also tackles hazing and privilege.
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