They'll Never Catch Us

Featured
They'll Never Catch Us
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
July 27, 2021
ISBN
978-0593114322
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From rising star Jessica Goodman, author of They Wish They Were Us, comes a new fast-paced thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team—until a teammate’s disappearance throws their lives off course. Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and she keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life and she won't let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course. The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers' lives are upended when Mila comes to town. At first, Ellie and Stella view the new star athlete as a threat. But soon Ellie can't help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie's been looking for a friend to share her secrets. Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong--she's someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she'd never be: distracted. With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won't let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

Editor review

1 review
intriguing YA thriller
(Updated: August 14, 2021)
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
THEY'LL NEVER CATCH US is an intriguing YA thriller that follows 2 sisters, Ellie and Stella. They need scholarships to attend college, and both are talented cross-country runners, but scholarships are hard to come by. Stella seemed to have it in the bag until an incident the year before had her labeled violent and unpredictable. Stella loves to run and keeps her emotions close, which does not help with making friends. When the new girl, Mila, arrives, Stella can't help but see her as competition, though they do make a grudging connection.

Ellie is lost in her own drama, in love with a guy who is in a serious relationship with and cheating on the cross-country team co-captain, Tamara. She also knows that this is her chance to make a name for herself with recruiters if she can keep her personal drama out of mind. Living in her sister's shadow has never been harder since the incident Stella had last year and her own secret she has been holding since the summer. When Mila arrives, she cannot help but like her and share her secret.

When Mila disappears, everyone seems to want to point fingers at the sisters. But what really happened to Mila? Whose secrets will need to come out to find answers?

What I loved: This was a dark and character-driven read that really takes a deep dive into Ellie and Stella's personalities and the the events that have brought them to where they are. Answers are slow to come, both about what happened last year with Stella and what happened over the summer with Ellie. The disappearance of Mila felt like a smaller element compared to the other pre-existing secrets, though it does pick-up and we are left wondering who all knows what happened to her.

There are some really intense and thought-provoking themes in the book around alcohol/drug abuse, emotional abuse/gaslighting, cheating, sexism, sisterhood, abuse/bullying in athletics, and biased policing.

What left me wanting more: The pace felt pretty slow in places, and some secrets were held onto longer than it seemed to warrant. I think I would have liked to hear about them earlier and focus more on Mila's disappearance. I also I think I needed some more hints earlier to fully buy into the ending that felt a bit like a sudden twist just because it was expected to have a twist. I guess some hints were there, but the character seemed to suddenly morph in a way that seemed odd to me.

Final verdict: With a creepy atmosphere and thought-provoking themes, THEY'LL NEVER CATCH US is a dark YA thriller about sisters, girlhood, and ambition for something better. Recommend for fans of THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, BRIGHT BURNING STARS, and ONE OF US IS LYING.
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