I am so excited about kicking off the tour for The Cheerleaders, Kara Thomas’s latest mystery-psychological thriller! I read and loved both of Kara Thomas’s previous novels (read my Little Monsters review) last summer and have been highly anticipating her next one ever since. Since this is a mystery, I’m intentional vague about certain parts in this review so as to not spoil the reveals.
The Cheerleaders follows Monica, younger sister to one of the infamous dead cheerleaders, as she enters her Junior year and comes across secrets her step father has been hiding about the tragic deaths of the five cheerleaders—and if they all connect. As she dives deeper into mystery, she befriends Ginny, fellow dance teammate who might be hiding her own secrets, and works with her as they unravel what really happened five years ago.
There are so many things that I love about Kara Thomas’s novels, and The Cheerleaders does not disappoint. There’s complicated family and friend dynamics, little-to-no romance, a slow mystery that unravels a little bit clue by clue but that isn’t given away too soon, and an unlikable protagonist that feels like a real person. In her previous novels, the family and friend dynamics are pretty messy, so I was expecting the worse from her parents. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that both her mom and step-dad loved and cared for her (though there are still complicated parts to their relationships). I enjoyed seeing not only Monica’s dynamics with her friends, but also Jennifer’s in her few chapters. Monica befriends Ginny, who helps her with her grief and the mystery without judgment. While Monica does drift from her best friends, they stick by her side at the end after the final reveal.
One of my favorite things about Little Monsters was that there were journals entries from the missing girl that showed her spiraling into a darker state of mind. I loved that Kara Thomas continues this trend in The Cheerleaders by occasionally dropping in a POV chapter from Monica’s sister right in the middle of the murders and leading up to her own death. The timing of these chapters were perfect as they happened after Monica found a revealing clue and I loved seeing how it had actually unfolded in Jennifer’s life as Monica speculated about what had happened.
Overall, Little Monsters helped me get out of a month-long book slump with it’s page-turning, twisty mystery. I can’t wait to see what Kara Thomas writes next!
*TW for suicide (not on page), abortion, and statutory rape*
*This ARC was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.*
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