A Quick Look At… This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

Who it’s by: YA author Chelsea Pitcher

What it is: a YA mystery/thriller in the vein of One of Us Is Lying

What it’s about: one year after a boy died in an inferno at a party, five students connected to his death are invited to participate in a murder mystery evening to win a $50,000 scholarship. Gothic torment awaits.

The players: five students. Columbia-bound ex-valedictorian Juniper, stage-loving Ruby, golden boy Parker, school bully Brett, and outcast photographer Gavin.

The victim: a new student in town who didn’t respect the high school’s social hierarchy

Best bits: atmospheric, quick and easy to read

Read if: you’re looking for a light, quick mystery with some mild horror

Avoid if: you don’t want to have figured out the culprit by page 5

I read This Lie Will Kill You all in one day, and that’s both a compliment and a problem. On the one hand, I kept reading until I finished. On the other, I did that because the story felt so light that I kind of just wanted to get it over with.

This Lie Will Kill You is clearly heavily influenced by the incredible success One Of Us Is Lying, and by one of my favorite shows, Veronica Mars. Like One of Us Is Lying, we have a cast of perspective characters who fit into different Breakfast Club-style labels, and who all have secrets that some murderous villain is working to reveal. Veronica Mars feels influential in the use of flashback, and the fact that, honestly, this book felt like it would have been better as a TV show or a movie.

Like Veronica Mars, This Lie Will Kill You interchanges between the present day narrative and flashbacks. Everyone has secrets, and whoever is orchestrating this horror night is determined to get them to admit them. But although the story is full of plot twists, it doesn’t really give the twists time to have any impact. You learn something about a character — some question they have, some mystery that bugs them — find out the answer, and THEN learn the twist and the REAL answer, all within the same chapter. It’s hard to feel emotionally invested in plot’s answers when you didn’t even know the question until the page before.

The book is also let down by the fact that the dead student, the reason for all of this, doesn’t really feel like a real person. I’ve seen him described as “Edward Cullen-esque,” and that pretty much sums it up. He’s the beautiful, mysterious, romantic stranger who appears out of nowhere and instantly falls for one of the characters and seems to offer the solution to all her life’s problems until he is suddenly murdered. He’s almost ethereal, but while Veronica Mars puts its flashbacks about murder victim Lily Kane in a muted, ethereal light, Lily herself is larger than life, vibrant, but revealed to be somewhere between “flawed” and “a terrible person” as the investigation continues. Our murder victim here doesn’t have flaws, or interests, or hobbies, or… much of anything really. And since it’s hard for us to care about his death, it’s hard to care about whichever character is willing to orchestrate all this in revenge.

The other problem is that the true culprit is obvious from literally the first few pages. The book starts with a beautifully written prologue on the night of the fire, but although it tries to be vague, it provides enough information that I knew who was behind everything after reading about three lines from their perspective.

The plot itself is somewhat convoluted, and the answers don’t really live up to the atmosphere it creates. That said, there are some elements about the ending that I really liked, and the book is certainly dramatic and Gothic and creepy as all hell, which is fun to read. If you’re after a YA mystery that grips and satisfies like One Of Us Is Lying, then this book isn’t really the one to go for, but as a book to pull you through a plane ride or to binge on the beach, this could be a fun choice.

What do you think?

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