Saturday, December 26, 2020

Book Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Title: The Cousins
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Print Length: 330 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Whenever Karen McManus releases a book, I feel obligated to read it since I loved her first book, One of Us Is Lying. I also read the sequel, Two Can Keep a Secret. When The Cousins was released, it was one of those books that I had to read. While it wasn't as good of a read as her first two books, it was still a decent book.

Mildred Story cut ties with all of her children twenty-four years prior. All of her children swear they have no idea what they did to be cut off. However, when Mildred's grandchild receive a letter from Mildred inviting them to stay and work on her island, her grandchildren are a little suspicious but end up going. However, when they decide to try to figure out the mystery, things take a dangerous turn.

The plot really reeled me in. I love a good mystery, so The Cousins was right up my alley. While the story did flow together really well, I felt that the pacing was a bit on the slow side. It wasn't painfully slow, but it made it where The Cousins wasn't one of those books where you can't put it down. I guess I was just hoping for more action. There were a few plot twists which were a bit unpredictable which was enjoyable. The setting and world building were done nicely. It was easy to feel like I was on the island with everything that was going on. I enjoyed the flashbacks from Mildred's children - Adam, Anders, Archer, and Allison. I felt like there were no cliff hangers and that all my questions were answered by the end of the book. I suppose McManus could make a sequel from this book, but I think that this book would be better left as a standalone. 

The characters in The Cousins were written decently enough although I never really cared too much for any one character. I just had a hard time relating to any of the characters, so it was hard to really care for them. Milly came across as being too standoffish and stuck up a lot of the time. While I liked that she wasn't afraid to speak her mind, sometimes I felt like she went a bit overboard. Jonah was an alright character, but I felt like he lacked enough depth to really like him. I just felt like there was something missing with his backstory. Aubrey was an okay character too, but I felt like she wasn't much of a main character. I would have liked to see more of Aubrey because I felt like she didn't really add anything to the story and that her character was kind of pointless. Aubrey's character felt more like a filler in the book. I would have also liked to see more scenes with Mildred as she isn't in many. Knowing the whole story, I can see why she wasn't as present, but it would have been nice to at least have her in the book a bit more.

Trigger warnings for The Cousins include swearing, murder, death, minor violence, drinking (including underage), miscarriage, and teenage pregnancy. 

Overall, The Cousins does have an interesting plot despite the execution. The world building is done fantastically, and the plot twists are plentiful. I would recommend The Cousins by Karen M. McManus to those aged 15+ that like mysteries.

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