Family first – always. Right?
Welcome to another exciting blog tour, and not just any blog tour – an ultimate blog tour, organised by the fabulous Write Reads, looking at Karen M. McManus’s latest young adult thriller, The Cousins. Now it’s no secret I love a thriller, and I love Karen M. McManus. I’ve reviewed two of her previous books, One Of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep A Secret (and I really must review One Of Us Is Next at some point!) with enthusiasm, and so I couldn’t wait to read The Cousins from the moment it was announced.
I’m excited to be early on in this tour because a) it makes me feel quite special, but mostly b) there is no way I could contain myself until the end of the tour. Although I somehow got missed off the list for a physical copy for the book, as soon as it was on my Kindle, I was bouncing around like a kitten on catnip.
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.
Have you seen that bit in The Office US where Michael Scott shouts “I love it!” and then follows it up with “I LOVE IT MORE!”? That’s how I felt about this book. Each and every twist was like ramping it up, winding me closer in to the Story’s, and I was completely obsessed with how it was developing.
I’ve always admired Karen M. McManus’s ability to tell a story full of twists and turns, and The Cousins might be her most twisty turny yet. There really were surprises right up to the very last page with this book, and when I stayed up to finish it at 1am because I couldn’t put it down after a certain point, I wanted to wake up my husband and force him to discuss it with me. Thank goodness for the book blogger group chat where I could talk about it freely!
The idea of “family first” is a problematic one that is slowly becoming more challenged by society, so to see this potentially toxic issue represented in a young adult book is something that I think draws brilliant attention to the fact that you might be related to someone – but ultimately you owe them nothing. Coupled with the flip side of adult children being disinherited with a simple note – “You know what you did” – and wanting to get back onto speaking terms with their mother, all for their own reasons… The backdrop to this novel is complex and utterly realistic, along with being slightly bizarre, which I loved.
The story is told from the perspectives of the three cousins, as well as flashbacks to one of the Story children as a teenager, which gives an extra layer of input to the story, helping pieces connect along the way, but still keeping the reader in the dark enough that each of those twists and turns is still a shock as they come along.
Compared to her other novels, this book could be seen as a bit of a slow burner, but I think it’s more that you realise the high impact levels the further along you read, and the ability to write a novel that makes you think and feel like that, particularly in the young adult genre where mysteries and thrillers are still a growing genre, is something I’m very pleased to be able to say I’m witnessing as a reader. I actually think it might be my favourite of her books, and I didn’t think it would be possible to dislodge One Of Us Is Lying from that spot. The characters, their backstories, their development, and the well thought out plot… Just the perfect Story.
Thank you to The Write Reads for sorting out such an epic tour as always, and to Penguin for my e-book of The Cousins. You can keep up with other others posting by following #TheCousins on Twitter.