The Book: Two Can Keep A Secret
Author: Karen McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre & Themes: YA thriller/mystery, contemporary
This was an interesting book for me. Like many others, I absolutely loved Karen’s first book One Of Us Is Lying. It was very character driven, and the plot kept me completely hooked. However, in Two Can Keep A Secret, the premise was really interesting, but I think the characters let it down slightly. But we’ll get to that.
The book follows Ellery and her twin Ezra as they move to the town of Echo Ridge. This was their mother’s hometown and the place where their aunt went missing 17 years ago. It has most recently been put on the map by a homecoming queen who was killed. The town and the people in it are hiding secrets, and the twins happen to move there just when suspicious activities start happening again.
Sooo… the premise is intriguing right? I was fully ready to dive straight in, but the pacing was all over the place. The beginning was super slow, and I almost put it down to read something else. A lot is thrown at the reader and it was kind of hard to keep up at first.
Near the beginning, the characters discover a dead body from a hit and run. Pretty freaking noteworthy right??? But as soon as it’s discovered, the chapter ends, and the next chapter starts the following day. All the tension about what was going to happen just … never came. Lots of things were happening in the plot, but it didn’t really feel like it.
After speaking to a few friends on Instagram, I was convinced to persevere. I’m glad I did, as the pace really picks up about half way and then I flew through the second half of the novel (which I really enjoyed and will talk more about later!)
I also didn’t think the characters were overly strong. I grew to like the main ones over the course of the novel, but not notably (definitely not as much as I loved the characters in her first novel). It’s dual narrated and, for me at least, the voices weren’t distinct enough. I found myself constantly forgetting whose chapter I was reading; this is always a telling sign. If I have to work out who is speaking by what they’re talking about, the tone of voice isn’t strong enough. Also, there were just a lot of side characters that all blurred into one. Even by the end, I never quite managed to grasp where they all fit into the story.
Last negative point – I didn’t care much about the romance plot line. It definitely felt like it could have been entirely dropped and I wouldn’t have noticed. It makes me want to shout that romance isn’t ALWAYS necessary. Sometimes, there’s romantic tension between characters and it really fits, and other times, it feels like it’s shoe-horned it. For me, this unfortunately felt like the latter.
Okay and breathe. So this makes me sound like I hated it! I didn’t. As soon as the story picked up, I was really into it. I enjoyed that there were a few casually queer characters and I would have loved to hear from them a bit more. Also, for the second half of the book, I really enjoyed the plot. I was constantly on my toes trying to work out what was happening, and guess whodunnit. I didn’t guess the ending or any of the plot twists (maybe because I don’t read a lot of mystery/thriller, but I really enjoyed the actual plot).
All in all, I’m conflicted. I really enjoyed the second half, but getting there involved struggling through the first half. I think I will still pick up Karen McManus’ next book though, as I hope the magic I felt when I read her first book is still there.
What have you been reading lately? Are you loving your current read, or is it falling a bit short?