How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao #bookreview #mystery #thriller

Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. 

One of the comp titles for this novel is One of Us Is Lying, a book I enjoyed from beginning to end, so I went into this with some high expectations.

The competition to be the best at Sinclair Prep is cutthroat. These teens put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves and each other, while some of their parents demand the best no matter the cost. Stress levels are through the roof. Most of the student body look up to these five students, so when Jamie turns up dead and the mysterious Proctor begins making accusations and threatening to reveal dark secrets about the other four, their reputations are tarnished to say the least.

This is a short, quick read that I finished in less than twenty-four hours. It moves along at a brisk pace, and the developments come pretty fast. These characters are supposed to be best friends, especially Nancy and Jamie, but I sure wasn’t feeling the love between most of them. I even wondered how and why they became friends considering the way they treat each other. Of the five of them, Nancy and Jamie are especially unlikeable, but I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended. I can’t imagine many readers would feel sympathetic toward them for most of the book. I figured out the identity of the Proctor – kind of (no spoilers) – but the reveal requires quite a big suspension of disbelief. Looking at other reviews, several have mentioned that fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girls would be the intended audience for this book, but I haven’t seen either of those shows. Maybe that’s why It didn’t work for me as much as I’d hoped, but I’m glad I read How We Fall Apart and will look for future novels by this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

23 thoughts on “How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao #bookreview #mystery #thriller

  1. I probably would like this one as a quick break between slower reads since I enjoyed the shows it’s been compared to. I think expectations in this case are pretty important ❤️. Wonderful honest review!

    Liked by 1 person

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