Earlier this year I did a Will I Like This Book post on This Book Kills. It was a book that I was curious about, though I wasn’t hugely excited. But when I saw it available to review on NetGalley… Well, I just had to, didn’t I? I knew I wanted to read it for certain, and I wanted to see whether I was right about my opinions.
Jess Choudhary is a scholarship student at a well-esteemed boarding school and is under strict rules to behave herself. Jess always has, but one day when Hugh Henry Van Boren winds up dead, she receives a text message thanking her for the inspiration for how he was murdered. Jess knows she didn’t do it, but she also knows that if she wants to live, she needs to solve this mystery herself.
I said in my sample review that this book started before the murder. And it did, but fortunately, it didn’t take too long for the murder to happen. The story builds up a narrative of who Hugh was and why he might have wound up dead. But the actual reason isn’t revealed in this section. I understand why this was done, and it introduces the characters and story pretty well.
The writing was very much something that I enjoyed. The style is quite chatty, and the reason is that this book is supposed to be Jess writing down the events of what happened. There was one specific paragraph that I can think of where that really shined. But a lot of the time, I did forget that this story was being told that way. Still, I found this book super easy to read when I did pick it up.
But that’s where the problems begin. I didn’t really want to pick this book up during the first half.
The stakes in this book felt so low. Jess was receiving death threats, and yet it didn’t feel like she was really at risk. At least, not during the first half. The reasons for that are explained by who the killer is later on, but that was still a major issue. Thrillers are supposed to be exciting page-turners. They’re supposed to be heavy on intrigue. But it just felt like nothing was happening.
Around halfway through, the book did get better. I found myself wanting to carry on. There was also a pause in the proof, just before the killer was revealed, where you’re encouraged to guess who the killer was. That was a pretty fun addition, and I liked that Usborne did that. You could even get the opportunity to win some swag with your guess if you wish. I got it right, as it was obvious by that point. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There were some good red herrings throughout and some side mysteries. But honestly? I was very meh over who the killer turned out to be.
So, this book was very much a mixed bag. I didn’t mind it, and, okay, this was a debut, so it didn’t need to be perfect. It’s nice to come across some new UKYA. and I definitely need to be reading more of it. So I will be picking up whatever Ravena Guron comes up with yet. But I don’t think I’ll be quite as excited.
Title: This Book Kills
Author: Ravena Guron
Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: 5/1/23