Good morning! How is everyone doing? I hope you are still managing OK with this lockdown if you’re in the UK, and with whatever situation you’re dealing with if you’re somewhere else in the world. I’m back this week with my first YA review of 2021. The Cousins by Karen McManus if you don’t recognise the name you might be familiar with some of her other books, including One Of Us Is Lying.
Title: The Cousins
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: 3rd December 2020
About The Book…
The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:
You know what you did.
They never hear from her again.
Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.
This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.
I picked up The Cousins with mixed expectations. I have really enjoyed two of Karen’s books; One Of Us Is Lying and One Of Us Is Next but I didn’t enjoy Two Can Keep A Secret in the same way. I wasn’t really sure where on the scale The Cousins would fit. It did have an intriguing blurb though, so I had reasonably high hopes.
As per Karen’s usual style The Cousins is told from multiple points of view. In this case we have three points of view in the present day, Milly, Aubrey and Jonah, the cousins of the title; we also have one point of view from the past as we catch up with an 18-year-old Allison, the sole daughter of the original Story siblings.
Generally speaking, I really quite enjoy reading books from multiple points of view. I think when done well you tend to get a more rounded idea of what is happening within the story as you get to see different character’s interpretation of events. I think you also get a better opportunity to get to know the characters better as you get to spend some time seeing things from each of their perspectives. The Cousins is no different in that regard, I do feel like I got to know Milly, Aubrey and Jonah pretty well, along with an 18-year-old Allison.
There are a lot of characters to get to grips with in The Cousins. With the three cousins in the present day along with the four original Story siblings. I think to a certain extent trying to get to grips with seven fairly important characters, the four whose points of view we see the story through and the three other Story siblings, is one of the downfalls of The Cousins for me. I felt that because there were so many characters to get to grips with the plot was a little bit slow to get started. A lot of time at the beginning of the book was spent introducing the characters and getting the readers to become familiar with them. Once we started to really get more into the mystery part of the plot, and Karen started weaving in little hints and suggestions, along with various revelations in the plot I think the book definitely improved. It just took a little longer than I would have liked to get to it.
I’m finding The Cousins quite a difficult book to review any further, I can’t speak much more about the plot without risking spoilers and I can’t talk that much about the characters without potentially giving some things away. If I talk about the ‘safe’ characters and avoid mentioning others then that will probably end up being as much of a giveaway as to who certain things happen to as if I just came out and told you, so I think I’m better off just not really mentioning any of them in detail.
Of the four original Story siblings there are definitely certain siblings that are less likable than others, although I think a lot of them suffer from growing up in an extremely privileged background, and not really choosing to understand how the world works for those who are not part of the elite, looking down on the ‘townies’ who live on the island. Not something I’m familiar with, but something that I am sure is a perfectly realistic representation of some, although not everybody, who grows up in an extremely wealthy family.
I will concede that as the book moved towards its climax the pacing and the plot did pick up, along with my general feelings about the book. There were a few revelations that I found really quite interesting. Naturally, I won’t go into details to avoid spoiling it for any of you who do you want to pick up the book but I’m not overly sure how I feel about the ending as a whole. I can’t really go into any detail about why I feel the way I do about it without potentially ruining the book for people; so, I will say if you have read it and you do want to talk about the ending my DMs on Twitter are open so feel free to drop me a message and we can chat some more.
The main thing that I enjoyed and really stuck out for me about Two Can Keep A Secret was the final line in the book. I had to close the book, reopen it and check that I had read what I thought I had read. The Cousins has a similar ending, something that left me with a few questions. The plot remains a little open, perhaps not open enough for Karen to add on a full-length sequel but enough to just keep me wondering about exactly what it means.
I really wanted to be able to finish this book and come out with an amazing review telling you how I absolutely loved it, but I just didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think it was a bad book, and I did enjoy it once it got going but I didn’t love it. For me it just took too long to get going and while the pacing picked up, and the plot became more interesting as the book moved on it never quite grabbed me in the same was that One Of Us Is Lying and One Of Us Is Next did. I’m not entirely sure if it is down to the pacing, or the fact I really did love the characters in the Bayview books and didn’t quite connect with the cousins in quite the same way. That said I did enjoy it more than I enjoyed Two Can Keep A Secret and once again Karen has proved that she is the master of a last line that surprises you. I will still be keeping my eye out for Karen’s next book.
About The Author…
Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, One of Us Is Next, andThe Cousins. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels.
Connect With Karen
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?