How We Fall Apart | ARC Review

How We Fall Apart (#1) | Katie Zhao

Published: August 17 2021

Format: E-Book (ARC)

Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Murder-Mystery, Asian-South Asian Representation, #ownvoices

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

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.

Keywords to describe this book: Plot-Driven, Contemporary, Simple

TW: Suicide, Depression, Abuse, Violence

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bloomsbury YA through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

~My Thoughts~

This is a very straightforward teen mystery in a prep school setting. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the diversity. I loved the Asian representation, particularly since most books that I’ve read in this genre are generally not diverse at all. I also really liked the use of technology within the book, which I think most teen readers will relate to. That being said, it could end up dating this book as time goes on.

I do wish the writing had been a bit stronger. I think it was a very simplistic style and there was a lot more telling than showing. The story was also a bit clunky. The plot is the driving force of this book and not much else happens outside of it, so it feels more like a series of events and the reader is being pulled jerkily along to each one. For being a murder-mystery story, there’s not really much investigating going on. It’s more just a story of a group of kids who want to figure out who is targeting them and them standing by and watching as each thing happens to them. They try two things, but otherwise don’t really do anything. There’s really not much action on part of the main characters. They all end up being very passive, so there wasn’t a whole lot of intrigue or fun from trying to solve the crime. It also made it impossible to guess who the culprit is, which will probably disappoint some. I chalk this up to this book being a debut and the author seemed more focused on internal dialogue than the crime solving aspect of the story.

Otherwise, I think this book is enjoyable enough to read and teens will probably like it. It did not stand out to me. I wanted to like it more, but it seems very similar to other books I’ve read in this genre, with the bonus that at least it’s diverse.

Read Alikes:

| My Rating |

Ok, But Not My Cup of Tea

I wanted to like the book more, but it was just too simplistic for me and the plot was forgettable and too much like other books in this genre. The best thing about this book is the diversity, and for that I’m glad this book exists, because honestly YA needs more diverse authors. I would only recommend this book to teens who want to read more diverse mysteries. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I will read the next book in this series.

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