People Like Us

People Like Us

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she's reinvented herself entirely. Now she's a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl's body is found in the lake, Kay's carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-co...

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Title:People Like Us
Author:Dana Mele
Rating:

People Like Us Reviews

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    Okay, I knew. I knew going into this that I was going to enjoy it. But I was not actually really expecting this to be one of my favorite YA suspense novels of all time. But I swear to god Dana Mele could have been looking into my brain’s idea of a perfect YA thriller and STILL would have nailed it. ya girl just read and adored an arc of the

    and is

    living life to the fullest.

    is a thriller driven first and foremost by

    Okay, I knew. I knew going into this that I was going to enjoy it. But I was not actually really expecting this to be one of my favorite YA suspense novels of all time. But I swear to god Dana Mele could have been looking into my brain’s idea of a perfect YA thriller and STILL would have nailed it. ya girl just read and adored an arc of the

    and is

    living life to the fullest.

    is a thriller driven first and foremost by

    Most of which are either vaguely twisted and/or vaguely gay. It’s almost a love triangle, but it’s also… not. It’s more like a twisted web of character dynamics that just got me more and more enthralled. It’s a book where everyone is holding secrets, everyone has something up their sleeve. And thankfully,

    While the characters felt occasionally hard to keep track of at the beginning of the book, it’s hard to overstate how much the character focus helped my reading experience –

    And even better, literally no character in this book feels totally flat; even very minor side characters are given sympathetic moments that they wouldn’t get in any other book. I’ve seen several reviews criticizing the fact that all of these characters are pretty awful people, and... well, they’re not wrong. But for me,

    Something I definitely noticed was just how well Kay’s narration fit her characterization. Kay’s voice is very engaged with the situation, yet she is strangely cold and undramatic in her telling. No moment was given more drama than it warranted, creating a situation in which the audience simply must process the sheer gravity of what is occurring. And it completely fits Kay’s personality - I don’t even know how to explain it, but her narration fit

    so perfectly. I got so attached to her by the end.

    Something I

    liked about this is that it’s essentially set in a world where being sapphic is totally normalized - there’s not even any angst over unrequited crush on a straight best friend. I’m sure someone will be upset by the lack of labels, but for me the book felt like a breath of fresh air. I loved that Kay’s crush on Bri isn’t the main plot point, but is still a major factor. Even that love-triangle-with-boy-and-girl thing couldn’t bother me in the totally normative space of this book - it is written so perfectly and not at

    as a sexuality crisis. No character is bothered by Kay or Bri or any other character being sapphic. This is everything I’ve ever wanted: a queer girl thriller where the drama isn’t that they’re queer. Come on, you have to admit that’s awesome. You

    to.

    Something that struck me a lot about this book is that there’s no red herring;

    And while the reveal isn’t actually the

    shocking thing I’ve read in my whole life, it still surprised me. Which is a really hard to do after a long life reading thrillers, but just to reiterate: this really was not your typical YA thriller on a lot of levels. And even if it had been,

    I didn’t guess the who, either - couldn’t pin my guess down - but I

    did not guess the why.

    I’ve been thinking about why the reveal stayed with me so well, and I think it’s because

    I knew one had to be. Of course. But I felt genuinely attached to these awful, terrible characters. That’s another thing sticking with me as I finish this book –

    could have survived off its reveal alone or its characters alone, but Dana Mele chose to go further, to pull off both.

    Very minor spoiler, but tagged anyway:

    . And major TWs:

    .

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  • Kathryn

    by Dana Mele….oh, what to say about this book that could ever do it justice?! Seriously, words fail me.

    LOVE. IT. Like

    Can my review just end here? No? Well, I guess I should tell you what it’s about….

    There’s my one criticism about this book.

    But here

    by Dana Mele….oh, what to say about this book that could ever do it justice?! Seriously, words fail me.

    LOVE. IT. Like

    Can my review just end here? No? Well, I guess I should tell you what it’s about….

    There’s my one criticism about this book.

    But here you go, the premise as written on the inner flap:

    So

    sounds like a Pretty Little Liars knockoff. It’s not.

    Basically, it’s what Pretty Little Liars *should* have been. A

    The computer-coded scavenger hunt is actually a revenge website set-up by the dead girl to take down Kay’s inner circle. Like a cyber-version of A. Kay is forced to reveal her friend’s most intimate details or her own secret shame will be revealed. To the entire school. Essentially,

    is so much more than a mystery. It’s more than just another Mean Girls redux. It’s a

    is just….

    Dialogue is razor sharp, characters exquisitely crafted, writing on point. But what makes

    so much

    The musings that are so accurate to life, but never verbalized. Because of this, the

    A feat that many books with similarly exclusive surroundings fail to do.

    Characters are further made accessible by their complexity. Stereotypical villains are rendered sympathetic. “Nice” characters aren’t always so nice. Sexuality is fluid. In other words,

    And those characters elevate

    from Pretty Little Liars knock-off to perhaps

    If you haven’t already surmised: READ. THIS. BOOK. But give yourself a good window of time because you won’t want to put it down. Actually you won’t be able to. It’s that compelling.

  • Laura

    This is exactly what I wanted it to be. Different books popped into my mind while reading..among them:

    ,

    ,

    . These have always been my favorite kind of YA books. I can't help it. I live for a thriller. And there is just something about murder mysteries and mean girls that go hand in hand. It just works. Fill them with twists

    This is exactly what I wanted it to be. Different books popped into my mind while reading..among them:

    ,

    ,

    . These have always been my favorite kind of YA books. I can't help it. I live for a thriller. And there is just something about murder mysteries and mean girls that go hand in hand. It just works. Fill them with twists and unlikable characters...I am here for it.

    Kay Donovan reinvented herself when she came to Bates Academy, an all-girls boarding school. She left everything from before behind. No one has to ever know about how she lost her best friend and brother. Kay became the cool, mean girl who everyone wants to be friends with. She's captain of the soccer team and ringleader of her friend group - the type of group that thinks they're funny coming up with witty insults about everyone around them and doesn't think about how anything makes other people feel.

    Well, the story starts with a tradition..skinny dipping in the lake after the Skeleton Dance. Only it doesn't go as it usually does. Kay's best friend Brie jumps in first only to discover a body. If only they knew this was only the beginning...

    The next day, an email shows up in Kay's inbox from the dead girl. It is blackmail. If Kay doesn't complete each item on a list, her secret & proof of her crime will be sent to her parents, the police and every student at Bates. What's interesting is the list just leads to more secrets and lies and puts Kay in a position to hurt her friends.

    And a whole string of secrets and investigating and hookups ensues. Something I really loved is how there wasn't just one mystery to the story. There is who killed Jessica, of course. But also, who is blackmailing Kay? What is the secret Kay has about what she did in the past? & I accumulated a few other mini-mysteries as they were introduced, but mentioning here would be pure spoilers. I enjoyed figuring out all the bits and pieces along the way. I also really liked figuring out the dynamics of Kay's friend group with Tai, Tricia, Maddy, Brie and Cori. There's something about female friendships that can be so twisted and messed up, but still completely fascinating and even relatable. I enjoyed the psychology of it all.

    Oh and did I mention that most characters in the novel appear to be sexually fluid. It's not explicitly discussed with labels, which I am 100% on board for and wish more books would take note. It's normalized and no one is bothered by what gender you're having sex with or want to have sex with. It just is.

    I can't go without mentioning that I was super annoyed for the Game of Thrones spoilers. Thanks. Because I have been saving the show for an epic binge later & I dodge spoilers like a boss. But it's a bit difficult when you put them IN A BOOK that has nothing to do with GOT, by the way.

    There were a couple minor plot-holes in question that weren't actually that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. (Do not click the spoiler tag or you're asking for spoilers. This should be read AFTER finishing the book). I did however want elaboration on

    Even if you figure out some things along the way, it's still a fun, wild ride. I put together the who, but couldn't for the life of me figure out the why leaving me still thinking it could be other people too. Oh, and I really liked that extra final reveal.

    The writing is sharp and beautiful. I actually tried to take my time to appreciate the gorgeous descriptions among the binge-worthy mystery. It's official:

    is on my radar.

    I can already foresee the

    and

    comparisons on top of the YA books I mentioned above, but honestly this hit that sweet spot for me. If you enjoy any of the aforementioned shows or book, or just love a good YA mystery, this isn't one to miss.

  • may ➹

    as someone who is thoroughly afraid but also in awe of thrillers, THIS IS SO GOOD

    like I kind of guessed the murderer? but then I also had other suspects as well? and then add to the boarding school aesthetic + mean girls + character arc + queer girls and this was AMAZING

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at:

    If your reaction to a “Mean Girls” type of story is . . . .

    Then we probably shouldn’t be friends. Just kidding. Maybe. Whatever. At minimum you probably don’t want to read this book. I obviously

    mean girls stories so I wanted this as soon as I saw the title and cover. Oh those private school uniforms. You just

    all the char

    Find all of my reviews at:

    If your reaction to a “Mean Girls” type of story is . . . .

    Then we probably shouldn’t be friends. Just kidding. Maybe. Whatever. At minimum you probably don’t want to read this book. I obviously

    mean girls stories so I wanted this as soon as I saw the title and cover. Oh those private school uniforms. You just

    all the characters are going to be twats!!!!

    The story here is about Kay, or as my brain liked to call her . . . .

    And her fellow In Crowd who happen to discover a dead body in the lake near campus. The slit wrists and floating corpse would make one think it was a case of suicide, but when

    Kay receives an e-mail threatening to out her sins of the past unless she follows the instructions contained in a website link, things get a little grey and

    might be a suspect.

    At some point this was popping up for me (even though I already had the sucka on hold at the library) as a “Recommended To You” selection because I enjoyed

    . Much to my surprise, that comparison isn’t half bad, actually. I really did have a fun time with both books.

    due to

    similarities and

    for the

    aforementioned

    . I’m telling you, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of these little bitches. Especially the rich ones. Oh how they go from this . . . .

    To this . . . .

    In a nanosecond.

    Once again I did know what was going on way early:

    Even the old superbadawful stuff that was going to come back to life wasn’t a shocker . . . .

    That one ended up being not

    as bad as

    I thought it would be since this was a YA story.

    The good news was it didn’t even matter because I was having such a good time . . . .

    4 Stars. Until next time . . . .

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  • Carol (Bookaria)

    Ever since I read

    , I’ve been looking for another YA suspenseful read and this one fit the bill.

    Going in I figured out the culprit but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit, I really had a good time with this book. The characters are compelling and complex. There is LBGTQ representation and lots of boarding school drama and murder to keep things interesting.

    The story takes places (mostly) in a boarding school and it is told from the point of view of one character. You might

    Ever since I read

    , I’ve been looking for another YA suspenseful read and this one fit the bill.

    Going in I figured out the culprit but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit, I really had a good time with this book. The characters are compelling and complex. There is LBGTQ representation and lots of boarding school drama and murder to keep things interesting.

    The story takes places (mostly) in a boarding school and it is told from the point of view of one character. You might enjoy this book if you liked

    or

    .

    Overall, this book was entertaining and fun (in a murderous sort of way), I recommend it to readers of YA, thrillers, and contemporary fiction.

  • Lala BooksandLala

    great writing and pacing, sooo entertaining, weak ending

  • Larry H

    I'm about 3.5 stars here.

    "Does someone who does one bad thing, even one really bad thing, deserve bad things to happen to them? Deserve to be murdered or framed for murder?"

    Kay Donovan wanted a chance to reinvent herself after a pair of tragedies marred her life and tore apart her family. She gets that chance by attending exclusive Bates Academy.

    Although she is on an athletic scholarship, which sets her apart from her incredibly rich classmates, she becomes a star soccer player and part of the s

    I'm about 3.5 stars here.

    "Does someone who does one bad thing, even one really bad thing, deserve bad things to happen to them? Deserve to be murdered or framed for murder?"

    Kay Donovan wanted a chance to reinvent herself after a pair of tragedies marred her life and tore apart her family. She gets that chance by attending exclusive Bates Academy.

    Although she is on an athletic scholarship, which sets her apart from her incredibly rich classmates, she becomes a star soccer player and part of the school's most exclusive clique. These girls are notorious for their cruelty, and while everyone wants to be their friend, it's more out of fear than popularity.

    "You can get away with murder if you're lucky. You don't even have to be smart. Just have a social or political one up on everyone else. People look the other way if they want to. Everybody knows it."

    One night before a ritual post-party swim, the girls make a horrifying discovery: the lifeless body of a fellow student. No one seems to know who she was, but it's not long before they all become suspects in her murder, especially Kay.

    Then it turns out that the dead girl got her revenge, as she created an online scavenger hunt-of sorts for Kay, forcing her to expose her friends, At the same time, her new friendship with a girl they once ridiculed is causing a rift between Kay and her best friend, Brie, and making everyone around her suspect she had a hand in the girl's death.

    While trying to solve the challenges the dead girl has given her, Kay has to come to terms with the betrayal of those she cares about, and figure out whom she can trust. But more than that, she has to decide who she is, and whether she's ready to come to terms with the destruction she's caused.

    Dana Mele's

    strives to be a cross between

    and

    , with a little bit of Karen McManus'

    , with mixed results. Mele tells a good story, and throws in lots of twists so you're not sure which characters to trust. I also liked that the characters' sexuality was presented in a matter-of-fact way.

    The problem I had with this book is that none of the characters were sympathetic, especially Kay. That made it difficult to get fully immersed in the story. I also was a little disappointed with the way some of the plot was resolved, because I felt with all of the possible solutions Mele had, this was a bit of a cop-out.

    In the end, however, this was an entertaining read, and I think it would make a fun movie.

  • Lola

    I am obsessed with boarding school stories. Probably because I never went to such a school myself and am having so much fun living vicariously through these characters.

    Lucky characters. I mean, I go to university, but I’m not in a dorm, so I’ve truly never experienced anything that even comes close to living with my classmates.

    Though after finishing PEOPLE LIKE US, I think maybe it’s a good thing that I’m staying far away from these kinds of places.

    Imagine you’re living with, let’s say, five hu

    I am obsessed with boarding school stories. Probably because I never went to such a school myself and am having so much fun living vicariously through these characters.

    Lucky characters. I mean, I go to university, but I’m not in a dorm, so I’ve truly never experienced anything that even comes close to living with my classmates.

    Though after finishing PEOPLE LIKE US, I think maybe it’s a good thing that I’m staying far away from these kinds of places.

    Imagine you’re living with, let’s say, five hundred other teenagers. From the amount of crimes committed today, it’s possible at least one is or will become a pathological killer. Unfortunately for Kay Donovan, that pathological killer has come in contact with her and wants her to ruin the lives of her friends.

    It’s a sick game. Kay doesn’t have a choice, because she herself has some secrets she’d rather people didn’t know about, and the police already suspects her for the death of Jessica Lane. So she plays the game, and gets other people, as well as herself, burned.

    Kay Donovan never hides that she’s an unreliable character. It takes time for her to give us detail about her past, and more often than not those details are confusing, but at least she’s not pretending she is totally innocent.

    I’ve read better YA mysteries and boarding school tales – give PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL a try! – but this is an engaging story regardless. I personally prefer my mystery heroines to not be innocent or naïve, since they must be smart and have enough grit to want to solve the case in the first place and not just wait for things to happen to them. Kay shows those qualities.

    A little too focused upon relationships and surely it could have been shortened, but I liked that as readers we didn’t know if the murder was premeditated or a crime of passion.

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