American author Karen M. McManus is a mystery writer who has authored several young-adult novels since 2017. Her first bestseller was also her first published work, titled One Of Us Is Lying. Her second work, Two Can Keep a Secret, was based on serial murders.

Growing up, McManus adored thrillers. This reflects in her books, for most of her works revolve around teenagers and murder mystery.

In 2021, her debut novel was adapted for the big screen by Peacock. One of Us is now a three-book series.


You’ll Be the Death of Me follows three high school students who have nothing in common apart from a childhood memory. The story takes place over a single day as the three protagonists decide to skip school. A seemingly innocent decision suddenly escalates as the trio goes about their day navigating the complexity. Old familiarities revive their stale friendship. However, secrets are soon revealed as tension reaches boiling point. Before the day is over, the teenagers have to face real dangers and work against the ticking clock to solve a murder mystery that may or may not be related to their personal lives.


In You’ll Be the Death of Me, Karen McManus has delivered yet another original story. Her execution is quite brilliant, too. The familiarity of premise and characters are comforting to the readers as the story begins. The protagonists provide an account of their life from their own points of view, which helps them strike an instant chord with the readers.

McManus deserves a huge shout-out for her subtlety. She only reveals what is necessary and keeps the readers guessing what is coming next.

The natural conduct of every major and minor character is refreshing and it speaks volumes about the maturity of the author herself. For such a high-octane thriller, You’ll Be the Death of Me is a surprisingly humorous novel. This humor is delicate and very much in keeping with the teenagers of the Internet era.

The drama, while kept to a bare minimum, is still engaging. All the characters are caught up in their own troubles before they are dragged into yet another one – together. It is purely down to McManus’ genius that readers are almost compelled to sympathize with the protagonists, even when it is clear that their actions are motivated by their self-interests.

Another highlight of the book is that it is a thriller without a villain. The mystery murderer is a rather minor character. The journey itself is the story, and the story does have a happy ending with many lives changing for the better.


For a novel of its genre, You’ll Be the Death of Me doesn’t quite live up to the expectations as far as thrill is concerned. Besides, there are a couple of instances where the characters’ reactions are just a little too convenient to serve the story, yet not completely unrealistic to undermine the plot. The degree of detail is average, which is certainly a damp squib for readers who would have hoped for a more immersive experience.


You can be right in principle and still wrong in approach.

It’s normal for people to grow apart when they reach high school, I guess, and it’s not like our friend breakup was some big, dramatic thing.

That I preferred extreme failure to admitting I needed help. Which is a problem, isn’t it?


Ameya Rating:

While by no means a classic, You’ll Be the Death of Me is definitely a one-time read. Well-delineated characters and a simmering tension from start to finish are the highlights of the novel.

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