They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso

They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso. Sourcebooks Fire, 2022. 9781728251066

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Format: ARC (publication date 1/3/23)

Genre: Suspense/mystery

What did you like about the book?  Maren and Polly have been best friends since freshman year, 2 scholarship students at the ritzy Torrey-Wells Academy. But now Polly is missing; supposedly she’s run away because she couldn’t handle the pressure and only Maren seems concerned about her absence. Polly had been distant and nervous before her disappearance, hanging out with the gorgeous, sophisticated, and wealthy Annabelle. Searching through her roomie’s belongings, Maren finds clues that hint at a sinister secret cult at the school, devoted to elaborate games, with a trail of bodies kept under wraps. Annabelle reveals that the Gamemaster’s Society has Polly stashed in a catacomb under the school grounds; only by participating in an increasingly dangerous competition can Maren hope to free her friend. Her rival is Remington Cruz, a hot football player who’s trying to rescue his friend Jane from the society’s clutches. A love triangle forms with Maren torn between Remington and her somewhat hapless chemistry partner Gavin, also a Gamemaster member. Who can she trust? No one it seems, as even teachers and the school’s administration know of the powerful network of alumni who sponsor and protect the game, promising students money, miracle cures for cancer, access to the Ivies, and even protection from criminal charges. If you love boarding school mysteries and capers (at this point, its own substantial genre), this one was twisty-turny, romantic, and voyeuristic. I thought Maren was more substantial, funny, and resourceful than many main characters in these sorts of teen thrillers and her background as a three season athlete made her endurance and strength more plausible. Most of the main characters cue as White, although it’s possible Remington is supposed to read as a POC.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Presumably the target audience will not be concerned with the book’s utter lack of verisimilitude. A boarding school that dispatches students at this rate might not be around very long. There were so many betrayals that I started to lose track of who was double crossing whom.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a good read alike suggestion for teens who liked the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson or anything by Karen M. McManus.

Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction, mystery if you genre-fy

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 12, 2022

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