They wish they were us, by Jessica Goodman (reviewed by Shuohan P.)
They Wish They Were Us is really similar to the books One of Us is Lying and One of Us is Next. The high school life, the murder mystery, everything felt like it fit together perfectly. They Wish They Were Us is about a young girl, Jill Newman, who has to deal with the loss of her best friend Shaila when she is supposedly killed by Graham Calloway, her boyfriend. But on top of this, Jill has to balance being the “best” group in high school: The Players. She has access to all the cheats to tests and colleges in one app because she has passed the obstacles to become a player. Now, she has to try to solve the mystery of Shaila’s death and pick a new batch of Players using pops, a series of extremely difficult obstacles one has to overcome to become a Player. But she starts to find that something is wrong with both of these things, and must navigate her way through what she thought would be the best year of her life.
I really enjoyed how this was not just a “My crush killed my [insert loved one/friend here] when I thought they died of [natural cause/innocent person/unexpected cause]” book. The Players thing really added a lot to They Wish They Were Us, and surprisingly, I was more interested in the Players than solving the mystery when reading the book. It is not just a murder mystery, which is the good thing, because the answer to the mystery is way too obvious. I appreciated all of the flashbacks to what Jill and the others had to experience to become a Player, and the flashbacks to when Shaila was still alive. The story is very captivating, and there is a plot twist at the end that is subpar, but like I said, the Players deal makes up for it. I liked this book not for the mystery, but for the Players. If the author could make a prequel about only the Players, I would definitely gobble it up. All in all, a good book!