ARC REVIEW: How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

*Thank you to Bloomsbury for the eARC!!*

How We Fall Apart follows Nancy, a scholarship student at the elite Sinclair Prep School, in the aftermath of the tragic death of her classes’ top student, Jamie Ruan. The whole school is shaken when they hear the news, but it only gets worse when an anonymous poster on the school’s social media app tries to pin the murder on Nancy and three of her closest friends, by revealing their deepest darkest secrets, one by one. Nancy and her friends need to find out the identity of the poster, and Jamie’s murderer, before they go down for a crime that they all swear they did not commit.

If you like Karen McManus books, or AGGGTM or any of the other trending high-school murder mystery books, you will absolutely love this book. It’s so fast-paced that I found myself saying ‘just one more chapter…’ for hours on end until I finished the whole book in two sittings, and it’s a really quick and easy read. It’s also quite terrifying at times, with the intensity ramping up and up towards the end in the lead up to the book’s big reveal.

The protagonist in this book was absolutely my favourite thing about it. I liked that Nancy’s friends – Alexander, Peter, Akil, Krystal and Jamie – were developed with their own troubles and backstories, but the depth of Nancy’s character overshadowed all of this. What on the surface came across as inconsistency with her actions turned into a complicated sense of self as the story went on, and Nancy’s erratic emotions and behaviour seemed completely justified as we delved deeper into her difficult relationship with Jamie, the school, and her other privileged classmates.

I wasn’t overly surprised by the ending, but it was written in such a dramatic and intense way that I didn’t mind that I guessed the ‘whodunnit’ element before it was revealed. It definitely felt worth the lead up with an intense and dangerous climax and there were enough suspicious characters throughout the story that it didn’t feel like it was too obvious.

I’d definitely recommend this if you’re in a slump or looking for a fun, gripping, drama-filled read, and I’m excited to see what Katie Zhao writes next.

Rating: 4/5