The Cousins was a thrilling family based mystery that had over the top family drama, plot twists for days, and a great trio of Cousins who melted my heart.
The Story family children were all disowned by their mother, and ripped of their huge inheritances, never to see their mother again nor step foot on the place they grew up, the tiny island resort that their family owned. Millie, Aubrey, and Jonah are all children of some of the Story kids who were disowned. One day, they all receive a letter to work on their Grandma’s private island. The cousins haven’t seen each other since they were younger, and all take the offer to go work on the island and meet the Grandmother who has never contacted them. But there is always more behind the surface, and these cousins want to find out the truth behind the Story family and how their parents got disowned by their own mother.
I absolutely loved the characters of Millie, Aubrey, and Jonah Story. Their “trio” was the cutest thing ever and I loved seeing how they went from not even knowing each other that well, to becoming true friends. With McManus’ books, I’ve always loved the casts of characters that she has in her books and this one is no exception. Also, their parents were utterly fascinating and I just loved that we got glimpses into the past from Millie’s mom’s perspective. It added to the overall feeling, and made me very curious to know what happened to the Story family. Though there was some romance, which plays a very important part in the story, I personally didn’t care much for it. I think I would have appreciated more if we got better development between the two characters.
Another caveat was the overall feel of the book being too similar to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. This similarity took away from the creativity of the island and the storyline about family coming together on an island. They are different enough in many ways, but I found myself comparing The Cousins to We Were Liars more than I wanted to. Still, I do love a good family drama, and little islands are honestly super fun to read about. Who wouldn’t want to go stay on an island for the summer? I’d definitely work on this island.
Despite the comparison to Lockhart’s book, McManus is the queen of YA mysteries, and she didn’t disappoint. One plot twist that happens about 1/3 of the way through the book thoroughly shocked me, which was exciting as far as having something revealed that early in the story. However, because of that, the conclusion of the book may have suffered a bit from it as the bar was raised, and expectations were likely higher than usual for an even stronger twist at the end. Even though that wasn’t the case, I lived for the family drama and the Storys are such a fascinating family that I couldn’t put the book down.
Just go read this book. I promise it is entertaining and won’t disappoint. The characters will draw you in to the story, and I think the main selling point of this novel is the complexity of the characters. I find the family relationships to be such an interesting topic, as a lot of YA books neglect the parents. This one had a good mix of present and past, wrapping them up nicely in the end. It keeps your attention, and it isn’t boring in the slightest. Karen M. McManus delivered on this book, just like she’s always done. I recommend this to anyone who’s read McManus’ other books, or people who are looking for a solid YA Mystery with a great cast of characters.