Thursday Review: LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas

Synopsis: Kacey Young has only been living with her dad and stepfamily for a year or so, after escaping from an unpleasant home life with her mother. Things are still delicately balanced, but it feels like she’s finally found a real home—her stepbrother Andrew has become one of her best friends, and she’s finally won over her 13-year-old half-sister Lauren.

Kacey’s friends, though, are another matter entirely. At the beginning of the book, it seems like Kacey, Bailey, and Jade have become an inseparable trio, even if Bailey’s always suggesting ways for them to get into trouble in their small Wisconsin town. Kacey goes along with it—even if she’d rather not, sometimes. And that’s where we see the cracks start to form in their seemingly perfect unit. One night, Bailey and Jade go to a raging party without inviting Kacey along…but Bailey never comes home afterward.

In this page-turning thriller, everyone’s got something to hide—and the person who’s got the most to hide is sometimes the one you least suspect.

Observations: As with a lot of my reviews of suspense novels, I’ve tried to keep this one brief to avoid spoilers. But I can say a few things! One of the intriguing structural choices for this story was the decision to alternate sections from Kacey’s first-person viewpoint with diary excerpts from another character’s point of view. This sets up an immediate opposition and tension, with the reader wondering who’s hiding what, and who they can really trust as a narrator. It kept me sort of suspicious of everyone until the last few chapters. In a way, that distanced me from Kacey as the primary narrator of the story, but not so much that I didn’t want to keep following along.

The fact that all the major players DO have something to hide makes this an intriguing and gripping story—obviously, in a good whodunit, lots of possible motives are at play, and if they’re woven in well, it keeps the reader guessing. And in this one, Kacey’s murky past keeps her right in the center of things, including the suspicions of everyone around her.

Conclusion: I often turn to a good thriller when I’m looking for a fast read that’s immersive and emotionally tense, to distract me from stress and busy-ness. This fit the bill perfectly and, as a fun bonus, there’s a mixed-race Asian American character! (Though his identity was not really explored in the story. Pretty sure it would be a THING in a small town. Oh well.) Recommended for suspense fans.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library’s ebook collection. You can find LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

About the author

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, editor, graphic designer, proofreader, and localization QA tester, so she wears a teetering pile of hats. On any given day, she is very tired. She is the author of the middle grade graphic novel Alexis vs. Summer Vacation, and three YA novels, including the award-winning The Latte Rebellion.

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