Jill Newman attends an exclusive prep school on Long Island called Gold Coast Prep. On the outside, Jill’s life is perfect, but nothing is as it seems, especially since three years ago Jill’s best friend Shaila Arnold was killed by her boyfriend on the beach. Flash forward to her senior year, and Jill is living her best life as a member of her school’s not-so-secret society, The Players. She’s spent the last three years putting the past behind her. After all, Graham, Shaila’s boyfriend, confessed to the crime. Case closed, right? Wrong. When Jill begins receiving texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, any chance of a perfect senior year falls through her fingertips. If Shaila’s case isn’t closed and Graham didn’t kill her, then who did? Jill is determined to find out before the killer claims her as their next victim.
We love a good murder mystery! Throw in unsupervised rich kids and we’re hooked. They Wish They Were Us is marketed as Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying “with a dash of The Secret History.” And boy did it not disappoint.
Goodman crafted a thrilling mystery that left us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. What left us so impressed was Goodman’s attention to detail. The reader comes to understand the psychological pain Players endure, especially the women. We get an in-depth look at the lives of Gold Coast’s elite teenagers and the insane pressure Jill finds herself under to get into Brown.
They Wish They Were Us was so well-rounded at times that we didn’t even find ourselves itching for romance (you all know we’re die hard YA romance fanatics, so that’s saying something). We came to really understand Jill and the complexities of her character. She could’ve easily been a stereotypical “rich kid” but she worked for everything she had, especially academically. We were so happy to see her stand up for what she believed in, even if it made her some enemies along the way. She knew she had to seek justice for Shaila and go against the status quo.
Moreover, the characters were super intriguing in this book. They all had a history as members of The Players and Shaila’s former best friends. Delving into that history and seeing some old drama flare up was entertaining. Not to mention that they were unsupervised 90% of the time, opening up opportunities for the teen drama we all crave in these types of books.
The mystery was incredibly well done. Goodman should teach a class on how to artfully craft a YA mystery/thriller plot line. The writing was in-depth and we really came to understand Shaila’s character through flashbacks and Jill’s memories despite her not being alive. Watching Jill reconcile her past memories of Shaila with her present situation was a big part of the story and made the plot even juicier as she pieced together the mystery behind Shaila’s past. Jill and Rachel, Graham’s sister, made quite the detective duo. We definitely didn’t expect some of the plot points— so kudos to Goodman for keeping us on our toes.
Though there was no romance, we still really enjoyed this book. It was so well done that we didn’t need it. The end wrapped up nicely and was fulfilling. We cannot wait to see this book come to life in the upcoming tv show, The Players Table! If you’re looking for a juicy and twisty-turny mystery, definitely check this one out!