Review: The Cousins by Karen McManus


We had so much fun discussing The Cousins at our recent virtual YA book club. Instead of just telling you our thoughts, we’re going to mention a few of our discussion questions and reactions from the group.

Have you read McManus’s latest YA book? Let us know your answers to our questions in the comments!

Book Summary

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah Story have never met their grandmother. Years ago, she disinherited their parents and cut off all contact. Out of the blue, she sends them letters inviting them to stay at her resort on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts for the summer. Their parents make them go, hoping Milly, Aubrey and Jonah can reclaim the family inheritance.

Only, it’s a lot more complicated than that. When they arrive on the island, nobody seems to expect them. Their grandmother keeps them at arms length, but the more time the cousins spend on the island, the more they realize the dark family secrets that have been hidden for the past 25 years. 


1. Was The Cousins able to grab your attention immediately?

We all agreed that this book hooked us immediately. McManus knows how to write a mystery. The setting of a small tourist island combined with family mystery had us intrigued. The dual POVs between Milly, Jonah, and Aubrey kept us interested and wanting to learn more about their parents and why they were disinherited. We figured it had to do with murder, but it ended up being so much more! 

2. What made the book’s setting important to the overall story?

The story had to be set on an island. Someone in our group pointed out that if it took place in a big city, the characters could easily leave. The fact that the island was so remote and off the coast of Massachusetts played an important part in the story. The island could not have been in any other part of the country, considering the nautical vibes. 

McManus wrote vivid descriptions of the island so it almost felt like we were there with the Story family. The beaches and the rough terrain enhanced the plot. 

3. Which character did you relate to the most in the book, and why?

This question had mixed responses. We agreed that Milly was our favorite. We like a smart, sassy MC who everyone underestimates. She took charge and didn’t put up with any BS. 

The guys in the group both picked Jonah, no surprise. They liked that he seemed the most down to earth out of all the characters. He also overcame a lot of challenges. Jonah had the most shocking story line of the three cousins early on, so he basically had a built-in wow factor. 

Other members liked Aubrey for her girl next door vibes. She started as Milly’s sidekick, but eventually gained confidence and stood up to her doubters. Plus, Aubrey had the most character growth overall. 

Everyone also thought that out of the four story siblings, Archer was the best and Allison second. Nobody liked Anders or Adam, which made total sense. They were evil. 

4. What did you think of the ending? Was there anything about the ending that you would have changed?

We all really enjoyed the ending, which left us shocked. McManus has a way of ending her books that always leaves us with our mouths agape. In this case, the letter at the end left a lot to be interpreted and had us questioning one character’s intentions. It also made us wonder if a sequel is in the works.

Our only gripe with the ending was that a lot of the evidence felt very convenient. The cousins stumbled upon some damaging information that just happened to lead them in the right direction. We loved that Aubrey was the one to finally piece it all together, though. It brought her character full circle. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

31 thoughts on “Review: The Cousins by Karen McManus”

  1. I’m not one for thrillers, but this sounds more mysterious than anything. I’m definitely intrigued, just from reading your thoughts here. It was fun to read the Q&A-style review of the book and to learn what others thought about each element of the book as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The cover drew me in! The book summary makes me want to read this book immediately, and I love how you shared the answers to your discussion questions. The way you described the ending is amazing, so now I 100% need to get a copy. Thank you for sharing another wonderful review. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still haven’t read any of McManus’ books, I really need to. This one sounds so good. I love this style of review as well, bringing in the different opinions from everyone in the book club.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read it just at the end of last year and absolutely loved it! It was the first book from this author that I read, but I will surely get back for more! Thanks for sharing x


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