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Unraveling the string

The promising future of young adult mystery

One of the most controversial “would you rather” questions of the reading community surrounds bookworms’ preferences for novels: who wants to close the book and be done, and who wants that universe expanded? No matter how long they have to wait; no matter how many books they have to read.

While I can definitely go either way, I usually fall into “team standalone”. There’s something so uniquely satisfying about shutting a book and thinking solely about its ending, with no thoughts of continuations or cliffhangers simmering in the background. In my mind, reading is pointless without the individualized experience each different reader gains while curled up with that book. Reading standalones, though giving one less time with beloved characters, gives them the opportunity to meet so many brand new ones.

However, on the “rare exceptions list” absolutely lies A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.

The “AGGGTM” series, as it’s been acronymized by its mass fandom, is redefining the Young Adult Mystery genre. Readers of all ages and walks of life can find themselves in Pippa Fitz-Amobi, a high school senior who decides to investigate a controversial local murder for her “capstone” project. The case is firmly closed. The police are adamant that Andie Bell, who was a senior at Pip’s high school five years ago, was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh. End of story. However, Pip’s curiosity transforms into something stronger when it becomes clear that the story isn’t complete.

The sensational first novel of this highly acclaimed series skyrocketed in the “BookTok” community for a multitude of reasons. The universality of the story gave it an appeal to any reader. Romance readers swooned over Pip’s eventual alliance with Ravi Singh, whose family had fallen into disgrace after the supposed murder their kin committed and his subsequent suicide. Mystery readers went batty with every twist, eager to unravel the mystery along with Pip, or even beat her to it. Literary fiction readers loved the broader meaning of the book: not everything meets the eye, and justice is fickle.

I read this book in 2021, enraptured with the complexity of the mystery. Holly Jackson outdid herself, no doubt about it, but it only goes uphill from there. The first book of this series pales in comparison to the sequels. Stay tuned.

Content warnings can reveal major spoilers in this story, so I’d recommend checking if you have any concerns. Stay safe.

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About the Contributor
Julia Kado '24
Julia Kado '24, Staff Writer
After spending the summer reading and blasting music, Julia Kado ’24 is back and ready for her last year on staff. Often found in Mr. Campion’s room, Kado enjoys diving into lectures, poems and thriller books. Kado is a third-year staffer who has grown into her own role on Tower over the past three years. Always up for a conversation, she is a self-proclaimed chatterbox. Kado has also created her own segment in the Tower, the Kado Chronicles. This book review column provides her a space to share her love for reading.“Books have been integral to me since before I could read,” Kado said. “Once I began to actually enjoy what I was reading, it gave me a million perspectives at once.”Through her segment, Kado said she wants to engage readers in new ideas and books, always looking for her next read.“I want to provide people with recommendations that will entice them and give them food for thought,” Kado said.

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