The Cousins

The Cousins

Book - 2020 | First edition
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As a mystery, this one is okay. Character-wise, it strikes a weird balance between a backstory that features interesting characters, and a main story with meh ones. I think I'll leave Karen's next books for those who enjoy her writing more, because really, it doesn't do anything for me.

I think it’s time to acknowledge that Karen M. McManus’s books just aren’t for me.

The Cousins follows Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story, estranged cousins who are all sent the same letter from their grandmother to come and work for her on Gull Cove Island. Their family is from this remote island, and over twenty years ago, their grandmother cut all ties with them, refusing to speak to them ever again. Now, the cousins are back, and the mystery of their grandmother's actions, and their parents' involvement, is a whole lot messier - and more important to their lives - than they thought.

I do love a good mystery, whether YA or adult, and so I have always thought McManus would be right up my alley. However, every time I've picked up one of her books, I've been...underwhelmed. The only one that I really connected with was Two Can Keep a Secret, and though I've never not enjoyed her others, I tend to find them a bit predictable, and I'm ready to have them over with by the end.

With this book, that's definitely true, but I also found the twists just...not for me. Spoilers ahead, but one case of mistaken identity per book is enough for me. I lost count of them here, and I wanted something more than that for the big reveal.

I found also that the characters here are bland. Milly is perhaps the most interesting, but no one does anything that made me go "huh, really?" or anything close to it. The romance here was cheesy and predictable, and I honestly hated that it happened at all.

What kept me reading, I guess, was the mystery of the past. I wanted to know what happened with the original Story kids, and the way that story played out was infinitely more interesting to me. The four Storys had more personality than the cousins did, and they made me want to know what happened to get the family to this place.

So, yeah. As a mystery, this one is okay. Character-wise, it strikes a weird balance between a backstory that features interesting characters, and a main story with meh ones. I think I'll leave Karen's next books for those who enjoy her writing more, because really, it doesn't do anything for me.

TeensReadItFirst3 Mar 10, 2021

Reviewed by Lauren M.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is an intriguing novel. While being primarily a mystery, the underlying themes of romance, friendship, and family build a story with many layers. Overall the plotline is incredibly engaging and unpredictable. The regular surprise twists in the second half of the novel add much suspense to the story and make it impossible to put down. I found the family dynamics presented in the Cousins to be very interesting. The class differences illustrated by the author give a more diverse perspective to the characters and their individual struggles as well as how their grandmother’s wealthy background influences the people they interact with. Ultimately it contributes to an important message about how money can be a corrupt motivation in peoples’ lives.

Throughout my reading, I noticed how well developed and unique the characters were. The author does a fantastic job of conveying the tension between certain characters whether it was romantic or based in hatred. I quickly developed favourites (and least favourites) and felt satisfied with how everyone’s individual storylines concluded. I would absolutely recommend The Cousins to anyone looking for a simple but thrilling read.

Rating 5/5

Feb 23, 2021

I absolutely enjoyed reading The Cousins because the plot and characters were amazing! This book takes place in the modern world, when three cousins, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are invited to meet their rich grandmother and work at her resort for the summer. Their parents are adamant they go to get back into the good graces of their grandmother, who had disinherited all of her children years ago. As Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah discover the dark secrets of their family's past, they learn more about each other and grow closer to one another. I really loved all of the character's interactions with each other because each of their conversations brought them to life and made them seem real. The plot twists throughout the book surprised me, and I definitely did not expect it to end the way it did. The story was well-paced with a little romance and realistic descriptions. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and plot twists!

TeensReadItFirst2 Feb 08, 2021

Reviewed by Ainsley H.

I would rate The Cousins a 4 out of 5 stars because it had a lot of cliff hangers and made me want to keep reading. I liked how the characters were relatable and were not the typical teenagers that are shown in books. The ending felt a bit rushed because of how sudden everything was and it did not seem finished but hopefully, that’s because there is a sequel coming. I liked how it had each person's point-of-view, although it felt a bit confusing having Allison’s point-of-view and not any of the other siblings. The writing kept me engaged because I always wanted to know what the other cousins were thinking and how they felt about the scenario. Overall, it was a good book because of the twist and turns and mystery involved.

Feb 05, 2021


I really enjoyed One of Us Is Lying and it's sequel, One of Us Is Next and stand alone, Two Can Keep a Secret so I had to try McManus's newest release. Right away this one did not catch my interest much, but I kept reading as I did enjoy her previous novels. I did get a bit hooked with the family drama aspect of the book to see what caused the big rift. Sigh, the ending just let me down. I gave it 3 stars as it was an easy read and I stayed to the end.

Jan 13, 2021

a competently crafted YA mystery

TeensReadItFirst Jan 11, 2021

Reviewed by Selina Y.

After completing the book ‘The Cousins’, I was completely mind blown and utterly speechless. Throughout the book, Milly, Audrey and Jonah Story curiously explore their grandmother’s grand island resort in search of an answer as to why she invited them in the first place, as they have never met her before- the ending will leave you in absolute shock! McManus throws a whirlwind of crazy and exciting twists in the book that puts everything into a completely different perspective at the end.

There were a lot of great subplots that made the main storyline even more creative and exciting (although, it was a bit difficult to keep track of people’s names throughout the book), and I really enjoyed reading the flashback point of view of Milly’s mother. Did I get extremely invested and made a great number of connections to the book? Yes. Would I recommend this book to my friends and family in the future? Definitely. Overall, if you’re looking for a thrilling book with shocking twists and a compelling storyline, you should definitely consider checking this book out!

This book receives 4.5/5 stars for me!

Jan 07, 2021

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is an amazing young adult mystery, filled with plot twists and turns. Three cousins who haven’t seen each other in years are suddenly sent away to work at a hotel for the summer, following a letter from the owner of the hotel: their wealthy grandmother. Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah are all around the same age, but their parents hardly communicate, causing them to be complete strangers to one-another. The last their parents saw of their mother was weeks before they were all disowned, with a mysterious note from her lawyer. When Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah received their letters, their parents jumped at the opportunity, hoping they would mend things with their grandmother and receive parts of the family fortune, but all is not as it had appeared. The book is written from the point of view of each cousin, alternating chapter by chapter. I had high hopes for this book when I first got it, and it exceeded my expectations. It is an intricately written novel with many hidden hints at what is to come. I would recommend this book for readers ages 13 and up. At the end of the book, all loose ends are tied up, leaving for a very satisfying read. The Cousins easily lives up to the high bar set by Karen M. McManus’s other mystery novels.

TSCPL_Miranda Jan 04, 2021

3.5! Enjoyable, twisty YA mystery. If you liked the authors previous work, you'll enjoy the multiple perspective, family secrets, and wtf-just-happened reveals. This one did not quite reach the mark of One of Us is Lying for me on the twisty meter, but I really liked the characters, the romance, and the surprises. Bonus for audio fans: the audiobook is narrated by multiple authors, including Julia Whelan, a favorite of mine, and it made for a really lovely weekend listen.

OPL_KrisC Dec 19, 2020

A twisty family mystery that will have readers guessing until the end. Definitely took a turn that I didn't see coming! For fans of E. Lockhart.

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