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.