Hello, and happy book birthday to How We Fall Apart, by Katie Zhao! I am SO excited for today’s review: I’ve been excited for How We Fall Apart for months, and I was thrilled to be able to read an advance copy of the book. Anyways, I’m going to get right into my review for this fantastic book.
How We Fall Apart
Author: K. C. Simos
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: August 17th, 2021
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, thriller
Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.
Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.
They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.
I received an advance copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review of the book.
Set at Sinclair Prep, an elite private high school, How We Fall Apart is a story of school, betrayal, and the price some will pay for the perfect grade.
The protagonist, Nancy Luo has been number 2 her whole life, always second to top student, and her ex best friend, Jame Ruan. But when Jamie is murdered, that makes Nancy top student, and a prime suspect for the murder.
Nancy, along with her friends Krystal, Alexander, and Akil soon become enveloped in the murder of their classmate, but that isn’t their only problem. A mysterious person called ‘The Proctor’ has taken to social media and is threatening to expose their secrets, secrets that could unravel the lives of Nancy and the others.
I could not put this down for one second that I was reading it. It is such an engaging story, and I always had to know what would happen next. (And I still very much do. That ending sure left the reader in quite a bit of suspense, and set the stage perfectly for a sequel).
How We Fall Apart is told from the 1st person perspective, so everything in the book is from Nancy. I loved the way this was written because Nancy is quite an unreliable narrator, not always even telling herself the truth, which leads to a fascinating amount of uncertainty when reading the book.
And Nancy wasn’t the only incredible person in this book. All the other main characters; Akil, Krystal, Alexander, and Jamie had such rich and complex stories that we got to learn about through the marvelously woven together layers of the story.
Even though I absolutely hated Peter, he also had such an interesting character and history, and I really need to learn more of his secrets, and find out what was left in the dark in the book.
Katie Zhao does an amazing job with having a diverse cast of characters in the book as well. Nancy Luo, the protagonist is Chinese-American, and all of the main characters are Asian. There is a side sapphic relationship that is written very well, and was wonderful to read about because the relationship did not center around the fact that it was two girls, but about the people themselves, and about their relationship and how it all tied to the main plot.
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of THE DRAGON WARRIOR series (Bloomsbury Kids), HOW WE FALL APART (Bloomsbury Kids), forthcoming LAST GAMER STANDING (Scholastic), and forthcoming WINNIE ZENG series (Random House Children’s Books). She is represented by Penny Moore of Aevitas Creative Management. She’s a passionate advocate for representation in literature and media.
Overall, How We Fall Apart is an incredible book, and one that I cannot recommend more to anyone in search of a good YA thriller, or to any fan of dark academia.