Friends Like These / Jennifer Lynn Alvarez / Book Review

Nobody would miss Tegan Sheffield's annual end-of-summer party. It's the last big bash before senior year, after all. Jessica might not want to go--why would she, when her boyfriend Jake used to date Tegan?--but everyone will be there. It's a must.

But then there's a video prank. Then there's a fight. Then the police get involved. When a body washes up on the shore in the days after the party, Jessica and Jake find themselves suddenly the center of attention. Have Crystal Cove's cutest couple become Crystal Cove's... killer couple?

Jake doesn't remember, and Jessica doesn't want to find out. But it's a race against the clock as more evidence turns up... and more suspects start surfacing. 


I found this book hard to rate overall, because there's nothing particularly special about it... and yet I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's pure escapism in the best kind of way. While my rating might not appear overly enthusiastic, I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it for anyone looking to escape into a topsy-turvy melodramatic world for a couple days. 


  • Engaging Voice: Right from the start, this book draws you in. The narrative style is easy to sink into. It's easy to read. I rarely experience the kind of escapism I did here, and I highly enjoyed it!
  • Narrative Secrets: You know what's really hard to do in first person narratives? Keep secrets from the reader. But Jennifer Lynn Alvarez nails it here. These characters can't remember what happened. They were drunk or high--or both--and so their memory is unreliable. They don't want to admit the truth so much so that they keep it hidden even from themselves, tucked into a dark corner of the mind that they never venture to. So these secrets stay hidden even as the characters unravel their own stories. Readers would never suspect!
  • Loveable Buffoon: Jake, the love interest (and also prime suspect in this rapidly unfolding case), is not a bright kid, but he's a well-intentioned kid. He's a bit of a dolt, but he doesn't really mean to be. And he's given a voice here. He tells his own story, and as he recognizes his  shortcomings, he remains a loveable buffoon--even as he shoots himself in the foot more than once (though never quite so literally). 


  • Exposition: A lot of this book is dedicated to building. The characters are great, and the voice is engaging. But after a certain point, the lead-up felt like it was too much. I had the looming sense that whatever this story was building toward wouldn't end up being worth the waiting, and it ultimately wasn't. The reveal at the end--there's always a reveal at the end, right?--was fine, but it definitely wasn't worth the internal hype. 
  • Faux Cliffhanger: It felt like every chapter ended on a highly dramatic note. Now, this isn't necessarily a problem, but that sort of expectation needs some payoff in the next chapter. But these "cliffhanger" moments were generally pretty mundane after the fact, so the ramping up of emotional language at the end of each chapter ended up being irksome rather than thrilling. I know it's a thriller, but readers don't need every chapter to end on a high note!
  • Too Many Secrets: I know I was just praising Alvarez's ability to keep narrative secrets, but as much as I enjoyed this aspect, it wasn't always executed perfectly. Put simply, some of these "secrets" just didn't make sense to me as secrets. I think the idea was to create tension by hiding red herrings in this plot, but it didn't quite work. The characters had no reason to hide some of their "secrets," and so it made little sense to have them guarded so closely in, you know, a first person account. 



Fans of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall will appreciate piecing together the mystery of this post-party pandemonium. Those who liked the spiraling paranoia of Kyra Leigh's It Will End Like This will enjoy this new batch of seaside suspects. 


Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: November 1, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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