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People Like Us

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Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she's reinvented herself entirely. Now she's a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl's body is found in the lake, Kay's carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay's finally backed into a corner, she'll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make...not something that happened.

Debut author Dana Mele has written a taut, sophisticated suspense novel that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 27, 2018

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About the author

Dana Mele

5 books382 followers
Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer based in the upper Hudson Valley. A graduate of Wellesley College, Dana holds degrees in theatre, education, and law. Dana’s debut, PEOPLE LIKE US, was published in 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 ITW Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel. A second YA thriller, SUMMER'S EDGE was published by Simon & Schuster in May 2022.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,522 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
June 25, 2019
Okay, I knew. I knew going into this that I was going to enjoy it. But I was not actually really expecting this to be one of my favorite YA suspense novels of all time. But I swear to god Dana Mele could have been looking into my brain’s idea of a perfect YA thriller and STILL would have nailed it. ya girl just read and adored an arc of the fucked up sapphic mean girls book and is officially living life to the fullest.

People Like Us is a thriller driven first and foremost by character dynamics. Most of which are either vaguely twisted and/or vaguely gay. It’s almost a love triangle, but it’s also… not. It’s more like a twisted web of character dynamics that just got me more and more enthralled. It’s a book where everyone is holding secrets, everyone has something up their sleeve. And thankfully, that is exactly my genre of thriller.

While the characters felt occasionally hard to keep track of at the beginning of the book, it’s hard to overstate how much the character focus helped my reading experience – there were so many possible suspects and motives that I had no clue who it could be. And even better, literally no character in this book feels totally flat; even very minor side characters are given sympathetic moments that they wouldn’t get in any other book. I’ve seen several reviews criticizing the fact that all of these characters are pretty awful people, and... well, they’re not wrong. But for me, these characters were interesting and sympathetic, despite some of their awful deeds.

Something I definitely noticed was just how well Kay’s narration fit her characterization. Kay’s voice is very engaged with the situation, yet she is strangely cold and undramatic in her telling. No moment was given more drama than it warranted, creating a situation in which the audience simply must process the sheer gravity of what is occurring. And it completely fits Kay’s personality - I don’t even know how to explain it, but her narration fit her so perfectly. I got so attached to her by the end.

Something I really liked about this is that it’s essentially set in a world where being sapphic is totally normalized - there’s not even any angst over unrequited crush on a straight best friend. I’m sure someone will be upset by the lack of labels, but for me the book felt like a breath of fresh air. I loved that Kay’s crush on Bri isn’t the main plot point, but is still a major factor. Even that love-triangle-with-boy-and-girl thing couldn’t bother me in the totally normative space of this book - it is written so perfectly and not at all as a sexuality crisis. No character is bothered by Kay or Bri or any other character being sapphic. This is everything I’ve ever wanted: a queer girl thriller where the drama isn’t that they’re queer. Come on, you have to admit that’s awesome. You have to.

Something that struck me a lot about this book is that there’s no red herring; it’s just a slow buildup to a final reveal. And while the reveal isn’t actually the most shocking thing I’ve read in my whole life, it still surprised me. Which is a really hard to do after a long life reading thrillers, but just to reiterate: this really was not your typical YA thriller on a lot of levels. And even if it had been, it’s not the who that impressed me - it’s the why. I didn’t guess the who, either - couldn’t pin my guess down - but I really did not guess the why.

I’ve been thinking about why the reveal stayed with me so well, and I think it’s because I genuinely didn’t want any of these characters to be the killer. I knew one had to be. Of course. But I felt genuinely attached to these awful, terrible characters. That’s another thing sticking with me as I finish this book – People Like Us could have survived off its reveal alone or its characters alone, but Dana Mele chose to go further, to pull off both. It's an achievement worth reading this book for.

→ elise nitpicks her faves ←
Very minor spoiler, but tagged anyway: . And major TWs: .

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
August 20, 2020
i enjoy a good boarding school mystery as much as the next person, but the characters completely ruined this book for me.

i have limited patience for catty teenage girls and this particular group of mean girls really drove me up a wall. i find it a difficult challenge to redeem this kind of character - not impossible, but difficult - and there is not one ounce of possible redemption for this group of girls. they are the literal worst, not to mention they are carbon copies of each other.

such a shame this whole ‘murder mystery’ revolves around petty bullying and unrealistic revenge. just not my cup of tea.

2 stars
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,616 reviews10.7k followers
December 12, 2022

People Like Us is a deeply-twisted YA Mystery set at a private school; so, basically, my brand.


At Bates Academy, Kay Donovan and her glitzy group of girlfriends, are the most popular girls in school.

They basically determine the social ranking of the rest of their peers and seem to get away with everything, including perpetually bad behavior.

When they stumble across the dead body of one of their classmates, however, they finally seem to be treading in dangerous waters.

But they didn't do anything. She was already dead by the time they came along. Why does it seem like they are under suspicion?

Maybe the dead girl wasn't innocent herself. Kay ends up receiving a computer-coded scavenger hunt from her, after she was already dead, that causes Kay to look a little deeper at those around her.

Before they know it, their tight little group is beginning to implode.

I thought this book was fun. It followed a fairly typical YA Thriller format and that's okay.

If you are looking for a quick fun read, with lots of twists, turns and unlikable characters, you should definitely check this one out!

Yeah, you've got nothing but time. Backlist bump!!!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
March 7, 2018
I'm about 3.5 stars here.

"Does someone who does one bad thing, even one really bad thing, deserve bad things to happen to them? Deserve to be murdered or framed for murder?"

Kay Donovan wanted a chance to reinvent herself after a pair of tragedies marred her life and tore apart her family. She gets that chance by attending exclusive Bates Academy.

Although she is on an athletic scholarship, which sets her apart from her incredibly rich classmates, she becomes a star soccer player and part of the school's most exclusive clique. These girls are notorious for their cruelty, and while everyone wants to be their friend, it's more out of fear than popularity.

"You can get away with murder if you're lucky. You don't even have to be smart. Just have a social or political one up on everyone else. People look the other way if they want to. Everybody knows it."

One night before a ritual post-party swim, the girls make a horrifying discovery: the lifeless body of a fellow student. No one seems to know who she was, but it's not long before they all become suspects in her murder, especially Kay.

Then it turns out that the dead girl got her revenge, as she created an online scavenger hunt-of sorts for Kay, forcing her to expose her friends, At the same time, her new friendship with a girl they once ridiculed is causing a rift between Kay and her best friend, Brie, and making everyone around her suspect she had a hand in the girl's death.

While trying to solve the challenges the dead girl has given her, Kay has to come to terms with the betrayal of those she cares about, and figure out whom she can trust. But more than that, she has to decide who she is, and whether she's ready to come to terms with the destruction she's caused.

Dana Mele's People Like Us strives to be a cross between Mean Girls and Heathers , with a little bit of Karen McManus' One of Us is Lying , with mixed results. Mele tells a good story, and throws in lots of twists so you're not sure which characters to trust. I also liked that the characters' sexuality was presented in a matter-of-fact way.

The problem I had with this book is that none of the characters were sympathetic, especially Kay. That made it difficult to get fully immersed in the story. I also was a little disappointed with the way some of the plot was resolved, because I felt with all of the possible solutions Mele had, this was a bit of a cop-out.

In the end, however, this was an entertaining read, and I think it would make a fun movie.
Profile Image for Josu Diamond.
Author 8 books33.2k followers
May 11, 2020
Una montaña rusa… ¿en el mal sentido?

Llevo detrás de este libro desde que anunciaron su publicación en Estados Unidos, hace ya casi tres años. Hablé de ella en mis redes sociales, y no ha sido hasta ahora que he decidido que era el momento de darle la tan merecida oportunidad. Y no, no me había hecho expectativas previas porque en mi vida me había encontrado con nadie hablando de este libro en redes sociales, y mucho menos dando su opinión al respecto. Así que os cuento…

En Chicas como nosotras tenemos un poquito de todo. Desde asesinatos a tramas de amoríos, celos y venganza, pasando por pasados traumáticos, acción e investigaciones policiales. Sí, son elementos que me gustan, porque desde el primer momento me pareció un cruce entre la serie Pequeñas Mentirosas (porque hay un anónimo-sabelotodo-extorsionador) y a Élite (porque es una escuela de gente top, que se preocupan más por las apariencias y los éxitos profesionales que por ser buenas personas). ¿Qué podría salir mal si parecía mi libro perfecto? ¡Ah! Y además, la protagonista es bisexual. Yo estaba como, gurrrrrl… this IS for me!


la jessy

Pasaban las páginas y me iba introduciendo más y más en la historia. La primera mitad del libro me enganchó bastante. El tema del anónimo extorsionador me parecía una fantasía (porque SIEMPRE me lo parece), y más en este caso. Ver a pijas llorar por perder su vida perfecta… Ufff, qué penita. Así que yo estaba apoyando en todo momento a mi querida protagonista Kay. Sin embargo, según avanzamos más y más… Uf. La cosa no es tan buena.

La protagonista tiene un pasado super turbulento que literalmente no terminamos de descubrir hasta la última página. Literalmente. La autora juega durante toda la novela a contar su pasado a medias, convirtiendo a Kay en un alma en pena. ¿Sinceramente? Lectura diagonal en esas partes. Hay que saber dosificar y jugar correctamente con este tipo de tramas, y más si esa información que no vas compartiendo es tan relevante en el personaje. Al final ¿qué es lo que pasa? Que se pierde el interés, y claro, sabes perfectamente que las cosas van a ir por otro camino porque la maldita protagonista NO ES HONESTA. Estás leyendo una mentira y lo sabes. Pero bueno, tampoco quiero entrar demasiado en detalle para no revelar demasiada información..

Respecto al resto de personajes me ha parecido curioso ver cómo había tantos, y con subtramas que se entrelazaban entre ellas. Sí es cierto que eso es lo que hace que esto se asemeje a los libros mamarrachos que me gusta leer, y quizá por eso en ese sentido me ha gustado que de alguna manera sea ‘coral’.

f*ck da police

Otra cosa que me ha gustado mucho es el tema del asesinato. Dejando de lado los motivos y las personas implicadas, todo el entramado me ha parecido lo más interesante de la novela. Hacia el final del libro la autora trata de que el asesinato no sea tan importante, sino el viaje interior de la protagonista en busca de… Uy, perdona. Me he dormido solo pensando en ello. Señora, ¡que quiero que me manipules continuamente! ¡Que quiero cadáveres! Pero bueno, en ese sentido, todo el tema policía y homicidios… Pues oye, ni tan mal. Entretenido.

Ahora bien, respecto al ritmo o el estilo de la autora... Lo siento. Había páginas y páginas describiendo la casa de no sé quién, la ropa que llevaba no sé cuántas… Ninguno de estos elementos en los que la autora se para son relevantes en la trama. ¡Y los que son relevantes pasan desapercibidos! Porque claro, la protagonista no está muy bien mentalmente, entonces pues te lo comenta de pasada para que resulte confuso. Y eso no va mucho conmigo.

La relación lésbica de la protagonista… Pues oye. Un tira y afloja constante. Me encanta que en ningún momento el libro trate sobre temas como salir del armario, o similares. Es un thriller juvenil que resulta que está protagonizado por personajes LGTB. No hay muchos libros que puedan presumir de ello, así que es un voto a favor.

breendemos por la mooerta

En definitiva, la novela se va deshinchando y vuelve a coger un poco de fuerza al final. Como cualquier thriller, cada x número de páginas todo apunta hacia un lado, luego va para el otro, etc. El estilo de la autora es confuso en ocasiones, pero tiene magia para los diálogos y para crear un puzzle que se va construyendo. Ha sido una lectura entretenida y la salvo porque me ha enganchado lo suficiente para mantenerme intrigado, pero vamos… Creo que podría haber sido mucho mejor.

Trigger warning: tramas sobre suicidio, muertes violentas y filtraciones de nubes.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
July 13, 2018
Ever since I read One of Us is Lying, I’ve been looking for another YA suspenseful read and this one fit the bill.

Going in I figured out the culprit but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit, I really had a good time with this book. The characters are compelling and complex. There is LBGTQ representation and lots of boarding school drama and murder to keep things interesting.

The story takes places (mostly) in a boarding school and it is told from the point of view of one character. You might enjoy this book if you liked One of Us is Lying or We Were Liars.

Overall, this book was entertaining and fun (in a murderous sort of way), I recommend it to readers of YA, thrillers, and contemporary fiction.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,070 followers
May 6, 2018
as someone who is thoroughly afraid but also in awe of thrillers, THIS IS SO GOOD

like I kind of guessed the murderer? but then I also had other suspects as well? and then add to the boarding school aesthetic + mean girls + character arc + queer girls and this was AMAZING
Profile Image for Era ➴.
217 reviews560 followers
June 9, 2021
I really liked this one, and I was reading it really intensely. I'm a sucker for dark, private-school-setting murder mysteries (as a private school student, it kinda scares me that there are so many).

There were definitely a few flaws and a bunch of things I had problems with, but the story itself and the premise of this book hooked me immediately.

The plot. This is a YA murder mystery set in an all-girls private school. Everyone thought the death was a suicide. Then the protagonist, Kay, is targeted by the dead girl, who is blackmailing her with her knowledge of Kay’s past – which Kay has worked for years to bury. From that, you can probably already gather the three words I would use to describe it: dark, intense, and bitchy.

The setting was really interesting for me, because I go to a private school (not a boarding school though – I wish). Bates Academy, however, is nothing like my school. At Bates, all the girls are extremely rich – Gucci dresses are everyday wear, and custom handmade designer tennis whites are literally social expectations. That's entitled. But I have to admit I'm jealous because I HATE my school's uniform.

Unlike these girls, though, Kay is poor – her parents live in a small, rundown house in the suburbs and can barely afford the bills. Kay has to resort to relying on her soccer scholarship and borrowing her friends’ clothes for parties.

Despite this, Kay has managed to accumulate a friend group of the most powerful girls at Bates – the Mean Girls of boarding school, essentially. They’re all academic, excelling in their respective fields and electives; they’re athletic, trumping every sports tournament that comes their way; they’re hot and wild, crushing every party they attend.

This pretty, bitchy world shatters when, on their way to go skinny-dipping on Halloween (their post-costume-party tradition), Kay and her friends find a body floating in the lake. Then, Kay receives an email from the dead girl, Jessica Lane – demanding that Kay exact revenge from beyond the grave. Or Kay’s past and secrets will be exposed to everyone.

Fun, right?

The characters were all so much fun to read – although they weren’t exactly the nicest people, if you know what I mean. Scratch that, they were almost all nasty. They had their reasons, mostly, but still. Nasty.

[Nola] “Is there something you did to her? Maybe something you've forgotten? Something you didn't even think twice about? Anything?”
[Kay] “None of us ever spoke to her before she turned up dead. She was a nobody.”
[Nola] "Maybe that's what you did. No one wants to be a nobody.”

Kay – the protagonist. She has skeletons in her closet and some bad experiences with death and police investigation, both of which occur again when she and her friends find Jessica. She’s kind of...I don't want to say fake, but she's definitely got on a mask in her own way, with the way she acts better than everyone else despite knowing that she’s so much poorer than they are. Her emotions are tangled, her goals are set, and she’s rebuilt her life from the horrifying pit it used to be. Her perspective is trippy, because of the flashbacks and her own teenage-girl mind.

“I don't want to fall back into that wild spinning nothingness again. Because once you're in it, there are no footholds. It takes something extraordinary, a cosmic alignment of divine proportions, to pull you out.”

Bree – Kay’s closest friend in the group. She is the most understanding and moral-minded of them all, and she wants to be a lawyer. She and Kay have been at an impasse of sorts, as Bree used to want Kay, Kay wants Bree, and they’re both dating other people and hurting each other and basically being confused crushing teenage girls.

“Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.”

(Yes, that’s Bree’s motto.)

Nola – the "weird emo girl" who generally flew under the radar at Bates, unless targeted by Kay’s group. Kay enlists her help in figuring out Jessica’s email and revenge, as Nola is good at hacking and spying. Nola is unapologetically weird and is not accepted by the majority of Bates. She’s the definition of outcast, and her personality is odd; yet somehow, she becomes one of the only people, if not the only person, that Kay trusts in her investigation.

This was so intense to read – the tangled romance, suspicious death, and deceiving characters were so unique and exciting. I was up till one AM reading (well, I’m usually up till one anyway, but I’m usually just lying there staring at nothing).

I’m not a murder-and-suspense kind of girl – more like magic-and-epic-battles (*loud coughing* Sarah J. Maas *loud coughing*).

Yeah, I know. I need to get over SJM.

But seriously, reading this was stressful and it makes me kind of mad that it’s not a very popular book. It deserves to be made into a movie or TV series. I can’t say it’s a favorite book, but I’m definitely going to revisit it. Soon.

It reminded me a bit of Thirteen Reasons Why, with the death investigation and the revenge blog, but they’re very different concepts. This one was more of a thriller, and believe me it was wild.

I think the main thing that was wrong with it was the characters and their actions. Anyone who has read this will agree with me when I question Kay’s actions regarding her past. Girl why would you do that. WHY WOULD YOU EVEN CONSIDER DOING THAT.

Okay I guess she was in a fragile mental state at that point, but still. I hated that reveal and I thought it was a major flaw that it was written in so casually the way it was. I don't think Kay was justified at all.

I think the main flaw with this was the characters’ actions in general. They were, in some cases, so morally twisted and so horrifying that I couldn’t process how they could have done it. And even the little things, like the petty crimes committed by half the girls, were blown over and disregarded like they weren’t worth it.

And yes, I know that’s not really something to judge the book based on. But it was really twisted, and that kind of aspect just threw me off personally. They shouldn't have been written over the way they were - or worse, justified. I feel like a lot of these kinds of books tend to say "but they're wild rich teenagers, they don't really have any rules to follow!" No. I don't care that a small percentage of kids my age act like this. Most of us don't, and it's wrong to justify it.

And then there was the hierarchy type mindset, in which the girls were furious over having to do anything “ordinary” like public school or not wanting to wear a specific color of Balenciaga jacket. That was low.

Overall, would I recommend this? Definitely, but it depends on your personal reading preferences. If you like mystery or suspense, or you want to try out the genre, I would definitely say go. I really enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,781 followers
March 16, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“We should definitely be nicer to people. You should think about that.”

“Nice is subjective.”

If your reaction to a “Mean Girls” type of story is . . . .

Then we probably shouldn’t be friends. Just kidding. Maybe. Whatever. At minimum you probably don’t want to read this book. I obviously lurrrrvvvvvv mean girls stories so I wanted this as soon as I saw the title and cover. Oh those private school uniforms. You just know all the characters are going to be twats!!!!

The story here is about Kay, or as my brain liked to call her . . . .

And her fellow In Crowd who happen to discover a dead body in the lake near campus. The slit wrists and floating corpse would make one think it was a case of suicide, but when mmmKay receives an e-mail threatening to out her sins of the past unless she follows the instructions contained in a website link, things get a little grey and everyone might be a suspect.

At some point this was popping up for me (even though I already had the sucka on hold at the library) as a “Recommended To You” selection because I enjoyed One Of Us Is Lying. Much to my surprise, that comparison isn’t half bad, actually. I really did have a fun time with both books. Lying due to The Breakfast Club similarities and People Like Us for the beat to death aforementioned Mean Girls. I’m telling you, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of these little bitches. Especially the rich ones. Oh how they go from this . . . .

To this . . . .

In a nanosecond.

Once again I did know what was going on way early: DO NOT CLICK IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILED!!!!!

Even the old superbadawful stuff that was going to come back to life wasn’t a shocker . . . .

That one ended up being not quite as bad as my demented mind I thought it would be since this was a YA story.

The good news was it didn’t even matter because I was having such a good time . . . .

“So. Are we finally going to trust each other?”

“Trust is a strong word.”

“Fair enough. We’ll keep things casual with a side of paranoia.”

4 Stars. Until next time . . . .

Profile Image for Tory.
1,289 reviews35 followers
October 6, 2017
SOOOOOO BAAAAAAD. Yet another bizarro teen drama where some crazy murder plot is all because of a STUPID HARMLESS PRANK. WHY are the kids taking this into their own hands. WHY are there 500 characters. WHY is everyone a one-dimensional bitch and/or asshole. WHY IS THIS SO BAD.

-Everyone goes from being acquaintances/perfect strangers to do-or-die BFFs in like a hot minute. "hello dude I've never met before right now, please let's go get coffee and you can tell me all about your dead girlfriend."
-"How did you know it was actually a BLADE she killed herself with? It could've been glass or a chunk of plastic." Bitch, someone slices their wrists open, I'm gonna assume blade, wbu? That's not me mysteriously knowing pertinent information in a murder investigation -- that's just deductive reasoning.
-Apparently fully half of the student body at this girls' school is either gay or bi.
-The whole deep dark Dear Valentine secret was that you sent someone a rib bone from the dining hall and a candy brain? Um. 'Kay.
-When the whole school is vandalizing your dorm room and blowing up your Facebook and all your housemother says about it is "I'm busy"? Ain't no adult going to take any responsibility here?
-They traced the label on a bottle of alcohol...back to his dad's credit card?? That's -- that's not how any of this works!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
February 14, 2018
It’s the sort of thing that bugs you after someone dies. You remember little ways you wronged them. Even if they deserved it.

This is exactly what I wanted it to be. Different books popped into my mind while reading..among them: Dangerous Girls, Pretty Little Liars, Allegedly. These have always been my favorite kind of YA books. I can't help it. I live for a thriller. And there is just something about murder mysteries and mean girls that go hand in hand. It just works. Fill them with twists and unlikable characters...I am here for it.

Kay Donovan reinvented herself when she came to Bates Academy, an all-girls boarding school. She left everything from before behind. No one has to ever know about how she lost her best friend and brother. Kay became the cool, mean girl who everyone wants to be friends with. She's captain of the soccer team and ringleader of her friend group - the type of group that thinks they're funny coming up with witty insults about everyone around them and doesn't think about how anything makes other people feel.
“I can’t believe she hurt you that bad and you never said anything.”

Well, the story starts with a tradition..skinny dipping in the lake after the Skeleton Dance. Only it doesn't go as it usually does. Kay's best friend Brie jumps in first only to discover a body. If only they knew this was only the beginning...

The next day, an email shows up in Kay's inbox from the dead girl. It is blackmail. If Kay doesn't complete each item on a list, her secret & proof of her crime will be sent to her parents, the police and every student at Bates. What's interesting is the list just leads to more secrets and lies and puts Kay in a position to hurt her friends.

And a whole string of secrets and investigating and hookups ensues. Something I really loved is how there wasn't just one mystery to the story. There is who killed Jessica, of course. But also, who is blackmailing Kay? What is the secret Kay has about what she did in the past? & I accumulated a few other mini-mysteries as they were introduced, but mentioning here would be pure spoilers. I enjoyed figuring out all the bits and pieces along the way. I also really liked figuring out the dynamics of Kay's friend group with Tai, Tricia, Maddy, Brie and Cori. There's something about female friendships that can be so twisted and messed up, but still completely fascinating and even relatable. I enjoyed the psychology of it all.
Does someone who does one bad thing, even one really bad thing, deserve bad things to happen to them? Deserve to be murdered or framed for murder?

Oh and did I mention that most characters in the novel appear to be sexually fluid. It's not explicitly discussed with labels, which I am 100% on board for and wish more books would take note. It's normalized and no one is bothered by what gender you're having sex with or want to have sex with. It just is.

I can't go without mentioning that I was super annoyed for the Game of Thrones spoilers. Thanks. Because I have been saving the show for an epic binge later & I dodge spoilers like a boss. But it's a bit difficult when you put them IN A BOOK that has nothing to do with GOT, by the way.

There were a couple minor plot-holes in question that weren't actually that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. (Do not click the spoiler tag or you're asking for spoilers. This should be read AFTER finishing the book). I did however want elaboration on Even if you figure out some things along the way, it's still a fun, wild ride. I put together the who, but couldn't for the life of me figure out the why leaving me still thinking it could be other people too. Oh, and I really liked that extra final reveal.

The writing is sharp and beautiful. I actually tried to take my time to appreciate the gorgeous descriptions among the binge-worthy mystery. It's official: Dana Mele is on my radar.

I can already foresee the Riverdale and Thirteen Reasons Why comparisons on top of the YA books I mentioned above, but honestly this hit that sweet spot for me. If you enjoy any of the aforementioned shows or book, or just love a good YA mystery, this isn't one to miss.
Profile Image for Dana Mele.
Author 5 books382 followers
September 29, 2020
Hello. I'm Dana Mele, the author of People Like Us. I'm late to the game, but I wanted to add a trigger/content warning for the book. People Like Us references death of people, death of a cat, suicide, cyber and in person bullying. As always, there may be other triggers for other readers, and I'm happy to add to this. I'd be grateful to anyone who felt like bumping this up. <3
Profile Image for Kathryn.
169 reviews292 followers
July 13, 2018
People trust people who are like them.

People Like Us by Dana Mele….oh, what to say about this book that could ever do it justice?! Seriously, words fail me. I just fucking LOVE this novel. LOVE. IT. Like buy-every-copy-available-and-force-all-my-friends-to-read-it LOVE. Can my review just end here? No? Well, I guess I should tell you what it’s about….

Actually, the premise isn’t my fave. There’s my one criticism about this book. The blurb just doesn’t fully convey the story’s brilliance. But here you go, the premise as written on the inner flap: Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she's reinvented herself entirely. Now she's a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl's body is found in the lake, Kay's carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay's finally backed into a corner, she'll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make...not something that happened.

So People Like Us sounds like a Pretty Little Liars knockoff. It’s not. Well, it is if Pretty Little Liars were written by Donna Tartt or Tana French. Basically, it’s what Pretty Little Liars *should* have been. A snarky, spot-on commentary of adolescence in the internet age. The computer-coded scavenger hunt is actually a revenge website set-up by the dead girl to take down Kay’s inner circle. Like a cyber-version of A. Kay is forced to reveal her friend’s most intimate details or her own secret shame will be revealed. To the entire school. Essentially, it’s kill or be killed and Kay’s a born predator.

Now, you may say that the above description may sound like standard mystery fare. But oh, how wrong you would be. People Like Us is so much more than a mystery. It’s more than just another Mean Girls redux. It’s a savage dissection of high school in the 21st century. Of what it’s like to be a teenager when your entire life can be dismantled by the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger. People Like Us is just…. GENIUS. Dialogue is razor sharp, characters exquisitely crafted, writing on point. But what makes People Like Us so much better than the average bear are the universal truths it exposes:

Hands are the biggest obstacle. There’s nothing for them to do. It was the hardest part of picking up soccer. My reflex was to grab at the ball, protect my face, flail. Hands are too much a part of us. They give us away.

People Like Us reaches into the recesses of your brain, picks out your innermost thoughts, and records them for posterity. The musings that are so accurate to life, but never verbalized. Because of this, the elite prep school setting and Gucci-clad characters, become relatable. A feat that many books with similarly exclusive surroundings fail to do.

There are self-preserving lies and there are anesthetic lies.

Characters are further made accessible by their complexity. Stereotypical villains are rendered sympathetic. “Nice” characters aren’t always so nice. Sexuality is fluid. In other words, People Like Us features HUMANS. People with foibles, quirks, and intricacies. Teenagers in all their bright, shiny hormone-laden glory. And those characters elevate People Like Us from Pretty Little Liars knock-off to perhaps one of the best books written about teenagers this decade.

Summary: If you haven’t already surmised: READ. THIS. BOOK. But give yourself a good window of time because you won’t want to put it down. Actually you won’t be able to. It’s that compelling.
Profile Image for Melanie (TBR and Beyond).
513 reviews367 followers
August 2, 2018
Wow, I just rated a YA thriller five stars! This was fantastic!

Even though Dana is visiting my book group later this month, this is 100% my honest opinion. This was fun! This is what I wanted One of Us is Lyingto be. Give me more of this in the YA thriller/mystery genre.

Although I've read many thrillers/horror/mystery in the YA category - I've also bitched and moaned about how little the categories have to offer in YA. I've been clinging to hope that we'll start getting solid entries and we've slowly started to get some I believe and this book is no exception. I was sold almost from the minute I started. I found myself constantly shocked at all these girls behavior, but in the best way possible. Our main character Kay is one of the more popular girls - she isn't a nice person by any stretch of the imagination and she is perfectly ok with that. When Kay and her group of friends find a dead girl while partying, things get crazy FAST.

I'm going to be really vague with this review because this is one where you want all the twists and turns to be revealed as you're reading. I mean what would be the point otherwise? My favorite thing about this book is that there are no red herrings, everyone was suspect but for actual legitimate reasons. All these girls have done very questionable things that would get them on that suspect list. No one is accused for no good reason. Also, all the characters get developed - they aren't one-dimensional but they aren't exactly likeable most of the time either. It's very well put together. I did guess the ending but it didn't take any enjoyment away - I wanted to see it all play out. It also took me at least halfway to even begin to have a clue what was going on. Usually within the first few chapters I have it all figured out.

I would highly recommend this book if you want a great binge read. Go read it now! Tell me what you thought!
Profile Image for Amelia.
173 reviews49 followers
July 4, 2018
This book was so hard to put down!!

It is one of those books where you get hooked in on the first chapter and all you want to do is continue reading it just to find out what happens next.

Something I love about it was the range of diverse characters. We have characters who are from the lgbtq+ community and characters of different ethnicity. A lot of YA books don't have this representation so it was good to see this.

I also liked seeing the bullying aspect of students lives and seeing some of the effects bullying can have on people. This doesn't get spoken about in most YA books so I loved seeing this story be told to young readers.

Highly recommend this enjoyable read!
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,740 reviews712 followers
January 25, 2018
That cover and the synopsis were like a dream come true. Boarding school murdery scavenger hunt? Count me in. Sadly it was meh.

Kay was okay? And yes that’s a question. She did have some redeeming qualities and mostly it was that she’s ambitious. Yet as the story progressed, she became the sort of character I struggle with. I didn’t like the choices she made or the way she treated people. There are a lot of other characters, but it didn’t feel like we got to know them. Perhaps it was a way to show how closed off Kay really was.

Plot wise it was boooooooooring. Even when things started happening, nothing really happened. And when it came to the reveal and reason for all things, it was a let down and dare I say, stupid.

Overall, it was an awesome idea. I loved the creativity of the website and poetry. And the gay/bisexual rep was nice to see {even if some of these characters acted like sociopaths}. Ultimately, the story lacked tension and a sense of urgency that I was expecting.

**Huge thanks to GP Putnam’s Sons for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
395 reviews696 followers
January 22, 2020
This, I feel, is what happens when author takes the whole “everybody has a secret” thing too literally. Of course it is possible but is it likely?

I think sometimes authors can get too determined then easily forget that possibility is not = plausibility. And then their carefully planned “secrets” turn into something almost laughable because of their own too well thought out-ness...
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
876 reviews3,754 followers
April 26, 2018
*A copy of the print book was provided to me by the publisher without a review obligation. I listened to the audio format instead and all opinions are my own.*

I predicted a big element of the mystery but still enjoyed this! I was never bored. I enjoyed the pacing, atmosphere, and the main character's arc. Loved the revenge blog/scavenger hunt aspect. A pretty solid mystery, would recommend.

Didn't hear anything about the representation before picking this up so I want to point out that the main character is bi (probably, labels aren't used) and there are two wlw side characters as well.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,499 followers
December 3, 2017
This was a motherfluffin' WHIRLWIND. I would've happily taken it a hundred pages longer and some of the stuff slowed down and explored, but like, I wanted a gay Mean Girls book and this delivered. There's something to the comps to Pretty Little Liars and 13 Reasons Why in an obvious way, but for those who are really into these kind of books and looking for less generic ones, I'd say this is for the more Abigail Haas/Stephanie Kuehn corner of psych thriller fandom, aka my favorite corner. *pets ARC* *thanks publisher for it*
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
309 reviews1,453 followers
April 6, 2018
I really liked this one! I had an inkling about who the killer was near the beginning of the book, but I did not expect the reasoning behind it at all! I also didn't suspect how fucked up Kay's secret was.

While I did enjoy People Like Us , it wasn't a 5-star book for me. I loved the mystery and the twists, but I just didn't really care about the characters that much. Nothing about them stood out to me, and some seemed like they'd play a bigger part and then were never heard from again.

All in all, though, I was pleasantly surprised by this book.
Profile Image for Dennis.
816 reviews1,616 followers
March 5, 2018
Before I begin my review, I'd like to place a disclaimer for everyone who's reading this: Just because I was not a fan of People Like Us, it doesn't mean that you should be deterred from picking this up. This read is a contemporary, sexually liberating read for the LBGTQ community, and is actually quite fun!

People Like Us centers around a group of teenage women at elite prep-school The Bates Academy; Katie (aka Kay) Donovan, Brie, Maddy, and Tai. These socially prestigious women are the IT crowd at school and know it. The group of girls are star athletes and have the other student body envious of their lives. However, a fellow student's body has been found at a nearby lake, leaving the school and these young women shaken. The victim actually leads Kay on a wild computer-coded scavenger hunt posthumously, keeping Kay and the group on their toes. All signs point to murder—but who's the culprit?

If you enjoyed One of Us is Lying and are looking for a book that speaks freely about sexual fluidity, People Like Us is a good book to add to your TBR list. The mystery at hand is very easy to figure out—I knew immediately what was going to happen and the who, what, where, when, and why's. More than anything, the main reason for my negative review was the lack of characterization placed on the main characters. Kay's friends Brie, Maddy, Tai, etc., are all interchangeable. Nobody stands out and nobody is actually interesting enough to remember. While the story was unique and somewhat interesting, I didn't really care about any of the characters in any capacity. It just wasn't a fit for me, but if you are looking for a light mystery and are interested in comparing this to some blockbuster contemporary YA reads, then pick it up! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

March 6, 2018
Many thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing me with an ARC for the People Like Us Blog Tour. I appreciate this opportunity and all opinions expressed are my own.

Wow, what a fantastic psychological thriller that is hands down a five star read! Dana Mele brings drama, mystery and revenge to the table in a fashion that will have you begging for more! Going into this book, I was a little hesitant because I thought this would be just another Pretty Little Liars. I was so wrong! This story had a lot of LGBTQ representation that I just LOVED! The main character(Kay) was bisexual. Kay's best friend Brie was a lesbian and there was plenty of other characters that were part of the LGBTQ community. As a pansexual woman, I was over the moon about this and I became deeply invested in the characters. I found myself flipping pages as fast as possible while rooting for Kay. Kay started off as another mean girl but as you read this story you start to see who Kay is underneath all the layers that she hides herself in. As the reader, you see a remarkable change in Kay that left me no choice but to love her.

The plot of this story was fast paced but descriptive. Sometimes it was brutally descriptive. People Like Us shows you the vicious world of overprivileged young girls who are just plain bullies. I loved the characterization, the plot, and everything about this story. Dana Mele created one intense work of art that quickly rose to one of my top favorite books of all time! If you would love a fun teen drama with a chilling murder mystery, look no further because People Like Us is the book for you!!!
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
May 14, 2019

The plot is just as good as any YA psychological-thriller’s especially because it seems set on punishing the mean girls. It makes you think hard about who the murderer is, their motives, their profile and it makes you go suspecting every other character in the story.

The clues in the form of playful poetry are also very clever and make you think even more. It’s quite sinister that the suspect is most likely a student, a victim of these mean girls in the very same boarding school.

I just find the whole thing lacking in emotion and it’s probably why I couldn’t connect much to the characters in the story. I guess being in a boarding school makes these girls such toughies showing little to no emotion at all.

But for a YA novel under its genre, it’s still clearly worth a read, still entertaining and thought provoking and generally still very well-written. I think it would make up for a really good movie, a dark but important reminder of the repercussions of being mean.
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
2,140 reviews581 followers
March 19, 2018
A bit disappointed with this one... it reminded me of Pretty Little Liars but I didnt like any of them. The story was clever there was just something about it that fell short for me. great narrator.
Profile Image for Rachel Solomon.
Author 11 books6,355 followers
April 21, 2017
Beneath the silvery moonlight, our skin gleams like bones.

From that gorgeous first line, I was hooked. The blurb from the deal announcement just doesn't do it justice. PEOPLE LIKE US is a seductive psychological thriller with beautiful literary writing and an unreliable narrator. It takes place in an all-girls private school -- oh, and it's super queer. There might be more queer characters than non, AND I LOVED IT.

This book is about cutthroat ambitious girls and secrets that won't stay in the past. It's about what we sacrifice for the sake of our own self-preservation. It's about the blurred line between friendship and more-than-friendship, and the pure agony of being trapped there.

I'll have chills for a long time.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,475 followers
December 9, 2019
Isolated private school settings and the privileged young people who reside there will never fail to intrigue me and People Like Us was no exception. This focuses on Kay Donovon and her posse of elite inner-circle friends. They are the popular, mean girls who run the social circle of their school. But all that was put in jeopardy when they absconded from a school dance for a drunken sea swim and found more than salt water when they get there.

The body of a girl was there to greet them. She went to their school but she was not one of them. She was, however, the figure that unknowingly bound them with an increasingly large group of individuals they have affected with their words and their actions. Now, one dead girl later, someone wants them to pay for it.

This begun in a terrifying fashion and continued in a thoroughly perplexing one, in the best way possible. I was fascinated to discern the vengeance plan that was set for this friendship group and if Kay could figure out who the culprit was, and how to stop them, before their lives were forever ruined. There was also a poignant back-story that added depth to the narrative and emotions I had not anticipated confronting.

The characters of this novel, however, felt quite the opposite. Many existed on only one level and failed to feel authentic. They became more of a prop for the story-line and stood for only one thing, typically their 'sin' in the story-line.

This, combined with the unbelievable nature of the events that unfolded, did not mar my enjoyment but also did not allow the story to penetrate further than becoming more than a fun read (for the most part) when an overall deeper message could have been ultimately delivered. I remained intrigued throughout and the suspense and action led me through this at break-neck speed so would still definitely recommend this to deliver the reader with a god time.
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
480 reviews364 followers
October 29, 2018
DNF at 10%- maybe it was the narrator (I tried an audio format) but I just couldn't get into this book. The main character keeps talking and talking but I am not interested in what's happening next.
Sadly not finishing.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
June 10, 2019
People Like Us is a sapphic murder mystery set in a boarding school.
I feel like I should rate this book higher - I almost read it in one sitting, it was addictive and suspenseful, just what I wanted. And yes, three stars is a positive rating for me, but I didn't have any major problems with this book. I just have a very long list of things that annoyed me.

What I liked
• I wanted something to read quickly, and I couldn't put this down.
• Every character was morally gray and hiding something.
• the side characters were very well-written. Kay's ex boyfriend cheated on her but he's still portrayed as a multilayered person; Brie's and Kay's friendship was far from perfect but not abusive; the relationship dynamics were complex and messed up.
• for a contemporary book, there was almost no homophobia, and to say that every girl was queer wouldn't necessarily be inaccurate. There's no romance, but was it gay.
• I didn't guess the ending during the first chapters (yes, I had low expectations)
some parts were kind of creepy and I love creepy when it fits the story. Here, it did.
• The writing wasn't bad
• It did not end like . The ending was flawed, but I didn't feel cheated by the narration.

What I did not like
• Kay Donovan is a girl with a dark, mysterious past and the personality of a drying puddle.
• Kay is nothing but her dark past, at the end of the story I realized I actually didn't know her at all and none of the revelations could shock me because she was still a stranger.

• Also, I'm not that interested in stories about bullies who suffer so much because people are angry at them now, especially when .
I guessed the ending. Not immediately, but before the actual reveal.

• The fat-shaming in the Tricia part. Was it necessary? Why introduce things like that and not deal with them at all...?
• No one uses label, which is an interesting choice, but if you choose not to use them, then don't. The word "lesbian" appears only one time in this book, and it's used as an insult. I didn't like this.
• ...too many Shakespeare references.

Also, don't get into this if you want any realism because there's none (...it almost felt like a paranormal story). I won't nitpick and say "this and that were unrealistic!" because nothing here felt even remotely real. I didn't have a problem with this, but I think it's better to know it before getting into the book.

Trigger warnings I haven't listed yet because I didn't think they were flaws: suicide, death, animal harm, animal death.
Profile Image for Magdalena Deniz.
78 reviews
June 10, 2018
You know when you read a deep, truly original murder mystery book that really makes you think??

neither do I.

Especially with this one. God. Everything was so cliche and unrealistic. These are teen girls, but then don’t act like teen girls. Teen girls don’t kill two people because of one stupid prank in freshman year. I get it, psychopaths are weird and different, but psychopaths are also geniuses and manipulative and cunning and everything that should INTEREST me, not bratty freaks who make me want to claw my eyes out.

one thing though, is that the writing in this book was definitely beautiful. But honestly, beautiful writing can only get you so far. I wish I had more realistic reactions (when you find a dead body and you’re 17, you don’t just immediately start rationalizing your thoughts. hello?!! it’s a dead fucking body!!!!) and a much less cliche plot.

Also, I live for gay characters as a bi woman, but when you’re representing all the gay/bisexual women in your book as cheating, horrible people and psychopathic killers, that’s bad representation, and honestly, did NOT flow well for me.
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