Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Pages: 287
Format: Hardback
ARC?: No
MG, YA, ADULT?: Young Adult
TW/CW: Blood, death, gore, abuse, sex (consensual), drug use (by a minor character), sexual abuse (mentions of a minor having a sexual relationship with an adult), trans character having their “legal” name mentioned, heavy violence.
Rep: Biracial MC (Indigenous Hawaiian/ Black), trans (side character)
Rating: 4/5

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

So, I never actually intended to every read a Stephanie Perkins novel. Ever.

When I went to the Southern Festival of Books and saw that Perkins had a panel, I was kind of like, “Yeah, ok, maybe I’ll check that out” since there weren’t any other panels I was interested in. It’s not that I think Perkins is a bad writer… over the top contemporary YA with big sweeping romances just isn’t my thing. I was especially turned off by the cheating in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and just sort of gave up on anything Perkins related.


But then I sat in on her panel and she is charming and engaging and an adorable little gem… that’s also full of spook. It felt like finding a kindred spirit, so I knew I wanted to get her last book and her sign it. Would I ever read it? I mean… maybe. Probably not. But when my friend wanted to buddy read it, I decided to give it a go. A few chapters a day wouldn’t kill me, right?

I finished the book in one day.

My friend is so mad.

I’ve seen a lot of negative things about this book but I absolutely adored it. In all honesty, I think you have to be a fan of cheesy, B-movie slasher films to truly appreciate just how good this book is. This isn’t meant to be a psychological thriller. It’s not to be some grand mystery. This is Cherry Falls meets I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I was really impressed with the killer’s “tell”. If you don’t know what a tell is, think of every slasher movie you’ve ever seen. How do you know when the killer is just around the corner? Some movies use music. Some movies go silent. Perkins used a really great tell- things just slightly askew, not quite where the character remembered putting them. That’s pretty genius. Not only does it confuse the character, but it gives the reader a heart stopping “heads up” that… well, someone’s about to die. It also makes us paranoid! How many of us have sworn the cup of water was JUST RIGHT THERE but now it’s not? Now I have to think “Did I actually put it somewhere else… or am I about to get whacked…”

There have been lots of complaints that there isn’t much of a plot and… I mean, I agree. I think most slasher films don’t have a plot either. Sometimes just staying alive in the midst of a tragedy is a good enough plot. Perkins isn’t claiming to be Stephen King- she wanted to write a campy slasher book and she got it right. The other complaints I’ve seen are that there was too much romance and not enough murder. In 287, we see 3 teenagers get murdered and 5 others be brutally assaulted. That’s an average of 1 stabbing every 35 pages. Y’all. As for the romance, it’s not overdone. Every slasher film has a romantic element to it… it kinda makes you root a little harder for the young lovers to survive.

I also want to address some of the issues around Darby’s character. I am not trans so this is definitely not my lane and I am open to linking reviews done by trans people that talk about Darby. Before I read this, I knew there was some controversy surrounding Perkins using Darby’s deadname. In the book, the MC is talking about her friends and she mentions that Darby’s legal name is still Justine Darby but that he goes by Darby. My friend who is reading the book with me (Or, well, was… I’m so sorry, Seth, I can’t help that I read it that fast) is trans and saw no problem with the passage. I have other trans friends who saw problems with it. I have other other trans friends who said that it wasn’t the best way to handle it but it wasn’t exactly problematic. I think it goes back to the point that we aren’t a monolith and there’s no 100% right way to handle every character. Another thing people were upset with was the fact that Grandma Young doesn’t allow Ollie into Makani’s room but has allowed Darby in her room in the past. The feeling is that Grandma Young is misgendering Darby or still sees him as being female. I feel like it was more poor wording than malicious intent by Perkins. Growing up, I was allowed to have male friends in my room but not boys that my parents thought I was interested in (joke’s on you, parents, you should have been watching the girls). I definitely felt more like “I know you’re interested in this boy so y’all stay down here” than anything else.

This lost a star for me just because I thought revealing the killer half-way through the book was, eh, a little too soon. Perkins made this reveal work, but I still like being surprised at the end. Product of the Scooby-Doo generation, I like my bad guys to have their masks ripped off at the end.

Again, I loved this book! If you’re looking for a little romance, a lot of gore, and some teenagers getting whacked, this one is for you!


Hi, there! I’m Stephanie Perkins, and I’m a New York Times and international bestselling author of books for teenagers and for adults with teenage hearts. I was born in South Carolina, raised in Arizona, and I attended universities in California and Georgia. Since 2004, I’ve lived in the mountains of North Carolina.

I’ve always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, now as a novelist and editor. My best friend is my husband Jarrod. Every room of our house is painted a different color of the rainbow, and we share it with a feisty cat named Mr. Tumnus.

You can find more about Stephanie on her website, instagram, and twitter!




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