Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph

Published by Penguin

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.


Release date: 6th February 2020

This is a serial killer thriller with a difference – Jessica’s mother was the first victim of the Magpie Man, ten years ago. Since then, she’s had no closure and her dad is a shell of the man he was before losing the love of his life.

Today, she’s taking part in a YouTube reality show to try to find help solving this case. There have been 12 more victims in the past decade and there have been no clues or witnesses to the crimes, only a trail of destroyed families who have to find a way to keep on going. She knows that there’s no way for her to move on until she knows who was responsible.

She has a plan in mind for drawing the killer out, which is gradually revealed and doesn’t always work out in ways she expects. This is a good reminder of the fact that she’s only 17 years old and has grown up with no active parental figures, her independence is what makes her such a compelling main character as well as fallible.

What makes this book stand out from other crime thrillers is that it’s a YA novel for the internet age – it has the timeless struggles of being a teenager, a series of murders but also the web series dimension that I had never considered before. The young adults of today intuitively know how to manipulate the internet and online audiences in ways my teenage self wouldn’t have been able to dream of (oh god. I’m old.).

The clue dropping and pacing is excellent, though some of the red herring conclusions were less satisfying. That said, I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed the quirks and modern twist on a somewhat overdone trope.

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