How We Fall Apart by. Katie Zhao | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 Stars

Title: How We Fall Apart

Author: Katie Zhao

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 8/17/21

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Dark Academia, Prep School

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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.

How We Fall Apart is a look into Asian students at Sinclair Prep, trying to stay on top of the pack with perfect grades. When top girl Jamie Ruan is found dead, someone accuses her closest four friends of committing the crime. But who really killed Jamie and why?

This story is told by Jamie’s best friend/nemesis, Nancy Luo. Nancy isn’t rich like her other friends. Her mom was the maid for the Ruan family so Nancy always envied Jamie’s power and wealth – but was that enough to be a motive for her to kill her? I liked how we didn’t really know who could be the killer. “The Proctor” is dishing out secrets on Jamie’s best friends and the secrets are juicy and scandalous – Nancy’s being the worst, I think.

I think we get a good glimpse of the issues between Asian students – rich and poor, the competition, the pressure to succeed that is put upon them by their families. There was also the issues of Asian students dealing with their peers who are not Asian, who had prejudices against them because of their race – like automatically being “smart” because they were Asian. I liked how Nancy felt anger about that, knowing how hard her parents worked to put her through school.

I liked the second half of the book more than the first because the secrets were being revealed and the story moved faster. There’s a twist at the end that explain this Incident that Nancy and her friends keep mentioning but never goes into detail about and it was nice to finally know what happened during that event. It wasn’t what I expected which was good.

Trigger: suicide, murder, drug use, bullying, teacher/student affair, abuse, mental illness

I wasn’t connecting to any of the characters until the second part of the book. I found Jamie the typical rich girl bully who gets her way, Nancy is her shadow. Akil, Krystal and Alexander were there to round it out but this story is mostly about Jamie and Nancy. I think I wanted more from Nancy, but that really doesn’t come into play until the last few pages. So for most of the story she was a bit lackluster to me.

The ending is left open for a book two. Is this where Nancy really reveals her personality? That would be intriguing. It did make me curious about what The Golden Trio did that Alex knows about.

The teacher/student affair was a no for me. I get it was deliciously scandalous though, Nancy’s secrets were the most dangerous ones. But Peter needs to be taken down.

I think this book will appeal to a lot of people who like dark academia with all the scandals taking place at Sinclair Prep, it definitely is a story that keeps you on your toes. I did like how it addressed some issues that Asian students deal with in a prep school setting, the crazy pressure and competitiveness they experience on unhealthy levels. We get a glimpse of all the darkness that comes with trying to stay on top like abuse, drug use, and parental neglect. It just shows money can’t buy everything. I do wish it had a little more intensity because it’s a thriller and I did want more from Nancy as well. But overall it was a quick read with an interesting twist at the end and a lead up for book two.

📚 ~ Yolanda


2 thoughts on “How We Fall Apart by. Katie Zhao | ARC Review

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