You Better Watch Out by Sarah Naughton
Published: October 12th 2023 by Scholastic
Rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Genres: Young Adult // Thriller, Mystery, Festive
Quick Thoughts: With twists you won’t see coming and a haunting vibe that lingers long after the last page was turned, it had everything you want in a YA Thriller and more.
I was gifted this book via the Publisher and will give it a fair and unbiased review. There was no obligation to post/give this book a certain rating. I remain entirely impartial.
About This Book:
He’s making a list.
It’s Christmastime at Elsinore House School, and what better way for class 11S to get into the festive spirit than with a Secret Santa? Sixteen-year-old ELERI isn’t the most outgoing or popular girl in school, so when a gift is left for her each day in the abandoned tower block opposite her house, she can’t help but be flattered. It’s certainly a welcome distraction from a difficult home life and the trauma of last Christmas, when NINA, the new girl and Eleri’s Secret Santa giftee, went missing.
But who could be her Secret Santa? And why go through the effort of giving her a whole advent calendar’s worth of gifts? Fingers crossed it’s the handsome and enigmatic bad boy RAS, whom Eleri was flirting with last Christmas and on whom she still has a massive crush … Eleri’s friends are, however, less convinced: Ras seems unruly and unstable. And why store the gifts in a creepy and dilapidated old tower block?
As the countdown to Christmas continues, the gifts themselves take on an increasingly dark and dangerous nature. What initially seemed like a harmless bit of festive fun might just turn out to be a sick joke, or something entirely more sinister… With time running out, Eleri starts to wonder: could it, after all, have something to do with the disappearance of Nina last Christmas? And, if so, will Eleri be next?
As much as I adore a fluffy festive read with all the feel-good warmth and glee, my heart has a special place for thrillers, and mixing that with the joy of Christmas? Well, it doesn’t really get better than that, does it? I was so excited to get You Better Watch Out in the mail from the lovely Scholastic team, and even more excited to get underneath the covers and read this all night.
Eleri isn’t overly thrilled at the thought of a class Secret Santa, especially not since last year. The last time she was someones Secret Santa—new girl, Nina—they went missing. But when Eleri’s secret-someone begins leaving her gifts everyday in the abandoned tower block opposite her house that no one dares go near, she can’t help but be flattered, despite the eeriness of the location. She could use the distraction from toxic family life and friendships, and knowing her crush barely notices her, at least.
But as much as Eleri’s friends are dubious about her Secret Santa leaving her an entire advent of gifts, she’s less worried and more thrilled at the thought of it being her crush, Ras, but she’s not sure how much that is down to wishful thinking and reading too much into things. Especially not when his behaviour is verging on unstable, agreed by her concerned friends. It’s not until the gifts take a steep turn into dangerous territory that Eleri sees this for what it is: scary. As Christmas fast approaches and the gifts get darker and more sinister, Eleri starts putting the pieces of a strange puzzle together. Does her Secret Santa have anything to do with Nina’s disappearance last year? Who is behind it? And if things keep getting increasingly more horrifying, is she going to be next?
Overall, You Better Watch Out was one of those books you read in a whole setting and have to sit with for a while to really process how intricately smart it was. Far from a Christmas vibe and well into the depths of thrills, it’s perfect for people that aren’t too into the holidays and want a little more violent night than silent night. I had initial trouble getting into the story, but this was swiftly eradicated by the action beginning and rooting myself into the plot. I think it deals with the reality of some toxic friendships in school very believably. With twists you won’t see coming and a haunting vibe that lingers long after the last page was turned, it had everything you want in a YA Thriller and more. I can’t wait to read more from Sarah.
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