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They'll Never Catch Us

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A thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team--the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they've worked for... until she disappears. Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship A thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team--the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they've worked for... until she disappears. Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life, and she won't let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course. The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers' lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can't help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie's been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong--she's someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she'd never be: distracted. With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won't let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.


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A thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team--the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they've worked for... until she disappears. Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship A thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team--the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they've worked for... until she disappears. Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life, and she won't let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course. The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers' lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can't help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie's been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong--she's someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she'd never be: distracted. With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won't let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

30 review for They'll Never Catch Us

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chloe Gong

    Complicated sister dynamics always get me right in the meow meow.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Storiesandcoffee

    Everyone hates themselves a little. If you get over that, you survive. When I read the synopsis for They'll Never Catch Us, I immediately added it to my summer TBR. Then my friends at Penguin Teen offered me an advanced copy---big, huge thank you to them!---and my excitement for this book only intensified. (Who wouldn't love reading the YA thriller of the summer a little earlier than planned?) So, did it live up to my expectations? Yes...but also kind of no. I really enjoyed this book. The cha Everyone hates themselves a little. If you get over that, you survive. When I read the synopsis for They'll Never Catch Us, I immediately added it to my summer TBR. Then my friends at Penguin Teen offered me an advanced copy---big, huge thank you to them!---and my excitement for this book only intensified. (Who wouldn't love reading the YA thriller of the summer a little earlier than planned?) So, did it live up to my expectations? Yes...but also kind of no. I really enjoyed this book. The chapters were short, so it was one of those books where I'd read a large chunk in one sitting without even realizing it because of the chapter length. There's also enough drama besides the murder mystery to keep the reader invested in multiple storylines. And if you're familiar with my reviews, you know I'm ALL about feminist intellectualism. They'll Never Catch Us has some badass female characters and a strong feminist message...without actually talking about feminism. Goodman sheds light on female sports and competition, female's governing their own bodies, and even the role sisters play in each other's lives---both the good and bad. What I struggled with was the endless talk of cross country. I usually don't struggle reading books about sports I never participated in (okay, I've never really participated in any sports...yay for being totally unathletic!) because I find if there's a healthy balance of sports talk and, well, anything else, the book can hold my attention. But with They'll Never Catch Us, I found myself thinking, "Oh, look, the girls are running somewhere...again," quite often. If cross country is your thing, you'll probably relate to this book more than I could. Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars. Overall, a great YA thriller.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    The latest book from Jessica Goodman, They'll Never Catch Us , is part coming-of-age story and commentary on girls who go after what they want, part satisfying YA thriller. Stella and Ellie are sisters, and both are cross-country runners. Stella is an intense competitor; she knows the only way she can get into an elite college is to get a scholarship. But that intensity and competitiveness doesn’t make her an easy person to be friendly with, and when an incident occurs with a fellow classmate The latest book from Jessica Goodman, They'll Never Catch Us , is part coming-of-age story and commentary on girls who go after what they want, part satisfying YA thriller. Stella and Ellie are sisters, and both are cross-country runners. Stella is an intense competitor; she knows the only way she can get into an elite college is to get a scholarship. But that intensity and competitiveness doesn’t make her an easy person to be friendly with, and when an incident occurs with a fellow classmate at the end of her sophomore year, her fellow students view her as crazy, even violent. Ellie wants to be an elite competitor, too, but she is more laid-back and easier to get along with. She knows her sister is her biggest rival, and they used to be closer than ever, but both have secrets they’re not willing to share. When Mila comes to town, it throws everything into an uproar. Mila was the best runner at her school, and suddenly Stella has to push herself even harder, between overcoming everyone’s perceptions of her, trying to get back the chances she lost following the incident sophomore year, and now she has to beat Mila. Mila sees Stella for who she really is, and Stella starts letting her guard down, even if she’s not sure she can trust anyone. And of course, that wreaks havoc on her competitive spirit. Ellie, too, becomes close with Mila, even revealing a secret that she’s told no one else. When Mila disappears on a run early one morning, the town is quick to blame Stella. But could a serial killer who terrorized the town years ago be back, or is the perpetrator someone closer to home? This was a bit of a slow burn at first but I couldn’t put it down. It’s a family drama, a bit of a mystery, and commentary on the double standard that girls and women face when they’re competitive and go after what they want. I really enjoyed Goodman’s last book, They Wish They Were Us , and They'll Never Catch Us is just as good. Thanks to BookSparks and Razorbill for providing me a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review, as part of #SRC2021!! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kalena W

    4.5/5 stars, a really interesting thriller while also touching on some important topics Thank you Penguin Teen for the arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! "The world breaks little girls. It stomps out our will, our joy, our curiosity - and replaces them with disdain, cynicism, and the need to fit into tiny boxes." (221) I went into this thriller honestly expecting just a basic young adult mystery, one that had the same elements to it so many of my least favorites did. But thi 4.5/5 stars, a really interesting thriller while also touching on some important topics Thank you Penguin Teen for the arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! "The world breaks little girls. It stomps out our will, our joy, our curiosity - and replaces them with disdain, cynicism, and the need to fit into tiny boxes." (221) I went into this thriller honestly expecting just a basic young adult mystery, one that had the same elements to it so many of my least favorites did. But this was actually such an interesting and amazingly well-done thriller. Honestly, the thriller didn't feel like the main plot at times and I was totally okay with that. Filling in the gaps of that was a story that features feminism, realistic characters, and teenage angst that wasn't too over the top. There are lots of trigger warnings in this book (featured at the end of my review) but I don't think anything is handled in a bad way. I've never participated in cross country, and I honestly hate running, but I have participated in sports before and so I wanted to relate to the main characters. The two main sisters, Stella and Ellie are the stars of their small-town's cross country team. But the summer before the book takes place, they are both battling things that they're worried will make them distracted. They are still determined to be the best until new student Mina arrives, who's the best in the state at the very least. Both sisters are drawn to her, through competition and the possibility of friendship, but one day Mina goes on a run and never comes back. Suspicions are immediately held against the Steckler sisters, but things are even more complicated than anyone realized. The setting of the small town is something that I really connected with, as I have lived in a small town my entire life. It's certainly a tight nit community but it's also nowhere close to perfect and I think this book represented that quite nicely. Small towns always seem really creepy for thriller novels and this story was no exception, we were a little set aside from the community with one of the characters but it made total sense. I can't speak on how accurate the cross country team was, I know the team at my high school doesn't go around partying, but I think it was a bit fictionalized. It made the book more exciting so I am okay with a bit more dramatization! The plot of this book is very not black and white, while some parts were very predictable I think ultimately the last twist I didn't see coming at all. The parts that were predictable, I felt were supposed to be that way, considering the impact they had on the story and the message. I wasn't bothered by being able to guess some things, because the plot moved really fast and I felt like I was constantly running with the team to the next chapter. I was super invested based on the elements that the author added. Some of the characters in this book, are NOT likable at all and are intended to be that way. If you cant enjoy characters for being not likable, but being super interesting and complicated, this might not be the book for you. I preferred one Steckler sister over the other, but at times it switched and at the end I really honestly loved both of them. Stella Steckler was the older sister in the story and struggles with her mental health/aggressiveness. This is shown in the very first chapter of the book, so it's not really a spoiler. We learn there is something that happened to her, last summer that caused her to fall into this a bit, but you have to read the story to find out what it is. She was not a likable character for some (mysterious) reasons and that was perfectly fine with me, even when she wasn't I found her to still be interesting. I think readers will be drawn to her because of how real she felt at times, and how she grows. Ellie Steckler was my favorite character from this book, she also felt very realistic and sweet. I think her story was a bit more compelling than Stella's, and so it was easier to empathize with her. She's young and wants someone to appreciate her, as we all did and still do at that age. She's experiencing a toxic relationship at the start of the story, which leads to some of the feminist themes in the story. Her dynamic with the story is great, she always feels like she's important even if it wasn't her pov chapter. Even at the end, I just really felt for her and I think the psychology behind her story is very interesting. Mila was around for quite a while before the thriller aspect picked up and she went missing, and I have to say she was a really good character. I can't say too much surrounding her without spoiling some of the story, but I can say she was inspiring. She was also a very genuine person and brought something to the story that was really needed. The side characters in this book were very vivid and real, I know I have been saying that about all of them but it's just the truth. Some of them felt like just stereotypes or archetypes on the surface, but as the story went on they seemed to grow more. I think acknowledging that a person doesn't just fit into one archetype was a good point of the story. I still dislike some of them, as intended, but I think there were also some important ideas surrounding some of the side characters. Overall this is such a fun ya book, even when it wasn't heavy on the thriller side the entire time. There were a lot of other themes that I saw that I thought were important and especially how they were talked about. This was a super fast-paced book and this makes me want to pick up more ya thrillers, which I didn't think I would say for a long time! [TW: pregnancy, abortion, gore, false accusations, trauma, sexual encounters, toxic relationships, parties, racism, drunk]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Frank Phillips

    This was quite the impressive thriller, especially for a YA! I missed this author's debut, but won't make that same mistake again after thoroughly enjoying this one. I'm always a sucker for a string of unsolved murders, in a small town, but if i'm being completely honest it was the Cross Country theme that especially intrigued me, being a former Allstate high school runner myself, and I almost immediately connected with Stella, our protagonist. Not only did she have that intense tunnel-vision th This was quite the impressive thriller, especially for a YA! I missed this author's debut, but won't make that same mistake again after thoroughly enjoying this one. I'm always a sucker for a string of unsolved murders, in a small town, but if i'm being completely honest it was the Cross Country theme that especially intrigued me, being a former Allstate high school runner myself, and I almost immediately connected with Stella, our protagonist. Not only did she have that intense tunnel-vision that I had at that age, but she was also a member of the LQBTQ+ community, which had me completely empathizing with her as she battled through the everyday hurdles of high school life. I also enjoyed Ellie, her younger sister and the other main protagonist, as well as new girl, Mila. All of the other side characters came across as realistic, especially the incredibly catty and unlikeable Julia. The overall intensity of the competition aspects were very nicely executed, which makes me think this author was most likely a former runner herself. If not, then she did some spectacular research! While I did predict the first part of the 'whodunnit' reveal, the second twist really had me surprised, which is becoming incredibly hard to do, so kudos to Goodman for that! I don't usually read YA thriller on account of me being a wrong target audience, but the writing and overall execution in this novel was right up there with my favorite YA authors Kara Thomas and L. E. Flynn, which is quite the accomplishment! I will definitely keep my eye on this author's forthcoming releases and would recommend this one to my fellow suspense/thriller fanatics!

  6. 4 out of 5

    ✧・゚⁽⁽ଘ Shreya ଓ⁾⁾✧・゚

    ~Thank you Penguin Publishing and Edelweiss for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review!~ My rating: 3.7(rounded up to 4) What I liked: The writing style I liked Jessica Goodman's writing style for how it flowed nicely but was also powerful. It was really well done and made the book a lot better. My only problem with the style though, was sometimes how the flashbacks were set up. I liked the flashbacks, but I felt like they were abrupt at times and could have blended a bit better with ~Thank you Penguin Publishing and Edelweiss for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review!~ My rating: 3.7(rounded up to 4) What I liked: The writing style I liked Jessica Goodman's writing style for how it flowed nicely but was also powerful. It was really well done and made the book a lot better. My only problem with the style though, was sometimes how the flashbacks were set up. I liked the flashbacks, but I felt like they were abrupt at times and could have blended a bit better with the present moment. The sister relationship between Stella and Ellie The characters on their own were complex and life-like, but I especially liked reading about Stella and Ellie together. How they fought when they were kids and still fight now but they're still there for each other. I don't have a sister myself, but it seemed very realistic and very real to me. The themes discusses throughout The themes of teamwork and friendship were really awesome but what really stood out to me was the theme of feminism in it and how even without saying the word feminist the book still had those themes. "'You girl are all the same.' I kept my mouth shut but I knew what he meant. 'You girls'. The obsessive ones. The focused one. The ones who have enough grit and determination to break things and crush people and rip worlds apart. The one who call bullshit when things aren't fair. The ones who speak up and demand better. The ones who don't fit into neat little boxes." "I learned that young in kindergarten, when the other kids called Stella a show-off for raising her hand during class, or when the boys in first grade said I was bossy for leading a reading circle. When Stella and I would overhear the other moms at the Elite Youth Runners Club: 'The Steckler sisters are just a little much'. That's how we were described while the boys were sprinting around the playground kicking and screaming, breaking and biting. The world doesn't celebrate girls who take up space, who demand to be heard, who are 'just a little much'" There were other quotes too, but if I included those this review would be wayy too long. The Character Change: I liked how both Stella and Ellie changed in their own ways because it was so clearly there, without them explicitly saying it. I could see how they started one way but had slowly changed and it just made me enjoy this book so much more. I also really liked how we didn't know exactly what happened with Stella before the start of the book, and how it left me feeling really curious. What I didn't like: My main problem with it was that there wasn't much focus on the mystery aspect of this book and since this was described as a "fast-paced" thriller, I expected a lot more of that in this book. This is why I couldn't give it a higher rating, but otherwise, it was really enjoyable and I can't wait for this book to officially come out! ✨ You can find this review and others on my blog! ✨ ------------------------------------------------ Preview: Edit: I just finished and I have a lot of thoughts. Review to come soon! Arc received! Thank you Penguin Publishing and Edelweiss! I'm so excited to read and review this!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    They'll Never Catch Us was such a good mystery thriller book to dive into today. Maybe it's because I got like 4 hours of sleep last night.. or maybe I just needed a book to devour.. but I devoured the heck out of this. In it, you will meet sisters Ellie and Stella. Very competitive when it comes to running and at times.. they don't really connect or see eye to eye. But when a murder happens to one of their teammates, these two get closer than ever. Honestly, I was on the edge of my couch with e They'll Never Catch Us was such a good mystery thriller book to dive into today. Maybe it's because I got like 4 hours of sleep last night.. or maybe I just needed a book to devour.. but I devoured the heck out of this. In it, you will meet sisters Ellie and Stella. Very competitive when it comes to running and at times.. they don't really connect or see eye to eye. But when a murder happens to one of their teammates, these two get closer than ever. Honestly, I was on the edge of my couch with each twist that came my way. I will also admit that I didn't think it was Stella who did it all and just kind of seemed like she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. As for Ellie? Well, she surprised me a bit with what she went through throughout this book. I was not happy with her choice of being with Noah since he was in a relationship with her other teammate. Also the pull-out method? Come on! IT DOESN'T WORK PEOPLE!! I also just didn't like the douche canoe and he deserves to live forever alone. Then there's the overall mystery. The big reveal was pretty good because I was suspicious of everyone but I still had no idea who was actually behind it. Mostly because their teammates were a bunch of assholes. Especially their coach. So it was really hard for me to narrow it down to one person. In the end, I definitely enjoyed the heck out of this book and I can't wait to dive into another book of Jessica's!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I was a little surprised this mystery touched on some deeper topics, but I was surprised in a really good way. I was a expecting a little more of a thriller, but I was not disappointed by this twisty mystery. I liked the town’s back story even if we don’t get a resolution to all the unsolved murders (all of which were teenage girls who were runners). Stella and Ellie are sisters with a complicated relationship that isn’t helped by how competitive they are with their cross country running. Stella I was a little surprised this mystery touched on some deeper topics, but I was surprised in a really good way. I was a expecting a little more of a thriller, but I was not disappointed by this twisty mystery. I liked the town’s back story even if we don’t get a resolution to all the unsolved murders (all of which were teenage girls who were runners). Stella and Ellie are sisters with a complicated relationship that isn’t helped by how competitive they are with their cross country running. Stella had it all the scholarship with a full ride to Georgetown until an incident occurred with another runner which caused her to spend her summer at a mental health/cross country training facility. Ellie spent her summer getting into the secretive kind of trouble. School starts and there’s new competition on the team talented runner Mila has moved to town. Stella and Ellie should be upset, but Mila befriends them both. After a minor disagreement with Stella and Ellie telling Mila Ellie’s biggest secret Mila goes missing while out on a run. It’s a race to figure out what happened while the rest of the town is already convinced that Stella is the monster.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Monte Price

    My full thoughts can be found in this reading vlog. I have to say I wish this wasn't pitched as a thriller. Thrillers I think have a set up that this book doesn't follow. Not only does the body not hit the page until just after the first third of the book, neither of the perspectives do much of an investigation that I think most readers come to expect from thrillers? It's kind of a genre convention that the mundane every day person takes the investigation into their own hands. And while there is My full thoughts can be found in this reading vlog. I have to say I wish this wasn't pitched as a thriller. Thrillers I think have a set up that this book doesn't follow. Not only does the body not hit the page until just after the first third of the book, neither of the perspectives do much of an investigation that I think most readers come to expect from thrillers? It's kind of a genre convention that the mundane every day person takes the investigation into their own hands. And while there is a search party organized and at one point Stella links up with Mila's best friend to talk to Mila's dad, that's pretty much it? What we have instead is a straight forward mystery wherein our perspectives, Stella and Ellie are at the center of a investigation as the main suspects [ moreso Stella ] and them trying to get through the cross country season with that pressure on their shoulders. Where this book really shines is in the character work. Sure the Stella/Ellie is a little stereotypical in that they're sort of set up as polar opposites in most ways except cross country. I did think that despite that Goodman did a really nice job in making me believe that these sisters would do anything to have the other's back when all the cards were on table and the shit was hitting the fan. In most ways I found this just generally a stronger book than the debut. When it came time to unmask who was behind what happened to Mila I did like the explanation. I didn't think that Goodman relied on giving the readers as headspinning level of twists and turns. Instead I think like any good mystery she gave you enough breadcrumbs to think you had the mystery solved and then at the last minute was able to pin it on a different character that had an equal amount of buildup that still felt satisfying. The book does touch on one of the sisters having an abortion, so if that's a triggering topic just know that going in. Overall I had a good time reading it, it really scratched that itch for a good fall time read so if that's something you're looking for I think this could deliver.

  10. 5 out of 5

    reina ✧ ia bc of exams

    sister dynamics 👀

  11. 4 out of 5

    mer reads

    Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/5V9m-_qkz9g They'll Never Catch Us is a super quick and engaging read about two sisters who run for their high school's cross country team. In their hometown, there is more than just competition, however... there's a murderer on the loose. When one of Ellie and Stella's cross country team members turns out to be missing, a serial killer in the town is suspected to be at large once again. Goodman has a clear talent for writing and the process of reading the novel was Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/5V9m-_qkz9g They'll Never Catch Us is a super quick and engaging read about two sisters who run for their high school's cross country team. In their hometown, there is more than just competition, however... there's a murderer on the loose. When one of Ellie and Stella's cross country team members turns out to be missing, a serial killer in the town is suspected to be at large once again. Goodman has a clear talent for writing and the process of reading the novel was enjoyable. I liked both of our main characters Ellie and Stella. However, their points of view sometimes muddle together as they do not have distinct enough voices for their own first person perspective chapters. I also did not feel as if Ellie and Stella were as close to the missing character as the author wrote them out to be. While it would be obviously devastating for a team member to be missing, I did not feel as if the friendships the characters were said to have had were actually represented on page. In the end, I could not guess the killer the entire time and was genuinely surprised by the ending. They'll Never Catch Us is well written and surprising- I'll definitely pick up more books by Jessica Goodman in the future!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Keeley

    Let me preface this review by saying that I know an excessive amount about Cross Country. From the moment I was born, Cross Country became everything. My dad has been a Cross Country coach for almost 30 years, and I have helped him coach as well. I also competed competitively for years. So when a book is about Cross Country I am more biased about the details than your average reader. If a book does Cross Country wrong then I am not able to look past those details. Unfortunately this book got so Let me preface this review by saying that I know an excessive amount about Cross Country. From the moment I was born, Cross Country became everything. My dad has been a Cross Country coach for almost 30 years, and I have helped him coach as well. I also competed competitively for years. So when a book is about Cross Country I am more biased about the details than your average reader. If a book does Cross Country wrong then I am not able to look past those details. Unfortunately this book got so many things about the sport wrong. Some examples are practicing on the track every single day, getting the distances and the measurements on the track wrong, and some of the workouts just did not make sense for Cross Country. Also the mean girl side of things is almost nonexistent in Cross Country so that part of the story was just not realistic. These runners also partied and got drunk a lot, going so far as to party in the middle of a race. Not only is that unrealistic, but serious Cross Country runners that want to make a life out of racing do not act like that. Now on the non Cross Country side of things, these characters were so unlikeable. Some people don’t mind reading about unlikeable characters, but for me, if the characters are awful then I will not enjoy the book. The mystery aspect did not happen until about halfway through the book and I was hoping it would come into play sooner. By the end I didn’t even care about the reveal and I just thought everyone was awful. Overall, I believe this book is for people who don’t know Cross Country and who don’t care if the characters are likeable or not.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Sherman

    Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of this book. I am of two minds when it comes to this book. I read THEY WISH THEY WERE US last year and, to be quite honest, did not enjoy it really at all, so going into this one, I had lower expectations and I certainly enjoyed Goodman's follow up much more. But on the other hand, I do not feel it is being marketed properly (from cover design--which is not to knock the cover itself, it's stunning--to it's branding and descrip Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of this book. I am of two minds when it comes to this book. I read THEY WISH THEY WERE US last year and, to be quite honest, did not enjoy it really at all, so going into this one, I had lower expectations and I certainly enjoyed Goodman's follow up much more. But on the other hand, I do not feel it is being marketed properly (from cover design--which is not to knock the cover itself, it's stunning--to it's branding and description calling it a "fast-paced thriller"). Quite simply, this isn't a thriller, and in many ways I don't even think it is a mystery. Yes, at the center is a missing girl, a case which echoes the cold cases the town is still trying to come back from. But that feels so secondary to the stories of Stella and Ellie. At its true center, this is a story of these two sisters trying to find their way back to one another despite years of being pitted against each other and constantly competing. It's a story about each of them dealing with their own problems in a town where they are misunderstood and vilified due to being misunderstood bye their peers. At no point do the characters in the book try to take it upon themselves to solve the case, they all just sort of languish in the disappearance of this promising young track star, occasionally partaking in a search party or a difficult conversation with friends or family. It isn't until just before the mystery is solved that the tone feels even remotely thriller-esque. Had this not been marketed and pushed as a "fast-past thriller," I think my feelings would be different. But as it is, this is neither fast-paced, nor a thriller. I found Goodman's writing much improved, though she still relies rather heavily on near constant flashbacks which, while at times important to the events of the story, at other times feel so tangential and just as a way to pad the length and justify the book being longer. The characters are...fine? Stella and Ellie's narrative voices are very similar, and while for the most part we alternate back and forth from chapter to chapter, I found it jarring that at times we would get 2 Stella chapters back-to-back, it felt like a strange break in routine and sometimes I would have to go back a page or 2 to make sure I was reading about the right person. There are interesting family dynamics, and near the end a few well-written passages about how strong, determined women are always asked to dim themselves to make men comfortable, but these sections while definitely ringing true felt a little our of left field for me. I also found it...almost not believable (?) that of all high school sports, cross country was the one that this town depended on the most. I'm sure this is the case somewhere, but it felt a little off to me. Overall, an easy read though not nearly as enjoyable as I was hoping.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    While I thoroughly enjoyed Goodman’s debut They Wish They Were Us, I’ll admit that I enjoyed They’ll Never Catch Us even more because it’s darker, grittier, and really digs into complicated family dynamics. Told in dual narration, the story follows sisters Stella and Ellie Steckler, who are highly competitive cross-country runners. Being that they’re only one year apart, their biggest competition is each other…that is until cross-country star Mila Keene joins their team. Now that there’s a new r While I thoroughly enjoyed Goodman’s debut They Wish They Were Us, I’ll admit that I enjoyed They’ll Never Catch Us even more because it’s darker, grittier, and really digs into complicated family dynamics. Told in dual narration, the story follows sisters Stella and Ellie Steckler, who are highly competitive cross-country runners. Being that they’re only one year apart, their biggest competition is each other…that is until cross-country star Mila Keene joins their team. Now that there’s a new rival in town, the rivalry between Stella and Ellie is even more fierce and secrets that could undo them both are threatening to spill over and keep them from being scouted by colleges. If you’re looking for a fast paced, action packed thriller then this one will definitely not be for you. Instead, this is a slow burn atmospheric thriller that takes its time laying the foundation in terms of our main characters and their intense passion and competitive nature when it comes to cross-country before we get to the murder mystery aspect. That being said, Goodman does a fantastic job of examining the double standard that females face when it comes to competitive sports. There were so many times that I just wanted to scream for both Stella and Ella when it came to the unfairness and the blatant sexism and misogyny. On the flip side, the girl power theme was spot on. I also really enjoyed the overall messiness when it comes to the each of the characters and the decisions that they make. Nothing in this story is black and white but rather a sliding scale of grey, which definitely played on my own emotions when it comes to all of our players. I know I’ve avoided major plot points, but honestly, I think it’s best to experience them on your own. Don’t get me wrong, there weren’t many jaw dropping revelations, but the final twist was one that I did not see coming. Honestly, this story was just a really good time. Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book definitely surprised me in a bunch of different ways. They'll Never Catch Us follows sisters Stella and Ellie Steckler, who are both star cross country runners. When Mila Keene, another fast runner, joins the cross country team, the Steckler sisters initially see her as competition, but then begin to bond with Mila in their own ways. Suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters. I really enjoyed this bo This book definitely surprised me in a bunch of different ways. They'll Never Catch Us follows sisters Stella and Ellie Steckler, who are both star cross country runners. When Mila Keene, another fast runner, joins the cross country team, the Steckler sisters initially see her as competition, but then begin to bond with Mila in their own ways. Suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters. I really enjoyed this book! It kept me hooked, especially during the last half, and the chapters were pretty short. I actually predicted part of the mystery/the murderer, but the other part I didn't see coming at all. Two of the standout themes of this book were family/sister bonds and feminism. Stella and Ellie would do anything and everything to protect each other, and I love how they grew closer during the book. The book also tackles the topic of feminism through the way that Edgewater's girls' cross country team is perceived. They're almost like objects for people to admire and show off; the book also discusses how society tends to look down upon women who are "too much", who try to push the boundaries/lead or who aren't meek and submissive. The book mentions that Stella is queer (and she has a budding romance with one of the side characters), so I enjoyed the mentions of queerness included in the book. The book also touches on racism, especially when it comes to the criminal justice system and how race affects how seriously criminal cases are taken. Overall, the book had a pretty diverse cast (rep: sapphic mc, sapphic Korean sc, half Puerto-Rican sc, Black sc). Just a warning that this book talks about running and cross country... a lot. Running is these girls' lives, so it's brought up all the time. I personally have never run cross country, so I can't really say how accurate the depiction of the sport was. In terms of critiques, I only have a few. I came into the book expecting a mystery and a fast-paced thriller, and I was let down a bit. The actual disappearance only happened 50% of the way through the book (the first half of the book really only focused on cross country and Mila being the new girl and new competition). In most mysteries, the main character is trying to solve the mystery/find the killer, but this book felt a bit different. Stella, despite being a main suspect, did a bit of investigating, with Ellie joining her at the end; however, for the most part, it felt like things were just constantly happening TO the sisters, and the book was focusing on their reactions to that. What I'm saying is that this book isn't exactly a detective story. In addition, I feel like there was a certain degree of emotional distance between me and the characters. The Steckler sisters definitely grew on me, though, and they definitely built their relationship as the book went on. I would definitely recommend They'll Never Catch Us! Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin/Razorbill for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! CW: alcoholism, abortion, cheating, murder, mentions of disordered eating

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angela Staudt

    Thank you to NetGalley and PenguinTeen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review! I really enjoyed the author's debut book and was super looking forward to another dark and mysterious book! This follows the Stelker sisters who have been running cross country for as long as they can remember. They're both super competitive and will stop at nothing to win, even when it means getting in trouble. Stella hurt someone during a race the year before and had to go to a camp for summer. She is back and Thank you to NetGalley and PenguinTeen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review! I really enjoyed the author's debut book and was super looking forward to another dark and mysterious book! This follows the Stelker sisters who have been running cross country for as long as they can remember. They're both super competitive and will stop at nothing to win, even when it means getting in trouble. Stella hurt someone during a race the year before and had to go to a camp for summer. She is back and better than ever and her and Ellie are ready to win every race. That is until a new girl comes to town and beats their time. Mila, the new girl, suddenly goes missing while on her routine jog and ends up dead. Are the Stelker sisters murderers? I did think that They'll Never Catch Us is super fast paced and can be read in a day or two. I liked the plot and felt myself wanting to continue to read and if I had to stop I was thinking about the book. I did have some slight annoyances, such as the differences between Stella and Ellie. I thought they were supposed to be two very different sisters besides their love for running. When the chapters would switch between perspectives it felt like they were the same at some points. Also, I felt like the murder didn't happen for SO long that this was more a drama book until over 50% of the way in. I really really didn't think the end was a big twist and I just felt kind of meh. While this book did have some problems, I did still enjoy it. I thought it was an easy, fast paced read full of little twists. I just think it needed more throughout the entire book. More about the murders from years ago, more about the sisters, and even more about certain topics. I am excited to see what the author comes out with next though!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kinsey Breland

    I liked how both of the sisters had big secrets that the reader didn’t know about at the start. Stella had gotten into some kind of fight or altercation with someone else and almost lost her spot on the cross country team (along with her college scholarship), while Ellie and her sort-of-boyfriend had some kind of secret of their own. So much was going on behind the scenes which kept me reading, desperate to know what was happening. It was nice how one of the sisters (Stella) was a part of the LG I liked how both of the sisters had big secrets that the reader didn’t know about at the start. Stella had gotten into some kind of fight or altercation with someone else and almost lost her spot on the cross country team (along with her college scholarship), while Ellie and her sort-of-boyfriend had some kind of secret of their own. So much was going on behind the scenes which kept me reading, desperate to know what was happening. It was nice how one of the sisters (Stella) was a part of the LGBT community, but it didn’t really mean much. It was a minor detail compared to everything else that was going on. Stella has the kind of personality where I can understand why people don’t like her. She doesn’t understand a lot of things that the other kids her age are doing. She finds drinking and partying a waste of time, and doesn’t understand why no one else gives EVERYTHING into running. In those ways, I actually do get Stella. She has a goal in mind and doesn’t want anything to distract her from accomplishing it. I admire that about her. What I didn’t understand was her attitude after Mila went missing. Even then, all she could think about was keeping up with her training and doesn’t get why her other teammates insist on helping with the search. Raven shouldn’t have kept hanging out with Julia and Tamara. Just because they stuck by her side and helped her through all the drama that was going on with her sister last year doesn’t mean she owes them anything. If they want to treat her like crap now, she deserves better. Even by the end, when we learned more about her side of things, I still didn’t really get it. I think Raven wanted to be friends with them because her family was struggling for money at the time, and her mom could no longer afford the expensive clothes from Julia’s parents’ store, and Tamara’s family owned a well established business in the town as well. It sounded like she just wanted to hang out with them for the friendship perks that came with being friends with the “popular girls”. She seemed so nice at the beginning though. It’s hard to believe that this was all going on behind the scenes until the end. The author seemed to be trying really hard to convey the new rules that were being established around the town as being sexist towards girls. I didn't see it that way. Girls were being kidnapped and killed. Asking them to be careful, to stay at home at night, and off of the forest trails after dark; that should be expected if they want to stay safe. It’s not sexist, it’s just the people the serial killer was targeting, and it was temporary. Just until they figured out what was going on. I gave this book a 4.5 star rating.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dani Kline

    This book is so good and so well-written and let me tell you why: Jessica Goodman touches on nearly every sort of topic that is relevant to teenagers (specifically teenage girls) today. She portrays complicated sister and family dynamics of all sorts, which everyone can resonate with to a certain degree, while also addressing double standards and sexism, white privilege and racism, the LGBTQ+ community, abusive relationships, educational pressure, and all the trauma that comes from the way these This book is so good and so well-written and let me tell you why: Jessica Goodman touches on nearly every sort of topic that is relevant to teenagers (specifically teenage girls) today. She portrays complicated sister and family dynamics of all sorts, which everyone can resonate with to a certain degree, while also addressing double standards and sexism, white privilege and racism, the LGBTQ+ community, abusive relationships, educational pressure, and all the trauma that comes from the way these things are often dealt with in society. And what I found amazing about this is that Goodman manages to address ALL these topics without hitting you over the head with it. It does not feel forced, it fits into the story perfectly because these are all things you encounter in real life, especially in today's day and age. The main plot revolves around two sisters, Stella and Ellie, who are the most competitive members of their high school's cross country team dealing with the disappearance of another girl, Mila, from the team, and this is the backbone of the book of course, but there is so much more to it that makes this book fascinating.

  19. 4 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    THEY’LL NEVER CATCH US might just be my favorite read of 2021. Filled with messy, misunderstood girls who don’t always make the best choices Jessica Goodman’s sophomore effort is even better than her debut. Set in a backdrop of four unsolved teen runner murders THEY’LL NEVER CATCH US is nonstop intrigue. Older sister Stella is home from angry girl camp after an incident with a competitor last season. Ellie is keeping secret her relationship with a teammate’s boyfriend, which included a pregnancy THEY’LL NEVER CATCH US might just be my favorite read of 2021. Filled with messy, misunderstood girls who don’t always make the best choices Jessica Goodman’s sophomore effort is even better than her debut. Set in a backdrop of four unsolved teen runner murders THEY’LL NEVER CATCH US is nonstop intrigue. Older sister Stella is home from angry girl camp after an incident with a competitor last season. Ellie is keeping secret her relationship with a teammate’s boyfriend, which included a pregnancy and abortion. The two best runners on their cross country team until newcomer Mila challenges their supremacy. Then Mila goes missing and the sisters become suspects. I also listened to the audiobook, which I enjoyed because the voices were distinct and on point. At this point, I’ll read anything Goodman writes. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Austin

    Thank you so much Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC! This book was absolutely incredible I can’t say enough good things about this book! There were so many twist and turns on the book and had me sucked in from the start I didn’t want to put it down. Each character has something tragic going in their their life even with what had happen in their town. Honestly the twist and turns and how everyone’s story lead together it had me so emotional!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thescorpion.bibliophile

    Diving into this one 😍🤯 Loved the blurb and this cover is just 😽 Really hyped up about this!

  22. 5 out of 5

    ♡p e a c h e s♡

    4.5 ⭐ Wow! This book had me scared, crying and laughing at the same time! The writing was unique, but familiar at the same time! I have already ordered two more copies for my close reader friends! I am planning to re-read it during my annual thriller readathon for Halloween. I don't think I can say WOW enough!! I enjoyed this so much! The only reason it didn't get a full 5 stars is because personally I didn't really like the ending, but the rest of the book made up for it. Plus the cover really spea 4.5 ⭐ Wow! This book had me scared, crying and laughing at the same time! The writing was unique, but familiar at the same time! I have already ordered two more copies for my close reader friends! I am planning to re-read it during my annual thriller readathon for Halloween. I don't think I can say WOW enough!! I enjoyed this so much! The only reason it didn't get a full 5 stars is because personally I didn't really like the ending, but the rest of the book made up for it. Plus the cover really speaks for the book and gives the scary vibes! I will 100% be putting this on the special shelf on my bookcase for my favorite books along with quite a few other thrillers. I will def be watching this author for more books because I fell inlove with her writing. I will admit that I did indeed throw the book multiple times in shock because whoa the twists in this book!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Don’tGoBrekkerMyHeart

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. TNCU had a lot of potential— I'm not gonna lie about that. Although, my biggest gripe will always be the handling of the killer and their motivations. It felt rushed and half hazard because there was so much build up for other character(s) that made far more sense. It was cheaply done in a way that felt like it wasn't the other characters just because the author didn't want the reader to guess beforehand. They wanted to be one of those few thriller authors who could pull a fast one on their read TNCU had a lot of potential— I'm not gonna lie about that. Although, my biggest gripe will always be the handling of the killer and their motivations. It felt rushed and half hazard because there was so much build up for other character(s) that made far more sense. It was cheaply done in a way that felt like it wasn't the other characters just because the author didn't want the reader to guess beforehand. They wanted to be one of those few thriller authors who could pull a fast one on their readers. Well... this is what NOT to do. This is a prime example of a author losing the trust of the reader because they themself don't trust the reader enough to come to their own conclusions. It's a backfire situation because it can then confuse and upset the reader since our knowledge and feelings are played with. Moreover, I felt as if the voices of the two main MCs (Stella and Ellie) were one and the same. Besides Ellie's traumatic experiences and constant reference to it, I don't think there's much of anything that differentiates their tone and characterization. Don't even get me started on the addiction and handling of abortion. This book had a chance to make these traumatic events more meaningful, especially for young adults who go through them, but instead, we are left with characters that do none of this at all. They just wallow and bring it up relentlessly as their only character trait. They're defined by this trauma instead of overcoming it., which I think is even worse because teens should work towards healing and bettering themselves. This novel doesn't give that meaningful theme or message. Overall, a very sloppy book in terms of the planning for the true crime story. Mila was my favorite character, but I'm unsure if that’s because we got the least amount of time with her since she’s the killed teen. Personally, I think she had to die due to her maturity and common sense. You can't have a character live when their knowledge will deescalate the stress and tensions of immature characters like the rest of these students and adults. Maybe I'll further explain some of the issues about this book, but for now this is all I got. TWs: Abortion (experience off screen but detailed), paranoia, murder, blood, serial killer discussion, abusive teen relationship, gas-lighting/ manipulation, non-consensual sex (condom wanted & not used), mental health bullying, PTSD from parental neglect/ unreliability, Substance abuse with alcohol (parental and high schoolers)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    3.75 stars I've been really into YA thrillers lately. It's fun putting together clues and trying to figure out who the killer is, while having relationship drama or crushes to fill out the story. This definitely had some drama, along with two sisters trying to figure out who killed their friend while being accused by the town. Stella and Ellie are pretty different, with Stella being thought of as aggressive and aloof and Ellie having friends and being generally liked. I actually liked Stella a lo 3.75 stars I've been really into YA thrillers lately. It's fun putting together clues and trying to figure out who the killer is, while having relationship drama or crushes to fill out the story. This definitely had some drama, along with two sisters trying to figure out who killed their friend while being accused by the town. Stella and Ellie are pretty different, with Stella being thought of as aggressive and aloof and Ellie having friends and being generally liked. I actually liked Stella a lot more, she was more honest and didn't pretend for others. The mystery was okay, but not quite as intense as I hoped it would be and the reveal at the end felt a bit lackluster. I wish this had gone in a different direction and tied a couple things together more. There were a couple things that I really liked, especially Stella getting some justice for what happened to her. This goes by pretty quickly and the narrators for the audiobook did a good job, though I thought they sounded a bit too similar.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Inger Hansen

    MISS GOODMAN, EXPLAIN TO ME HOW YOU MAKE SO GOOD PLOT TWISTS😩😩 I LOVED THIS BOOK! Highly recommend!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Complex sister relationships, teen angst (but really well done angst), family drama, young LGBT coming-of-age story all set against a propulsive YA murder mystery. I raced (pun totally intended) through this one in 24 hours!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    This book shows us the dual perspectives of cross country superstar sisters Stella and Ellie. They live in a town with a reputation for murder and all they want to do is get out. Although Stella is older, faster, and has the seemingly brighter future, her shot at getting a full ride scholarship far away may be impossible at this point. Stella has been branded as angry, violent, and willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead following an incident at a cross country meet the year before. All she This book shows us the dual perspectives of cross country superstar sisters Stella and Ellie. They live in a town with a reputation for murder and all they want to do is get out. Although Stella is older, faster, and has the seemingly brighter future, her shot at getting a full ride scholarship far away may be impossible at this point. Stella has been branded as angry, violent, and willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead following an incident at a cross country meet the year before. All she wants is to prove those scouts wrong. She is good. She is the best. She deserves to win. Ellie has been living in her sisters shadow her entire life. Never fast enough, never good enough, never the center of attention. But this year she has a chance to shine and catch the attention of the schools of her dreams. All she has to do is be better than Stella. The girls have to choose between beating each other or sticking together when tragedy strikes and they both wind up as the center of attention. I really did enjoy this book but I would strongly advise checking the content warnings as there are some very triggering events in the book

  28. 5 out of 5

    Richelle Robinson

    Thank you Bookish First & Penguin Teen for my finished copy. Full disclosure I stopped at page 174. I’ve heard good things about They Wish They Were Us and this is why I wanted to read this book. I struggled big time with this book. Even though I’m an adult I do appreciate a good young adult novel and this story just didn’t work out for me. I had a hard a time getting into the story and found myself losing focus on the story while reading. I also felt that Ellie and Stella pretty much had the sa Thank you Bookish First & Penguin Teen for my finished copy. Full disclosure I stopped at page 174. I’ve heard good things about They Wish They Were Us and this is why I wanted to read this book. I struggled big time with this book. Even though I’m an adult I do appreciate a good young adult novel and this story just didn’t work out for me. I had a hard a time getting into the story and found myself losing focus on the story while reading. I also felt that Ellie and Stella pretty much had the same personality. I’m not sure if it was meant to be that way since they are sisters, but sisters do have differences. Since I didn’t want to give up hope on this story I borrowed the audiobook from the library and that still couldn’t hold my attention. I ended up skipping to the back of the book to see who the killer was and the reasoning and I found that to be a lackluster ending. Triggers: Alcohol dependency Abortion

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ƥiya

    I did not like They Wish They Were Us ( absolutely hated it if you must know) I just hope this is better than that. I did not like They Wish They Were Us ( absolutely hated it if you must know) I just hope this is better than that.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Krissy (books_and_biceps9155)

    I was on a little YA kick to change it up apparently lol I was super excited for this one. Did I enjoy it as much as I thought I would….mehhhhh I am not sure. Ill break down the good and bad in my opinion!   The Good- One thing I really enjoyed where the short chapters, I was able to get through quite a bit in one sitting which always makes me feel accomplished! I also really enjoy the overall message that Goodman provides in this novel which is feminism and the ability to be in charge of your one I was on a little YA kick to change it up apparently lol I was super excited for this one. Did I enjoy it as much as I thought I would….mehhhhh I am not sure. Ill break down the good and bad in my opinion!   The Good- One thing I really enjoyed where the short chapters, I was able to get through quite a bit in one sitting which always makes me feel accomplished! I also really enjoy the overall message that Goodman provides in this novel which is feminism and the ability to be in charge of your one’s own body. I am all here for that and I really loved that it was a theme throughout without it being *preached* and taking away from the mystery. You know I love sports and recently have taken up running so I was happy with the fact that the main characters were competitively driven females who really wanted to win! Hell yeah! I related to that big time! I also did not guess the ending or the mystery behind the murders. It through me for a loop which I found refreshing.   The Not So Good: It dragged. There were parts of the story I felt could have been eliminated. My mind wandered at times and I found myself slightly bored. I was also perplexed because this is marketed as “edge of your seat” type of novel and I just did not get that. It was more of a slow burn. I also wished that Goodman had explained or explored the sister relationship a little bit more.   All in all I enjoyed this and will read more of Goodman’s work, I just wasn’t blown away.  

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