Win Lose Kill Die | Cynthia Murphy


Our Now from Random House Children’s books; 272 pages

About the Author: “I am a young adult horror/thriller writer from the North-West of England. My books are published by Scholastic (UK), Barrington Stoke (UK) and Delacorte Press (USA).

I have a long-standing love affair with all things scary, reading Point Horrors at primary school before graduating to Stephen King in my misguided teens. ​Studying for a degree in Art History and Archaeology meant that I developed a thirst for anything old, beautiful and very often dead. I try to combine this with contemporary settings in my writing to make unique and chilling modern stories. ​I am married to my best friend and we are ruled by a Romanian rescue dog called Loli” (Bio from author’s website).

Find Cynthia Murphy on the following platforms: 

“I didn’t mean to kill the first one. Honest. It was just… too easy, I suppose.”

Morton Academy is a high-end school filled with the smartest students. Morgan, your typical mean girl who was perceived by the adults and the school as a ball of sunshine, was murdered the previous year in a boating “accident.” The school is now in shambles and mourning for Morgan. However, mysterious events keep happening that result in multiple deaths. More victims start to pop up who all have one thing in common: they were the “perfect girls,” the ones who held the title of head girl for Morton Academy. Why is this happening? Someone is trying to climb their way to the top, but who? Sometimes the enemies we don’t know of are the ones who we keep close.

I did not particularly love this book because it fell flat. The setting and plot were decent and unique in their own ways, but the characters were one-dimensional. I couldn’t really form an attachment to any of them; they were one-note characters. All the girls who had died had something in common—they were perfect and the head girl of the school. Liz, the main character, is the antithesis of that. She is not perfect, her family is terrible, and she wants more out of her life. Yet, she was boring and predictable. She wanted it all; she wanted to be what Taylor is at the school. Taylor is the current head girl and has her life together—she is pretty, she is sweet, she has a great boyfriend, she has everything. Apply these characteristics to Morgan, Jameela, Taylor, Emily, and Kat. There is no diversity or substance to the characters. No spoilers, but the twist at the end of the book was… a choice. It could have been a good twist if done well. However, I would have liked it if it wasn’t so obvious. Within the first few pages I knew who the culprit was, and the author did not really leave any breadcrumbs for the audience. I wish I was not made aware of certain characters and how they act before the twist was revealed.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Children’s Books for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Sadelle Gibson, Pine Reads Review Writer