By Seija Rankin
March 10, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST
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Still riding high on the outrageous success of One of Us Is Lying, Karen McManus is one of YA's biggest names. This fall she'll continue her thriller reign with another page-turner, and EW has the very first look at the book before it hits shelves on Nov. 30. You'll Be the Death of Me is basically Ferris Bueller's Day Off — with murder. It follows three students at Carlton High: Ivy, who is humiliated after losing a recent student council election; Mateo, the school heartthrob who's balancing several jobs to help his family with bills; and Cal, an outsider who convinces the other two to skip school for a day. They wind up following a fellow student to his own murder, and the book unfolds as they try to solve the murder and figure out what each of them is hiding from the others.

See the reveal of You'll Be the Death of Me's cover above, and read on for an exclusive excerpt introducing the book's protagonists.

You'll Be the Death of Me
Credit: Delacorte Press

Excerpt from You'll Be the Death of Me, by Karen McManus

I don't believe in fate, as a general principle. But it feels like more than a coincidence when I step out of my car in the Carlton High parking lot and almost walk straight into Ivy Sterling-Shepard.

"Hey," she says as her brother, Daniel, grunts a semi-greeting and brushes past me. That kid's gotten a lot taller since freshman year—some days I barely recognize him loping through school in his lacrosse gear. Nobody should be that good at so many different things. It doesn't build character.

Ivy watches him go like she's thinking the same thing, before turning her attention back to me. "Cal, wow. I haven't seen you in forever."

"I know." I lean against the side of my car. "Weren't you in Scotland or something?"

"Yeah, for six weeks over the summer. My mom was teaching there."

"That must've been awesome." Ivy could have used the distance, probably, after the whole junior talent show debacle. I saw it all from the second row of the auditorium with Noemi and her friends, who were all doubled over with laughter.

Okay, I was, too. I couldn't help it. It was brutally hilarious. I felt bad later, though, wondering if Ivy had seen me. The thought makes my skin prickle with shame, so I quickly add, "This is so weird. I was just thinking about you."

There's never been anything except a friend vibe between Ivy and me, so I don't worry about her taking that the wrong way, like Damn, girl, you've been on my mind. I'm a little surprised, though, when she says, "Really? Me too. About you, I mean."

"You were?"

"Yeah. I was trying to remember the last time I missed a class," she says, pressing her key fob to lock the black Audi beside her. I recognize it from middle school, so it's definitely her parents' old car, but still. That's a sweet ride for a high school senior. "It was the day we skipped the field trip."

"That's exactly what I was thinking about," I say, and for a second we share a conspiratorial grin. "Hey, and congrats to your mom."

She blinks. "What?"

"Carlton Citizen of the Year, right?"

"You know about that?" Ivy asks.

"My dad was on the voting committee. Wes," I add, which feels a little weird. Back when we were friends, Ivy always knew which dad I was referring to without me having to specify.

"Really?" Her eyes widen. "I didn't realize. Mom was so surprised. She always says statisticians are unsung heroes. Plus there's usually more of a local angle for the award, and with the opioid report …" She shrugs. "It's not like Carlton is a hotspot or anything."

"Don't be so sure," I say. "Wes says that crap has been all over campus lately. He even set up a task force to deal with it." Ivy's expression gets alert, because there's nothing she likes better than a good task force, and I quickly change the subject before she can start lobbing suggestions. "Anyway, he voted for her. He and Henry will be there tonight."

"My parents are barely going to make it," Ivy says. "They're in San Francisco for their anniversary, and had to scramble to rearrange their flights to be home in time."

Sounds like a typically overachieving Sterling-Shepard move; my dads would've just videotaped an acceptance speech from California. "That's great," I say, which feels like my cue to move on. But we both keep standing there, until it gets awkward enough that my eyes stray over her shoulder. Then I do a double take as a tall, dark-haired guy swings himself over the fence surrounding the parking lot. "Well, damn. The stars keep aligning today. There's the third member of our illicit trio."

Ivy turns as Mateo catches sight of us. He gives a chin jut in our direction, then looks ready to continue his path to class until I stick my hand in the air and wave it wildly. It'd be a dick move to ignore me, and Mateo—despite being the kind of guy who'd rather swallow knives than make small talk—isn't a dick, so he heads our way.

"What's up?" he asks once he reaches the bumper of Ivy's car. She looks nervous all of a sudden, twisting the end of her ponytail around one finger. I'm starting to feel a little weird, too. Now that I've summoned Mateo, I don't know what to say to him. Talking with Ivy is easy, as long as I avoid minefields like the junior talent show, or how she got crushed in the student council election yesterday by Boney Mahoney. But Mateo? All I know about him these days is that his mom's bowling alley had to shut down. Not an ideal conversation starter.

"We were just talking about the Greatest Day Ever," I say instead. And then I feel like a loser, because that name wasn't cool even when we were twelve. But instead of groaning, Mateo gives me a small, tired smile. For the first time, I notice the dark shadows under his eyes. He looks like he hasn't slept in a week.

"Those were the days," he says.

"I'd give anything to get out of school today," Ivy says. She's still twirling her ponytail, eyes fixed on the back of Carlton High. I don't have to ask her why. Boney's acceptance speech is going to be painful for all of us, but especially her.

Mateo rubs a hand over his face. "Same."

"Let's do it," I blurt out. I'm mostly kidding, until neither of them shut me down right away. And then, it hits me that there's nothing I'd rather do. I have two classes with Noemi today, a history test I'm not ready for, no hope of seeing Lara, and nothing more exciting to look forward to than burritos for lunch. "Seriously, why not?"

Extract copyright © 2021 by Karen M. McManus LLC. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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