Book Reviews

Review: Death by Society by Sierra Elmore

Death By Society is an intense emotional ride about bullying, friendship, and second chances. It’s about mental illness, family, and resilience. I had such high hopes for this book before, and reading it I can confirm it’s everything I hoped it would be. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Carter Harper may have created an award-winning app and have a 3.93 GPA, but her successes are overshadowed by brutal bullying, depression, and loneliness. Tired of being treated as the popular girls’ plaything, Carter thinks her only choice is to die by suicide.

Abby Wallace is one of the most popular girls in school, subordinate only to Kelsey, her best friend with benefits. The ambitious poet destroys reputations without care to prove how cool, cruel, and strong she is, all while pushing down her past trauma and secret guilt.

Carter and Abby’s tumultuous relationship comes to a boiling point when Abby stops Carter from attempting suicide. But what happens when they have to protect one another from Kelsey’s harmful antics? If Carter and Abby can stand each other for more than three minutes, they can stop Kelsey from hurting more girls—and maybe become friends in the process.

In the tradition of Courtney Summers and Laurie Halse Anderson, DEATH BY SOCIETY questions how far we’ll go to gain power over our lives—and what happens when we use our voices for both good and to harm others.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, depression, bullying, self-harm

Death By Society manages to balance the line between intense emotions and also hopeful resilience. Carter’s struggle with mental illness and the intense bullying she experiences makes it hard to read sometimes. But there’s also light, transformation, and help. Elmore’s novel is a testament to trauma and mistakes, but also self-discovery and belief in our own possibility. It’s a gripping story about looking deeply at our own self, identity, and behavior.

Death By Society takes this idea that we never know the full story behind someone else, behind their actions, and deepens it. Being dual POV is an expert move to see the relationship between Carter and Abby. We can see the ways in which their actions impact each other, the (mis)communication, and the distance that needs to be covered. Elmore doesn’t even let Abby off the hook and instead portrays both of their mistakes and hopes.

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All the ways in which we lash out, lose control, when we feel like our life is crumbling around us. At the same time, Death By Society explores people’s ignorance regarding mental illness, the stigma, and the misconceptions. The difficulty to find treatment, to find skilled professionals, and to re-navigate our identity int he process. This is probably my favorite aspect of Death By Society. That and Carter’s relationship with her mother! Find Death By Society on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is the last book you read set in High School?

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