ARC/Book Review: One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us is Lying (2017)
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Extent: 368 pages
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?


By nature I’m not a huge mystery-thriller reader: while I love the whodunit nature of stories in this genre, I scare remarkably easy and tend to shy away from anything that might make me feel creeped out. I could not, however, resist One of Us is Lying — anything with a group of misfits banding together is right up my alley. Even more so when they all have secrets of their own… and the characters in this book definitely do.

The story opens straight before the action, with five kids in detention after what looks like a cellphone prank. When one of them dies pretty much then and there, it sets off a series of investigation into the life of the remaining four, all of whom ostensibly have a motive for wanting him dead. But as the layers are peeled back and friendships are broken, one question looms: who killed Simon?

“Everybody’s got secrets,” he says. “Right?”

One of Us is Lying is told in the first person POV of our four student suspects. The writing is simple and straightforward, making it engaging and effortless. It’s actually the perfect book to read in a slump — it’s relatively uncomplicated so easy to follow, and yet still gripping enough to keep you reading. To give you a picture, I actually read this on a flight and barely touched the entertainment console. 😂

As you can tell from the blurb, the characters are based on stereotypes: the nerd, the beauty, the criminal, the jock, the misfit. While McManus does put in commendable effort into giving them depth, though, I must admit that they ended up rather predictable even in their background and growth. They’re also not very distinctive — while there are four first-person voices, they all sound similar, if not exactly the same.

Everyone says, Just keep your head down. I’ve been trying, but once you’re under a microscope nothing slips by people.

Where One of Us is Lying becomes most interesting to me is in seeing these four characters grow. Each of them starts the book in one way and ends it in another, so it’s safe to say that the character development is done well here. There’s also smatterings of romance here and there (that I don’t particularly like or dislike) and family or sibling relationships that could potentially warm the heart.

My final words are: One of Us is Lying might not be quite “un-put-down-able” the way some books are, but it’s enough for a good time. While I never really felt like the characters were in any sort of real danger, the book did well in keeping the mystery alive, and the thriller was engaging enough. Admittedly, though, I wasn’t particularly surprised by the big reveal and kind of wish it had ended a different way, because that would be just a tad more interesting. 🙆

REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.

* I received an ARC of ONE OF US IS LYING from Penguin Australia via NetGalley.

14 thoughts on “ARC/Book Review: One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

  1. Lovely review, Reg! Just like you, I’m not much of a thriller fan, but I have heard good things about this book so I’m curious to see whether I enjoy it or not. I’m glad to hear there’s a great character development here 🙂


  2. Great review! As a huge fan of thrillers, I’d probably roll my eyes and might even DNF this book based on your review!! Haha! Nah, sometimes, even the big fans need a story simple enough for a good time without the need for brain work and this one sounds like it could do the trick!


  3. I put my review up for this book today too! I really enjoyed it and it is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017 so far! I loved all of the characters and I thought they’re were so many unexpected twists


  4. Great review for this book Reg, I’m not a massive fan of thriller books but I’ve read a couple since I started blogging and thought they were really good so maybe I should add this one to my to-read list as well. I’m already trying to work out which of the other four could have killed Simon and all I’ve read is the blurb and your review!
    The character development sounds amazing, and in a book like that that’s an important part of the story to develop, it’s just a shame the reveal at the end was a little unsurprising for you. 🙂


  5. Great review! I read this recently as well and really enjoyed it! I’m actually a massive fan on mysteries so it’s nice to see that this worked for someone who isn’t that interested in the genre as well. I didn’t actually figure it out until it was pretty close to being revealed so that made a nice change for me as well. It just gave me such breakfast club vibes which I absolutely loved 😍


  6. Great review! I was planning on starting this soon. It sounds like the book isn’t great but just one of those books that keeps you engaged enough to finish the book. Character development is always one of my favorite things about a book so that also sounds nice.


  7. great review reg! i’m also not a huge thriller reader, they tend to be a hit or miss for me, bt i can’t help getting excited for this book! i guess years watching detective conan (someone was murdered in a closed room full of people??) get me excited for this one 😀


  8. Great review, Reg! I usually don’t like thrillers / mysteries, but I added this one to my summer TBR because it sounded like a mix of Pretty Little Liars and the Breakfast Club. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it.


  9. I tend to watch more mystery-thriller shows instead of reading mystery-thriller books. I’ve had my eye on this book as a possibility and I’m okay with it not being all that incredible. Sometimes I want a book that’s addictive and quick to read. I do like the fact that even though the characters are unremarkable we still get to see their growth. I might just turn to this book if I’m hit by a slump.


  10. Such an interesting premise, it’s too bad to hear the characters may be underdeveloped. I love when writers take character archetypes and turn them on their heads, but it sounds like that wasn’t quite accomplished here. Still, I love a good mystery. Thanks for the review!


  11. I am reading this book this month for the blog tour. I’m really intrigued by the premise, but I’ve been seeing some pretty mixed reviews. My question for you would be, do you think this one needs a trigger warning, and how would you word it without it being spoilery?


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