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