Book Review: ‘One of Us is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus

This book had all the hallmarks of a teenage drama. The premise – Murder meets The Breakfast Club really intrigued me as I quite enjoyed that film when I myself was a teenager (wow, it’s been 15 years since I grew out of my teenage years… how sad).

It didn’t take me long to read, but oh, I suppose it did take me a while to review, as I actually finished the book last week. I’ve been gloriously distracted of late, what with friends visiting and other things taking precedence, so I’m sorry for the wait. But here it is. My review.

Synopsis

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

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?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Review

Like I said. I loved the premise, and I was looking forward to reading a gripping book about a bunch of teenagers who all had a motive for murdering their classmate. 

But if I’m truly honest, a lot of aspects of the book felt a little flat to me, and that included the ending of who killed Simon. Maybe that’s why it took a while to review, as I wasn’t exactly sure what to say. 

Every chapter is from the perspective of a different main character, and Cooper narrates the death scene of Simon and the actions of the other characters in that moment. I actually felt it should have been narrated by someone else, as I just could not get behind Cooper’s thoughts and feelings at that moment. In fact, I’ll be honest, most of the characters I just didn’t feel connected with. They all felt very stereotypical – but perhaps that was Karen M McManus’ intention, in which case I say bravo. You got every character down to a tee.

Out of all the characters I probably resonated with and liked Addy the most, as she is the one who develops and comes out of her ‘shell’ as it were. The act of cutting off all her hair, of dying it and stepping out of her shadow was nicely done, and showed a level of character development that I applaud, especially towards the end of the book.

But the others all felt staid for much of the book. I couldn’t get behind Bronwyn’s motivations for doing what she did to end up on Simon’s radar, and though Nate’s attitude and ‘couldn’t-care-less’ approach to the situation of Simon’s death was understandable from his past and family situation, it still seemed like a generalisation to his character.

It is an entirely readable book, however. The story moves along at a good pace, and it certainly kept me guessing at who the murderer was, with none of the main characters giving anything away. When you discover who kills Simon at the end, it’s almost immediate. I don’t feel there was enough lead-up to it, and the situation when the characters discover who it is just felt a little dull and lifeless. The only saving grace to the discovery was the situation between Addy, Cooper, and Addy’s ex-boyfriend. Yes, I’m keeping the spoilers under lock and key here.

Overall, it was an ok book. As a Young Adult book I feel it was firmly situated in that genre, most likely for younger adults than perhaps 17/18 year-olds. I have read far better Young Adult books with more intricate plotlines and characters, but I guess I can say this is a good book if you’re after something along the High-School-Kids vibe with a lot of teen drama.

I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Thank you to World of Books for my copy, which meant it was secondhand. It looked pretty brand new to me! I’m passing it on to my local charity shop.

Check it out on Goodreads

Purchase it at Waterstones

Buy it Secondhand at World of Books

Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x


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