This is a spoiler-free review. I will not be giving away any major plot details beyond the premise of the book.
One Of Us Is Lying is the debut novel of Karen M. McManus. The young adult mystery follows four teenagers who become the prime suspects in a murder investigation after being the only witnesses to the death of their peer, Simon, in detention. Simon was well-known around the school for his gossip app, and the four suspects each had a secret that was set to be published online by Simon just twenty-four hours after his death. The police are certain that at least one of them are guilty. But who?
Since this is a spoiler-free review, I won’t be revealing the answer to that question. But I will say that I was genuinely surprised when the killer was revealed. There were clues placed throughout the novel that made it seem so obvious. I think if you looked at it hard enough or if you’ve read enough mystery novels it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out. Some aspects of this mystery were a bit predictable, but not in a way that ruined the reveal or the story behind it. Maybe other people who read this book will see the end coming from a mile away, but I don’t think that would completely ruin the story because what strikes me the most about the reveal isn’t who killed Simon, but why they did it.
Even aside from the plot, this book had a great cast of characters. There’s Bronwyn, the geek; Cooper, the jock; Nate, the bad boy; and Addy, the popular girl. When you first look at those labels it sounds like a total cliche – and it is, in the beginning. In the first chapter, there’s even jokes about how that group of people ending up in detention together is a typical 90’s teen movie. But the further into the novel you get, the more you realise that there’s so much more to these characters. And I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point. It’s clear that McManus is making a point about stereotypes. McManus succeeds at giving these characters originality by taking them out of these boxes and developing them thoroughly as the story progresses. By the end of the book, which had a satisfying conclusion, I found myself sad that the journey with these characters was over.
The book is written in split-perspectives between these four characters, each one in first-person, present-tense. The one issue I did have was that it felt like each character had the same voice. There was nothing about the language apart from the dialogue to separate these characters, which is important in split-perspective novels. In saying that, this is something that is incredibly hard to achieve, and McManus has beautiful writing and well fleshed-out characters, so it’s easy to overlook.
I definitely recommend this book. I think anyone who loves mystery novels or books about high school should add it to the top of their ever-growing pile of unread books immediately. I predict that within the year, this will be picked up by Netflix to become their next big show.
MY RATING: 9/10
READ IF YOU ENJOYED:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
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