4/5 stars – a suspicious death, witty dialogue and a plot to keep you guessing (and keep you awake at night), One of Us is Lying was such a refreshing take on the YA murder mystery genre!!
Title: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Synopsis: 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?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
“I guess we’re almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you’re not one hundred percent sure the other person isn’t framing you for murder.“One of Us Is Lying, Karen M. McManus
I’m not really sure what I expected going into this one. I’ve been seeing it everywhere for the last few years, and just not picking it up. Then while in the midst of my fantasy slump (see my mental break down about this in my “SOS!! I’m in a Slump” post here: https://lolaslibrary.home.blog/2020/01/20/sos-im-in-a-slump/), I found myself falling down the YA murder mystery/thriller rabbit hole and finally (FINALLY) picked it up off the shelf and took it home, and boy am I glad I did!!
I ended up reading this book in under twenty four hours – something I haven’t done for a while. I literally started it before bed, stayed up WAY too long reading it and then got up WAY too early to keep reading it the next morning. It’s one of those unputdownable, fast paced books that you need to finish in one go because you can’t handle not-knowing what’s happening.
Despite how much I actually enjoyed this book, the writing style was probably my least favourite thing about it. It shared perspectives between the four main characters/murder suspents Bronwyn, Nate, Addy and Cooper and was told in present time, first person. I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of thing to start with, and I get why this book was told this way, but at times the characters voices felt too similar and it was hard to remember whose point of view you were reading (particularly when the scene had the four of them together).
My other issue with this writing style as well was the info-dumpy start to the book (which I can sort of forgive because to get to know four seperate protagonists and solve a murder mystery in under 400 pages you gotta get as much out there as possible), but it was a little too much when it was done for four different characters in like one or two chapters in a row. Personally I felt like it meant I couldn’t get to know each character properly. The length of the book also felt like the character growths happened very quickly and almost unnaturally, but again, I can forgive this because there’s just so much info you kind of need to know about everyone.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the characters. Oh my Lord, Nate and Bronwyn were so cute!!!!! Honestly, I was reading this book for them. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Addy and Cooper and their stories too, but sometimes they felt like they were just thrown in for the sake of it and they also felt the least developed to me. But I was living for Nate and Bronwyn and their relationship was honestly the best part of this book for me.
Also the plot of this book was spectacular. And guess what – I DIDN’T GUESS THE ENDING. The reveal worked so well (although it is slightly controversial and I’m not sure how a lot of people would react to it – but I loved it). All these puzzled pieces that didn’t make sense fell into place in the most perfect way and I absolutely loved the ending. These thriller, murder mystery types can get a bit repetitive after a while, but while this one had a few cringe cliches through it, it was also such a fresh take on the genre and I’m so happy about it. Props to McManus for her plot and execution!!
Overall, I definitely recommend this one if you were a fan of Gossip Girl and/or Pretty Little Liars and love a good “everyone is suspicious, what the f**k is going on” type story, and I’m super excited to get stuck into the sequel!!
Links for the book and author:
Karen M. McManus on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15127507.Karen_M_McManus
One of Us is Lying on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32571395-one-of-us-is-lying?from_search=true&qid=8cFII5mKwd&rank=1