Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
What good is a mystery/thriller if you’re not suspecting your favorite character and pretty much everyone mentioned in the book? Brace yourselves YA and mystery fans because One of Us Is Lying is a book set to mess with your brain a little bit and have you guessing all the way to the very end. It’s a very well put together book with a well-constructed storyline and cleverly plotted mystery. I bet many readers won’t guess this right. I’ve had over a dozen speculations about whodunit and who’s the exceptionally skilled liar among the characters. Still, I wasn’t able to hit the bull’s eye in the end.
The mystery was quite intriguing. Four outstanding students quickly turned murder suspects after a fellow student, Simon Kelleher, died in front of them during detention. Simon was widely hated though—being the administrator of a gossip app that has already managed to ruin lives by sharing people’s deepest secrets to the public. Simon’s killer could be anyone from school. And despite being good students it turns out that Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate had secrets to keep and each had a potential motive for killing Simon. Well, I think the lesson from this story is—if you’re smart enough to develop an app, make it something helpful instead of something meant to bring people down so you don’t end up being so alone and hated by everyone to the point that they would wish you were dead.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to admit that sometimes they’re just assholes who screw up because they don’t expect to get caught.
I think this book is more character driven than plot driven. Though the mystery is strong in this one too. Karen M. McManus crafts complex and diverse characters with interesting backgrounds. And I think she managed to capture each of these characters spot on. We follow four POVs in this book—Bronwyn’s, Nate’s, Cooper’s and Addy’s—and each of them is like having a wonderful date with the narrator. We get to know them little by little, we get to see what their world outside school is like, and then we learn about their lives and the lies they tell. Aside from Simon’s death, the skeletons in our main characters’ closets are tiny mysteries too that you’d be eager to uncover.
“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”
I love how close to reality and how believable each character’s arc is. Although I didn’t immediately liked Addy, for me, her reaction as she saw Simon dying represents many of us. Not everyone would know what to do when placed in a situation like that. Cooper’s case was also portrayed beautifully and realistically. It’s sad watching him hide from the people who are supposed to be the first to understand and support him. It’s even sadder knowing that this is happening in the real world. We’re in a modern world but still, many find it difficult to truly be themselves because some of the people they love expects them to be someone else. Bronwyn is your typical brainy girl with spotless record and a bright future ahead. But she’s not perfect. She’s smart but she’s also struggling at some things. Nate is also a typical character in a high school setting but who cares? The boy has got charm that landed him in my Favorite Black Sheep list. And damn if I didn’t ship the romance—so, so much, it’s absurd!
We see the amazing growth of each character from being your usual high school stereotype to someone who stands up for themselves and for the people they love. It’s also good to see the genuine friendship developing slowly between the four of them—knowing that they come from different cliques and had only known each other only by name before the incident. I really appreciate the way they look after each other after being made suspects to Simon’s death.
“Things’ll get worse before they get better.”
One thing I’m most grateful about this book is the fact that each of our protagonists have responsible family members at their back in the length of the investigation. Thank God! I’ve had enough of the absent, negligent, shitty parents in my previous YA reads. I’m looking at you The Lovely Reckless!
Aside from the characters, the author also presents a very realistic setting as she taps into social media and teenage dramas. I particularly loved the way she showed how the media can sometimes influence the way people see a certain situation and how it can take people’s attention from one angle to another.
Overall this is a very impressive, very cleverly done, debut. McManus captured me right from the beginning and shocked me with the twists towards the end. She writes in a clear, simple, and straightforward way. It was addicting. This book effortlessly exceeded my expectations for a debut novel. Everything from the plot, the characters, the twists, was engaging. I think mystery lovers would enjoy this book immensely—probably even those who are not a big YA reader. I’m automatically a Karen McManus fan now and I’ll surely be watching out for more of her future works.