One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published by Delacorte Press in 2017
Genre: YA Mystery
One Of Us Is Lying is probably the book I was most excited for this year. So it makes me a little sad to say I have mixed feelings about it. I will say that overall it is a quick, enjoyable read, and one I would recommend to others.
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.
Is what had me so completely and immediately intrigued. I had heard the pitch that many people had: that One Of Us Is Lying is The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. I was ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic. I adore The Breakfast Club; it has been one of my favorite movies for around fifteen years. And while I’ve fallen off a little, I enjoyed the shit out of Pretty Little Liars for around five seasons. So needless to say I was pumped about this book.
For me, though, it wasn’t really like either of these. What it did have was a distinct Gossip Girl vibe, and I think that distinction is an important one.
When I heard the premise, I guess I had a different vision. The Breakfast Club is the comparison you can’t escape, it’s everywhere. But TBC is entirely set in the school, almost entirely in one room. So what I didn’t expect was the detention in this story to be over so quickly. Simon dies in the first couple pages, and while it sets everything in motion, the detention is just less of the story than I was expecting. I don’t know why that’s so important to me. Maybe because everyone is so determined to compare this to TBC, and the beauty of TBC is that these kids are forced to be together, in one room, with no way out. The kids in One Of Us Is Lying don’t even interact that much for a good portion of the book.
I had thought that I would really hate the tropes. The bad boy, the good girl, the jock, the homecoming queen. We’ve seen these. We know these. (This, btw, is I think why it keeps getting compared to TBC, even though these stereotypical characters can be found in 90% of YA Lit.) Thankfully, the stereotypes are truly turned on their heads.
The Bayview Four kids are awesome. Truly. Wonderful characters, each with their own distinct personality, story arc, and agency. I adored them all by the big twist, and was horrified by the prospect of any of them having committed the murder. The secondary characters are also believable and incredibly likable; the siblings of the accused are phenomenal and even have their own shit to deal with.
I will say that one of the reasons this gave me a Gossip Girl vibe is that that is how the kids act. While they are being investigated as possible murderers, they are considerably more concerned with the seeming inevitability that their secrets could get out. I can’t imagine any scenario in which I or anyone I know would say “I know I’m being investigated for murder, but my boyfriend is going to find out…” Now, I’m a mother, and a decade away from having been a teenager, but still. I don’t remember being quite that irrational.
Is good. The slow release of information Is spot on for a fast-paced, easy-to-read story. It is less twisty than I expected, though. It all follows a pretty natural progression, and I didn’t have to keep reading until about the last 100 pages.
Now, I fancy myself a smarty-pants, but I didn’t see the twist coming until right before it happened. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed, and I LOVED how it worked out and everything that followed the reveal. I did see a lot of reviewers saying they figured it out pretty early on though, so keep that in mind
Is that this is a fun, exciting, quick and easy read that, at the very least, doesn’t disappoint in any major ways. I think it brings up a ton of great points about mental health and wellness, and a lot of the terrible shit that goes down in high school that we don’t give teenagers enough credit for dealing with.