Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
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Karen McManus’ debut novel One of Us is Lying has been advertised as part Pretty Little Liars and part The Breakfast Club. I’d say those comparisons are spot on, but I’d also add in a dash of Gossip Girl to give a more complete picture of what this book is about.
As the novel begins, it is immediately reminiscent of The Breakfast Club. Five high school students who don’t typically hang out or know each other all that well end up in after school detention together. There’s Addy, the beautiful homecoming princess-type; Cooper, the superstar athlete; Bronwyn, the Yale-bound goodie two shoes; Nate, a delinquent who is already on probation for dealing drugs; and finally there’s Simon, who is somewhat of an outcast but also the creator of a gossip app that all of their fellow students are obsessed with (Cue the Gossip Girl comparison). No one was sure how he did it, but Simon always managed to dig up the juiciest bits of gossip about his fellow classmates and made it his business to expose anyone and everyone.
Where the comparison to The Breakfast Club basically ends is that instead of this “Breakfast Club” ending up with these seemingly different students bonding and becoming friends, this detention ends up in death. Something happens and Simon dies in the classroom. At first it appears to be a tragic accident, but once the police start investigating, it becomes clear that Simon’s death was not an accident. An as yet-unpublished draft for his gossip app indicates that Simon was about to post some seriously juicy gossip about Addy, Bronwyn, Nate, and Cooper, which bumps them up to the top of the list of prime suspects. The central question at this point becomes: How far will someone go to protect their secret? Murder? (And cue up the Pretty Little Liars comparison).
Okay, so I have to admit that both Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars are guilty pleasure shows for me. I binge watched both of them and am disappointed that both series have ended. So when I heard about this book, I knew I just had to read it. I love a good thriller/mystery anyway, but this just sounded perfect for me.
I think what I enjoyed the most about the novel was exactly what I loved about those two shows – the thrilling pace, the endless twists and turns, and never knowing from one moment to the next who’s going to be on the hot seat. What do I mean? Well, let’s just say there’s someone out there behind the scenes who is pulling the strings of the investigation and making each one of the main suspects look guilty as hell. Everyone’s heads are spinning, including mine, trying to figure out if one of the four students who were in detention are actually guilty or if they are just pawns in a sick game and the real murderer is still out there somewhere. I was already thoroughly engrossed in the story as soon as it was revealed that Simon was dead, but the added tension of someone possibly trying to frame these kids for murder made it so I literally could not put this book down until I knew the truth about what had happened.
Although this book is mainly about solving the mystery, there is some great character development in it. Of the four main suspects, Addy was by far my favorite character. At first she’s just this pretty shell of a girl who dresses the way her boyfriend wants her to, goes where he wants her to, and is more of an extension of him than she is her own person. Simon’s death, the ensuing investigation, and all that comes out really changes her though and she becomes downright badass by about the midway point of the book. When the police investigation just seems to keep going in circles that are being drawn by the puppet master behind the scenes, Addy is one of the main ones to take matters into her own hands to try figure out who the real killer is.
My biggest issue with One of Us is Lying is that there’s not enough distinction between the different characters’ voices. The story unfolds from the viewpoint of the four accused teens and is told in alternating chapters from each of them. However, no matter whose perspective a chapter was coming from, I found myself having to flip back and see whose name was at the beginning of the chapter. And that wasn’t just happening early on in the book as I was getting to know the characters. It happened pretty consistently throughout the book and was a little frustrating since I wanted to plow through the book to find out who was responsible for Simon’s death and didn’t want to keep backtracking.
I think whether or not you would enjoy this book depends on how much you enjoy entertainment along the lines of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl since One of Us is Lying does play on so many of the same themes and types of characters and contains similar drama. If those aren’t your cup of tea, this book may not be for you.
RATING: 3.5 STARS
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.
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.