Book Review: One of Us Is Lying

Book Review:  One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 361
Source: Library


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  An as yet-unpublished draft for his gossip app indicates that Simon was about to post some seriously juicy gossip about Addy, Bronwyn, Nate, and Cooper, which bumps them up to the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.





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.


About Karen M. McManus

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

10 replies
  1. Elise @ Roaming Reader
    Elise @ Roaming Reader says:

    tbh I’m skimming this review bc I’m curious about this novel but think I want to go in kinda blind. Your final thoughts make me think I’ll enjoy this as a guilty pleasure read!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I think the less you know, the better. Plot-wise I tried not to expand much beyond the Goodreads blurb, but I think the plot becomes even more full of twists and turns if you don’t even read that before jumping in. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Wendy @ Birdie Bookworm
    Wendy @ Birdie Bookworm says:

    It seems like everyone is reading this book lately. I don’t know why it doesn’t grab me. Maybe because I’m not into the Gossip Girl type shows. Maybe eventually I’ll give it a try.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It does seem like everyone is reading this book right now. We must have all gotten our reserve library books at the same time, haha. Yeah, I would say that if you’re not into those Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liar shows, this could be a struggle to get into. It’s a good mystery, but there’s a lot of drama too. This was a guilty pleasure read for me.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, even with that issue, it’s still a really fun read, especially if you enjoy what I call guilty pleasure drama.

  3. sydneyeditor1
    sydneyeditor1 says:

    Oooh, interesting, someone is behind the scenes? I did not realise that — great review, Suzanne, I think you’ve just piqued my interest even more!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I think the person behind the scenes adds a whole new layer to the story since that person keeps manipulating the evidence. Figuring out who that mystery person is becomes a mystery within the mystery, so to speak.

  4. Di @ Book Reviews by Di
    Di @ Book Reviews by Di says:

    Oh, I remember Greg reviewing this one and it made me want to read it. I have to admit that I haven’t watched PLL or GG, but they’re up there on my ‘one-day-when-I-have-time-to-watch-TV-again’ list.

    I love that the book seems so engrossing and that it manages to incorporate some character development too.

    It’s a little sad though that none of the voices were distinctive and I think that would frustrate me too.

    Overall I do still want to read this one and I think it will be enjoyable!

    Great review as always Suzanne!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, even with the issue I had with the voices, I still think it was a quick and exciting read, especially if you’re in the mood for some drama and lots of twists and turns.

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