Monday, 5 June 2017

'One of Us is Lying', by Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us is Lying
Author(s): Karen M. McManus
Release Date: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: YA, Thriller
Source: Publisher (ARC)

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.


This will be terribly complicated to review, because the less you know about the book the better before you dive in, but I will try and convey in the best way just how much I loved it!

The story begins just before the inciting moment of the story, so you only have a chance to briefly meet all the characters before one of them is violently convulsing on a detention room floor. Simon, the controversial creator of a gossip app that seems to expose all the juicy secrets from Bayview High's students, is the victim, and the way in which he dies sheds suspicion on everyone that was in the room with him: Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper, and even Mr. Avery, the teacher, are thought to have been the murderer. Simon was widely disliked in the school for what he did, but would anyone actually go as far as killing him for it?

I am a big fan of books of this genre, as I tend to obsessively try and find clues and figure out who the killer is before it is revealed to us, and this was straight up my alley. From the very beginning you are hooked into being invested into the lives of these people, as there are points of view from all the students that are accused of killing Simon. Initially it was slightly confusing trying to figure out who was who, even with the chapter headers with each of their names, but soon their voices started emerging and you really start believing (and hoping) that none of them did it, as you learn more about each of the characters.

I will not get into the plot much, for obvious reasons, but one of the things I loved about this story was how, even being centered around finding out who killed Simon, it still manages to very expertly approach themes that are very important and relevant to teenagers: managing expectations of success, abusive relationships, love, absentee parents, family vs. school... Even though I haven't been a teenager in a while, I easily found myself relating to all of these characters' experiences, as they are so vividly and accurately developed. I almost had to go pick up my ID to double check my age, because I definitely felt like I was back in high school while I was reading this book!

Being a sucker for good character development, I was overjoyed by how much all of the characters in this book grew through the course of the story. Having been brought together by such a traumatic events, people that would not have usually been connected in such a 'cliquey' setting as a high school discover that they actually fit with each other as a unit, even if for that to happen something about themselves that they wished to keep hidden eventually comes out. There certainly are plenty of lies flying around in this book, so you will definitely be kept busy trying to unravel them all.

My favorite character to see blossom was definitely Addy, the seemingly shallow and empty headed homecoming queen. I have seen a lot of people that have already read this book love Addy to pieces, and I can easily see why. As much as this book brings back vibes of 'The Breakfast Club', I dare you to read Addy's story and not end it with a victorious air punch! She is the perfect example of how a strong female character does not necessarily mean a physically imposing, kicking-ass-and-taking-names girl, and I wish there were more stories like hers out there in YA.

The unraveling of the mystery was very satisfying, and even though I had thought of that option during my reading (along with many others, you really get into your Sherlock Holmes shoes with this one), in no way did I feel cheated or did the ending seem far fetched to me. It was utterly original and well weaved into the story, with plenty of clues to take you there but also false herrings to keep you on your toes. The only thing I would point out somewhat negatively was the use of a mental illness almost as a justification for evil actions, which can perpetuate stereotypes about mentally ill people. However, as someone that personally has suffered from such illness, I think it just barely makes it out of the outright problematic portrayal. It's hard to explain without spoiling it, but I wanted to mention it anyway as a caveat: after some thought I didn't find it immediately problematic, but others might.

This book is compared to 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Pretty Little Liars', but I would without a doubt add 'Gossip Girl' to that list. Intrigue, romance, drama, a murder to solve... This story has it all. Fantastically written, it will have you hooked from the first page. Clear your schedule, you will not be able to stop reading it once you begin!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness!!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this review! I've been meaning to read this book but I keep putting it off! After reading this review, I know I need to get right to it!

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    I look forward to reading more of your reviews!!