One of Us Is Lying is the debut novel of Karen M. McManus. It’s a murder-mystery that follows a group of four teens who were present when a student dies during their detention, in which they are all suspects after the odd circumstances of the student’s death come to light.
The victim, Simon was widely hated throughout the school due to his gossip app that ruined many student’s lives.
Bronwyn is a straight-a student and future valedictorian who doesn’t break rules.
Cooper is a Ken-doll like baseball pitcher who is highly scouted by many colleges and MLB teams.
Addy is a homecoming queen beauty whose whole life revolves around the decisions her boyfriend makes for her.
Nate is on probation for drug-dealing who is constantly in trouble with the law and has fractured family.
These students, however, aren’t just one-note stereotypes, Simon was going to publish an article about them which would uncover all of the parts of them that they would wish to keep secret. When the Police find the archived article in Simon’s app, all of the students become suspects.
Bottom Line: I read this amazing book in one day, because I was so hooked and couldn’t put it down. Before that, I was in a major reading slump, and this book dug me out of that hole. I would recommend this to lovers to murder mysteries and YA readers.
My Rating: 9/10
Now, if you haven’t read the book, I would suggest that you stop reading here. I’m about to get into some serious spoilers.
Since this book is a murder mystery and a twist on the classic who-done-it, the ending can make or break the book. In my opinion, the ending fits the book nicely. None of the four main character are the murderer, which is proven through showing the action of the book from their alternating points of view and that none of the characters that the reader had grown to like turned out to be the murderer.
It also didn’t take the easy way out by pining the crime on a random minor character like Janae, Jake or the teacher. They were characters that didn’t carry emotional weight and would be an easy route for the author to go on. But no, she didn’t. The murder was Simon, in a twist that you could kind of see coming after they started to uncover the mystery, but seemed almost impossible to actually be true.
Simon’s suicide is a depressing outcome to a murder mystery, but it brings uncomfortable topics to light and shows how far a depressed kid with go to make sure that he makes as many people who wronged him suffer as possible. Additionally, it is also a cautionary tale about how the smallest actions can make the largest impact.
At the beginning of the book the characters seem to all be tropes that you see in your average YA novel, the nerd, the jock, the beauty queen and the outsider. Mainly, that’s because they are. To me, one of the best parts about this book was that you got to see the character grow into likable characters who change due to the events happening in the book.
Addy, for example, was a pitiful girl obsessed with her hair and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Jack, controls her life and even isn’t that nice to her while doing it. Her whole life revolves around him and she’s unlikable. However, by the end of the book, Addy has broken up with Jack, cut her hair short, and became a vital part in the investigation of finding out who really killed Simon. In detention scene, she is useless, scrambling around, freaking out, and ending up in a total meltdown afterwards. In contrast to that, in the end, she figures the answer to the murder mystery by going to Janae’s house and questioning her to understand who the true murderer was.
Nate also has lots of character development, which is shown when he sticks up for Cooper and falls in love with his polar opposite, Bronwyn. He stays out of trouble (for the most part) and tries to restart his relationship with his mom. At the beginning of the book, the rest of the three are sure that Nate is guilty of the crime, but when he is arrested towards the end of the book, they do anything in their power to prove that he is innocent.
Bronwyn probably evolves the least, but she still changed for the better. She kept most of her defining characteristics, like her intelligence and determination, but let herself go a little bit and stopped being super uptight. She fell in love with Nate, a “bad boy”, who she realizes actually isn’t that bad.
My favorite transformation, however, was Cooper’s. He starts out as a boring stereotypical jock who is destined for an even more mundane stereotypical life in the MLB. He is dating one of the prettiest, most popular girls in school and hangs out with the popular clique. For a while, it seemed like Cooper was going to stay that way. He was likable enough, being sweet to Addy after her meltdown and trying desperately to find an Epi Pen for Simon, but he seemed like a forgettable character that would disappear from your mind after you finished the book.
In one paragraph, Cooper’s character becomes a thousand times more interesting. We meet Kris, the guy that Cooper is in love with, and suddenly, Cooper isn’t a boring jock. He’s hiding the fact that he’s gay underneath a facade of perfectness. Cooper has to come to terms with his sexuality and stop hiding his true self from everyone. He has to come out to his homophobic dad, and his MLB and college offers disappear out of thin air. However, when Cooper finally comes to terms who he really is and a prominent figure stands up for him in the media, his college and MLB offers come back through the pipeline and his dad takes steps on the road to acceptance. Just to solidify Cooper development, he chooses to go to the college continued their offer with him when Cooper was under fire for being gay, even though that school wasn’t even in the top ten.
Those are the reasons why the book was impossible to put down for me, if you have read the book (and hopefully you have if you have gotten to this point), then what was your favorite part of the book?
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