One of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
Genre: YA, Mystery
Length: 361 Pages
Release date: May 30, 2017
Blurb via GoodReads:
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, 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.
One of Us Is Lying is cheesy, tropey, and immensely fun. The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars description feels seriously apt, and you’ll want to pop a bowl of popcorn to watch this story unfold.
The heavy use of tropes can be a huge pitfall for a novel, but it’s part of the appeal here. The novel seems self-aware about this and characters stop just short of breaking the fourth wall to poke fun at it, particularly Simon, who refers to himself as the “omniscient narrator.”
“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”
McManus makes some effort to play with these character archetypes in unexpected ways. While none of these developments are terribly shocking as they unfold, there is a certain fun in having your suspicions gradually confirmed, and I won’t spoil them here.
One thing I particularly liked was what McManus did with what could have been a typical disastrous YA romance. Brownyn, the Ivy league-bound good girl, gets paired up with Nate, the criminal. Good girl / bad boy pairings in YA are so often seriously problematic, with an insecure girl mooning over a boy that treats her like garbage and the whole thing being held up as the height of romance. Nate and Brownyn seem to have genuine chemistry and affection, built upon years of growing up together, and while Nate isn’t perfect, his flaws come from an understandable place and are paired with a genuine desire and willingness to improve.
This novel was fast-paced, fun, and weirdly cute for a story that starts out with a mysterious death. One of Us Is Lying is a lighthearted, simple book sure to get you out of a reading slump.
Have you read One of Us Is Lying? Share your thoughts in the comments!