One of Us is Lying
By: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017
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.
The problem with library school is that when you wander into the YA section of your local library, you end up talking to your friend who is working there and get persuaded into checking out and/or putting holds on like 3 books, when you were just there to amble around and see what the options were. This is also the best thing about library school. Such is my tale–I was coaxed into getting this book from the library, and then I couldn’t put it down for an entire afternoon because it was so good.
The premise is so simple that, as my boyfriend noted, it wasn’t a big leap–Simon, the annoying teen infamous for writing a gossip page outing all of his fellow students bad behavior, dies in detention. Four of his fellow students are in the room when it happens–all of them having been tricked into detention with him, and all of them with grudges, secrets, and reasons to keep all of them quiet. There’s Bronwyn, the future valedictorian; Nate, the drug dealer; Cooper, the All-American baseball champ; and Addy, the blonde dating the quarterback. All of them are under suspicion for murder–and the only way to clear their names is to figure out who actually killed Simon.
The book isn’t necessarily action-filled, or the kind that left me on the edge of my seat–things were taking place over the course of weeks, not days or hours, and although it was suspenseful it wasn’t like ‘ANOTHER DEATH IS IMMINENT’ kind of suspenseful. It was more focused on the mystery, and how it was affecting the four main characters, which was actually way more enjoyable to me than a super action-packed, murder-filled book.
Although the book starts with the four characters being essentially stereotypes, I loved how those stereotypes were broken down and subverted over the course of the book. Especially as secrets come out–McManus handled this SO well. I liked how all four characters, as the secrets came out, made the choice to own them and be open about what they’d done and who they were. The very fact that they had to forced growth. My favorite was Addy, who after her boyfriend broke up with her for her secret, realized he was controlling anyways, that her mom was also toxic, and made the choice to become her own person. Seeing her change over the course of the book was really wonderful, and I loved how McManus subverted the stereotypes associated with her and also showed how women are shaped by unhealthy relationships to keep unhealthy relationships. But all of the characters go through a lot of growth, painful but honest, over the course of the story, which was one of the things I liked the most. I also thought a nice knock-on effect was how the four characters encouraged others to fight back against the toxic environment of school cliques and gossip.
Another thing I liked was how the police are quickly proven to be inept, bordering on maliciously so–and the kids step up. The police ignore evidence, accidentally out a student, allow the school to become a media circus, make an arrest to clear things up and target the only kid who is socioeconomically disadvantaged. But then all of the other characters come to their rescue. I love how they all played different but vital roles in catching the actual person at fault and solving the mystery. My favorite person here was Bronwyn’s little sister Maeve, the chronically ill yet mastermind hacker, who dug up Simon’s internet history and found his obsession with school shooters.
That was another thing–I thought that this book was really clever in examining the horrible things that teens can do to each other. The connection to school shootings was especially relevant, considering how many there are. The fact that the police went after the kid who had a former record and a bad home life, regardless of whether he actually committed the crime, was also unfortunately relevant (there’s a whole scene where the kid’s probation officer points out that he’s the only one that doesn’t have a family willing to fight for him or pour resources into a lawyer for him, and it’s appallingly on point). But, at the end of the day, the true killer gets caught, and the rest of the characters go on to live their separate, no-more-secrets, life. I’ve already put a hold on McManus’ next book, Two Can Keep a Secret, and will be keeping her in mind for every craving I have for a suspenseful mystery from here on out.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.