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  • Writer's pictureLilie

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus | Thoughts On

About the book:

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.

Kindle Edition has 360 pages


Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Romance, Crime

About the author:

Karen McManus is known for her Young Adult thriller novels. One of Us is Lying is the first book of hers that I read and am planning to read her other books in the future. I can't agree yet that her work is superb until I've read at least one or two more of her works because I honestly did not enjoy One of Us is Lying.


** spoiler alert **

Spoilers of the story within this post. These are my thoughts about the novel.

I've read good reviews about this book and the way it was "#1 New York Times best selling" kinda adds to the glamour that this is going to be good.

I had a couple of choices to choose from last May 2021 and the summary of One of Us is Lying is very appealing. So I started with this book. I was reeled in by the mystery. The idea makes you think the murderer is one of them and I am intrigued how this was pulled off. To my disappointment, the big reveal that the entire story has been building up did not end up as a big reveal that it wants it to be.

What I loved about the book

1. The summary was catchy and the premise was a good start.

We got to meet the characters and the scene was not too slow and not too fast. It hooked me up and the next six chapters or so was a real page turner until I hit a point of 'the pacing feels too slow and stretched out'.

2. Character development.

Bronwyn's character has a good development from the shy genius to a bold romantically in-love hero.

Addy's character I really hated at the first half or more of the book until she and Janae talked and she faced Jake. She turned out really awesome with that big change she had.

3. Suspense/Mystery.

What kept me reading was the tingling feeling of wanting to know WHO the killer was AND how the killer pulled it off. The continuous drops of Tumblr posts kept the hype going and the reveal of Simon's posts that provides the possible 'motives' of our 4 suspects. The 'how' was really interesting because it would be uncommon plot twist that the impossible crime was committed by someone else who isn't the victim committing suicide.

What I did NOT love about the book

1. Minor characters that didn't feel like they mattered.

We have Bronwyn's parents who are both her persecutors and her shield to avoid answering her interrogation.

Cooper's parents are the typical kind of parents in the background.

Friends who are there but it didn't feel like they had much of a part in the story. There was Maeve who contributed more but the rest of them like Bronwyn's friends or Jake's gang who were there for props. I don't know, this one could be just me. But they are like Once Upon A Time's Storybrooke citizens. What the news tell them, that's what they believe and they go with the flow like they are not a character of their own. I get it Addy said that this is how they will determine who their real friends are, but it just feels empty.

Basically the characters feel so irrelevant that you don't even bother to care about them. Let alone remember who in the world they are again and why they exist.

2. Stretched to too many pages.

After the incident at detention, we later get to see the lives of the 4 characters in their POVs. I understand they are depressed, frustrated and upset that they are were treated differently by classmates and friends, persecuted by family and friends, suspects and are being framed for murder but I felt like the hype started when they actually started with the investigation and was getting somewhere. The pace was good but it felt like it was overstretching the drama or maybe because I just got disappointed with the big reveal.

3. Big Reveal.

This is what I have been waiting for the entire book. After Simon's murder and the hype building up to this moment, it was not as big as I thought would be. Turns out the killer was not one of the 4 suspects. And the 'impossible murder case' turns out to be suicide and not murder. The hype was still there as I read but then the action wrapped up faster than I could finish the scene in my head.

4. Rebound guy

I ship Bronwyn and Nate, I really do. And their scenes are cute and sweet and I love reading it than the other POVs. But after they broke up at the ending and 3 months later they start again as friends. Bronwyn got a rebound Evan, which I get is because she wants to get over Nate but for her character who did not seem interested in relationships until Nate to jump into a new one. She could have just focused on studies or music or friends and when Nate comes back and they start as friends, the Evan guy wouldn't feel like a prop.

5. Addy is full of drama.

She is rich in drama, to which I did not mind when I reached the part where they started to investigate together. I can let this one slide at least.

6. Shaming.

Because Simon's app is all about revealing his classmate's secrets, then one way or another, all of them has secrets. Whether it's cheating in exams or cheating in a relationship, it's not like only ONE person has committed it in the entire school. So why are they acting like a mob against our 4 suspects? And why are they judging the 4 for 'murdering' Simon when deep inside at least some of them would have hated Simon too. In reality, there would be at least a small number of grateful people (even if it was murder).

7. Simon Kelleher.

His depression was not evident nor were there any signs or any foreshadowing of the sort that this was the issue. And then at the ending part we were bombshelled that he was depressed so he wants to die with a bang. Maybe no one liked him before the app, and people disliked him after the app existed, but it did not feel like it was the perfect excuse to commit what he did. Maybe if he were a psychopath or sociopath then I wouldn't mind of his actions.

8. Cooper and Nate.

I did not feel Cooper's character very much within the novel. He is like Al from Divergent who is there to support and that's it. He saved Addy and that was a big one, but it did not feel like-- there is something in his character that I am looking for-- like maybe something to make him stand up as the character he is supposed to be.

Nate is the bad boy trope in the novel. When he got out of jail and had this thought that he was the only one without contribution to the investigation, he felt that correctly. Of course the bad boy has to be handsome with morals and small fire of feelings for Bronwyn and playing Tsundere. His character was good but other than his romancing with Bronwyn and being the easy target to frame, he did not do much really.

Overall, I am not saying the book is all bad.

It just feels like there is more to it than prop and background characters.

Goodreads review: click here

Goodreads profile: click here

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