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Review of One of Us is Lying

July 11, 2017

Review of One of Us is Lying

One of Us is Lying is a debut Young Adult title from Karen McManus which is swiftly making its way into bestseller lists. One of the biggest draws for readers is that it’s “like The Breakfast Club, but with murder”, as the author puts it. Like the 80s classic, One of Us is Lying deftly portrays what life is like as a teenager during a particular moment in time - where The Breakfast Club captures the unique experience of being a teenager in 1985, One of Us is Lying does the same for 2017, while also playing out a thrilling murder mystery.

“like The Breakfast Club, but with murder”

Five students end up in detention together: Bronwyn the ‘brain’; Addy the ‘princess’; Cooper the ‘athlete’; Nate the ‘criminal’; and Simon - the victim. When Simon goes into anaphylactic shock and passes away after drinking from a cup coated in peanut oil, all the attention and suspicion lands on his fellow detention-goers. Simon was never well-liked in the school, as the creator of a gossip app that he would use to single out and expose his fellow students,  so the list of suspects is endless. But the four students who were in the room with him each have something extra to hide. As the mystery unfolds, bonds are made and broken, and the characters are forced to consider what really matters and make the most difficult decisions of their lives.

"keeps you guessing right up until the end"

Too often in Young Adult fiction, the writing can come across as incredibly out of touch and slightly embarrassing to read. McManus, however, avoids YOLOs and OMGs like the plague and succeeds in creating characters that are, while deliberately archetypal, believable and well-rounded. Each of the four main characters takes turns in narrating sections of the story, and these multiple points of view make it impossible to know who is telling the truth. As readers we see snippets of each of their lives, and are forced to formulate our own theories in such an engaging way - because not only can the characters lie to each other and the police, this structure allows them to lie to the reader as well. The unreliable narrator is a well-known technique in the literary world, as is the difficult multi-POV, and McManus uses both masterfully. As a reader you find yourself doubting everything you read, wondering what the characters aren’t showing you. The suspense is brilliantly maintained, and keeps you guessing right up until the end.

This is a well thought-out mystery, each piece of the puzzle gradually slotting into place to finally create a full picture of what actually happened that day. One of Us is Lying is a credit to its author, as well as the Young Adult genre, and has an appeal that reaches far beyond the target YA audience.

Written by Ellen, Marketing

  • One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
    One Of Us Is Lying

    Five students enter detention, but only four leave alive. How far would they go to protect their deepest secrets?

    View Book

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