Review: One Of Us Is Lying

One of us is lying

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday 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 bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, 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 Thursday, he died. But on Friday, 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 just 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.


This book was kindly provided to me for honest review by the Publisher via Netgalley. This has not impacted on the content of this review, which it my own honest opinion.


One of us is lying started out very breakfast club with five teens heading to an after-school detention, before spinning off in its own, murder mystery direction. The inspiration for this book is clear, but it’s in the storytelling that One of us is lying really shines. The characters are introduced as stereotypes, they don’t really know each other past the characteristic they are known by, and this is acknowledged early on in the text. But then our four main characters are tied together by the shocking death of their classmate, and the suspicion which falls upon them.

The story is split between the perspectives of the four students in the detention at the time of the murder. They are the prime suspects, and they all have secrets. Secrets which were about to be exposed on a gossip app run by Simon, the victim. This gives them all motive, and the police argue, opportunity. This is where the book keeps you guessing. Even though you read the points of view of the suspects, they still have secrets, and the book keeps you questioning who you can really trust for a long time.

While all this was going on, I was also becoming attached to the characters. Karen M. McManus skillfully crafted complex, flawed characters and at the same time, made me care about them. Feel for them. Through out the narrative the characters are developed far beyond their stereotypes. I’m not going to talk about the characters individually, beyond what is in the synopsis, because I feel like that would spoil the story, information is revealed so carefully at just the right time in the book. I don’t want to spoil that reading experience for anyone.

Social media is a big part of how this story works, with tumblr posts and the gossip app stirring things up throughout the whole school. I felt like this was really well done, it’s important to remember how social media impacts daily life, and things like privacy and bullying. The way the notoriety of the four main characters were handled, as suspects in the eyes of the media also felt really authentic, with them being judged by their appearance and stereotypes. The whole thing felt very plausible, which in itself is a statement on how invasive the media can be to satisfy the curiosity of the masses.

Before I finish, I’m going to include a content warning for suicide, bullying, homophobia and slut shaming. These are all dealt with as part of the story, they are not glorified, but they may still effect readers who are sensitive to these issues. So just be careful going in.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was gripped by the story enough that I kept reading past what is a reasonable bed time more than once. It kept me guessing for the longest time, and had me worrying for the characters. The ending was satisfying, with an epilogue three months after the mystery is solved, which gave closure to the characters. It’s a sign of great character development that I still didn’t want to leave the characters, even as the story was over. Honestly this is an incredibly strong debut, and I am looking forward to seeing what Karen M. McManus does next.

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