My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a contemporary novel that feels like the brainchild of the Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars. Five students are sent to detention, although they all swear they are innocent – each had a cell phone planted in his or her backpack. They are a motley crew: a princess, a jock, a brainiac, a trouble maker and the omniscient narrator.
Addy, the princess, is popular and has the perfect boyfriend. Cooper, the jock, is being scouted by college baseball coaches and dating the prettiest girl in the school. Bronwyn, the brainiac, is top of her class and from a hard-working family. Nate, the trouble maker, is a drug dealer and currently on probation. Simon is the final student in detention. He created an app and uses it to divulge the secrets of the students in the school. One of the students ends up dead and the other four become suspects – but who really did it?
I was really intrigued by the premise of the book because it was a mystery and it immediately reminded me of the Breakfast Club (with a little addition of murder). The app that everyone at school fears reminded me of “A” from Pretty Little Liars. Gossip is bad enough in high school, imagine having your secrets revealed in detail? The reason the students dislike Simon so much is because so far what he has written has never been wrong. Simon always wanted to be included, but when he didn’t get the attention he felt that he deserved he decided to show that the school wasn’t so perfect after all.
Throughout the book, you grow to like the four suspects and wonder how any of them could have been the murderer. Each grows from being a cliché stereotype into a dimensional person with faults, loves, and depth. This book is very character driven and I liked getting to know each person better through chapters told from their point of view. They felt authentic and flawed, which made me invested in their well-being.
I think it’s best to go into this book not knowing what to expect because then you don’t have any preconceived notions. While I did guess who the murderer was fairly quickly in the book, I don’t feel like it was super obvious so you’re not going to feel bored with the plot. I was also able to guess Cooper’s secret immediately and it did not surprise me in the least. Although I was able to figure out or predict parts of the plot or character relationships really early on there were a number of other reveals though that I didn’t entirely expect.
This was an engaging read and I definitely love the premise, so I’d be interested in reading more books from the same author or along the same lines (YA murder/mystery). I would definitely recommend this to young adult/teen readers who enjoy contemporary novels set in high school that are full of drama and a dash of whodunit?