One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Release date: June 1st, 2017 by Penguin Random House UK
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: 4/5 stars – truly enjoyed it
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Synopsis: 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?
Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I have also done a video review on this book, which you can find on my YouTube channel! Another thing I never thought I’d say: I actually agree with the way a book was pitched for once. The pitch for this book was ‘Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars’. And I think that’s a pretty good way of describing it!
So, what’s the story about? It’s about 5 teenagers who get detention. Bronwyn, the nerd. Nate, the criminal. Addy, the pretty and good girl. Cooper, the jock. And Simon, the gossip. Simon has an app called About That, to which he posts rumors about his fellow students. They are never wrong. During detention, Simon gets killed and obviously the focus of the investigation is the 4 students who were with him at the time. Yet they all insist that they didn’t murder him. So who’s lying?
If you don’t think this premise sounds great, then what is up with you? It sound epic. And I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. But I ended up really enjoying it!
At first, I read some reviews saying the characters were too stereotypical. And yes, for the first part of the novel they are pretty much a stereotype. But isn’t that the whole point of The Breakfast Club? These teenagers all get put together. They are stereotypes too: the popular girl, the criminal, the nerd, etc. But as they get to know each other, and you get to know them, you find out that there’s much more to these people than just who they appear to be. And I think Karen McManus did exactly the same thing in One of Us Is Lying. At first, they seem pretty stereotypical. But as you get to know them, you learn that there’s so much more to them than this label they’ve gotten.
Bronwyn, the brain. Bronwyn Rojas is on a path leading directly to Yale. She has the best grades, and school and studying is what is most important to her. Aside from her family, of course.
Nate, the criminal. Nate is on probation, because he was caught dealing drugs. He still does, now they just can’t catch him anymore.
Addy, the popular and good girl. She’s the sweet girl who is beautiful but not model-gorgeous, with the jock boyfriend.
Cooper, the athlete. Although not the aforementioned jock boyfriend. Baseball is Cooper’s entire life.
Simon, the outcast. Who is the guy behind the app that has ruined so many teenagers’ lives?
I think these characters were all pretty interesting. At first, I really didn’t like Addy. I thought she was such a doormat when she was with her boyfriend and it annoyed me to no end. Which you can see in my Goodreads updates. There’s one moment when they are going to a beach party in the evening. And she’s wearing a shirt and sneakers because it’ll be cold. Her boyfriend takes a look at her, and tells her that she should maybe change into something more form-fitting, because after all, isn’t he there to keep her warm? And SHE DOES. SHE CHANGES. GIRL. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. YOU SET THAT IDIOT ON FIRE TO KEEP YOURSELF WARM. So yeah, I was not a fan. But by the middle to end of the story, I was basically Addy’s biggest cheerleader. Doesn’t that tell you something about the stereotypes being erased?
I really enjoyed Bronwyn and Nate’s stories too. At first, I have to admit, I thought: is this going to lead to a romance? Because I think these people have some other shit to deal with. But I ended up really enjoying the way Karen McManus dealt with it.
I ended up really attached to all of the main characters, something I certainly couldn’t envision when I started it.
I had a blast trying to figure out who was lying. Well, lying about the murder. They are all lying about something. But then again, who isn’t? We all have those aspects of our lives we don’t necessarily want to share with others.
When I was about 60-70% in, I had this crazy theory. And I ended up being partially right!! I was kind of proud of myself. Usually, I don’t like it when I can guess (part) of the big reveal in a murder mystery. But in this case, I wasn’t bothered by it at all. I actually found it even more fun, to see it unravel. I caught myself reading faster, thinking: “am I going to be right??”
I think this was quite an impressive read. I had a lot of fun reading it, both with regards to the mystery and to the characters. I found it quite interesting that she stuck to the theme of the Breakfast Club: are these people really just a stereotype or label? Or is there more to them? I’d highly recommend it, if you’re interested in the premise. I might just buy myself a copy for my shelves too.
There are some aspects of diversity in these books. Bronwyn’s dad is Colombian, and he moved to the US later in his life. I’m not entirely sure whether that was before or after he had kids. So the Rojas family is Latinx. There is also an LGBTQIA+ main character.
Sexism is alive and well in true-crime coverage, because Bronwyn and I aren’t nearly as popular with the general public as Cooper and Nate.
“It concerns me you’re avoiding a promise not to murder me.”
Nonny lets out a theatrical sigh. “Well, goddamn. You boys are pretty, but not helpful from a practical standpoint.”