One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published: May 30, 2017, Delacorte Press
Reviewed by Kirsten Lowe
Five students have detention one afternoon; Cooper, the star baseball player trying to decide between college and the major leagues; Bronwyn, the class valedictorian who plans on following the family tradition by attending Yale; Addy, the picture perfect homecoming princess/mean girl; Nate, the bad boy who is on probation for dealing drugs.
The every day, stereotypical labels — the nerd, the jock, the bad boy and the popular girl — with a small twist. There is one more character that joins these four in detention and that is the despised Simon. He’s that student who has nothing better to do with his life than spill out his classmate’s darkest secrets on his gossip blog about Bayview High. So it’s no surprise he’s hated, and it’s definitely no surprise he ends up dead by the time detention is over.
Investigators also discovered that Simon had planned on posting juicy information about Addy, Nate, Cooper and Bronwyn — information that could destroy what some of them had worked so hard for, or make whatever situation their living in worse. Suddenly the four of them are the suspects in Simon’s murder, their own ‘cliques’ cast them away and (ironically) while the four are being investigated, the rest of the students make a huge scene mourning Simon, but the reality is that they hated him just as much as the four did. It should be an easy case, but each claims their innocence, so how can they pick out the liar or discover something more?
First of all let me just say this —this book may be deemed a mystery/thriller but it’s not. The plot is quite obvious, but that is not the reason why this book was enticing for me. McManus touched on issues that every high school (even younger) kid has to deal with year after year; taking the risk of being yourself and possibly standing out from your clique, daring to be different, and bullying and how its turned to social media making teens feed off gossip and putting down their class mates.
One of Us is Lying has been compared to the movie, The Breakfast Club, and the TV series, Pretty Little Liars. I haven’t watched the TV series, but I have watched the movie and McManus’ mirrors the way that through time we get to see what depth each character, and who they really are instead of just some label.
By writing her novel in the four different points of view, readers get to see what went through the main character’s minds when these deep secrets came to be and what/why their eventual decisions lead to. I do believe that there will be split opinions on McManus’ novel due some of the content that she brings up though.
Kirsten Lowe studies at Athabasca College.