One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, was a recent pick for Phoebe’s teen book club. I initially confused it with We Were Liars, which has a similar title. The latter is an upcoming book club pick, so we will see if it is similar in other ways!
The story is a murder mystery set at a high school. The main characters, Addy, Bronwyn, Cooper, and Nate, are all in detention together when another student, Simon, who is also in detention, is poisoned. Simon is also the writer of a blog that specializes on revealing the secrets of his fellow students, and he has hinted at big news regarding the four of them, and, as a result, they all end up suspects in his murder. When the police don’t seem terribly invested in finding the real killer, Addy, Bronwyn, Cooper, and Nate take it upon themselves to do so.
As the title suggests, there are secrets being kept, and not everyone is truthful–at least not at first. Simon did indeed have major dirt on his detention-mates, and it does all come out. And the reveals do have consequences for each of them. The bigger question, however, is if keeping their secrets were worth killing for, and that is at the center of the mystery–who they can trust, and who killed Simon.
Interestingly, Simon ends up being more than just “the victim.” He truly was a horrible person when he was alive, so it is a challenge to feel badly for him, but as the others dig deeper into the mystery of Simon’s death, they learn more about him, and his reasons for spreading gossip, as well. As a reader, you do feel a little sympathy for him as his character is explored.
The point of view alternates between each of the four suspects, so you do spend time in each of their heads. Some of the issues they are dealing with are serious, so there are some plot points that might not be appropriate for younger teens. However, nothing was trivialized or made light of. There is some romance, but it is not at the center of the story.
The story moves quickly, and it is difficult to put down once you get started. The mystery did keep me guessing! I enjoyed reading it, and it was fun discussing it together and sharing theories.
And now for Phoebe’s review!
One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, was a really good book. It is a murder mystery that centers on four high school students, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper, as they investigate the death of another student, Simon. One of the really interesting things about this book is that it is an alternating first-person narrative, so every chapter was narrated by each of the characters. So, we are always reading about their opinions, and about who they think the murderer is. The many narrators can make it a little complicated as well, because they also have their individual storylines.
I didn’t really have a favorite character, but if I had to choose one, I would say Bronwyn because she is smart. But there is something to like about all the main characters.
This was one of the first “real” murder mysteries that I have read, and I loved it! Like any good murder mystery, I didn’t know the culprit until it was revealed, and I would have never guessed it was that character. I definitely want to read more of this genre in the future. One of the main themes of the story is people’s secrets being revealed. That really kept the story going and made it interesting.
I would recommend this to anybody really, especially if you haven’t read many murder mysteries; it is a perfect starter book!