Thoughts on : One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Posted by on July 21, 2017 4:44 am in 3 stars reads | 4 comments

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Audio narration : Kim Mai Guest , MacLeod Andrews , Shannon McManus , Robbie Daymond
Genre : Mystery, YA
Stand alone

About the Book  :

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?

My Thoughts :

One of Us is Lying was, mostly, exactly what I wanted : it had an intriguing premise, secrets, a carefully built mystery. It had a lot of twists and surprises, and while the ending didn’t surprise me, I was mostly pleased with it. I also really enjoyed how the media played a part in the story. I’m fascinated by the media and the public’s reaction (including my own) in this type of stories, and I felt this one was realistically done.

On top of that, the narration for the audiobook was really well done. Each of the four characters had their own narrator, and while I sometimes confused the two girls, they overall did a great job of giving these four people distinct personalities.

And yet, I couldn’t give this one my full recommendation, because an aspect of it really disappointed/annoyed me. I need to say : it’s a small spoiler, I guess, but nothing that will spoil the most important parts of the story.

So, each of the four main characters has a secret they want to hide. They are revealed as the story advances, building up the mystery. It’s mostly about lies, cheating, that sort of thing, except one, for whom the secret is their sexual orientation. In other words, we are “led to believe” the character is straight until, SURPRISE! They are not! How shocking, right?

Not being straight, or keeping it for yourself, is obviously not the problem here. But the approach in this story is completely wrong. I found it to be lacking in taste and sensibility. Especially nowadays, when sexuality, gender and identity are such important topics. And nothing about the story required this character’s sexual life to be presented as a “shocking surprise”. In fact, it would have made this character much easier to relate too if their sexual orientation hadn’t been used for shock value.

I also wasn’t please with how mental health was presented in the book, but not as bothered by it.

All in all, One of Us is Lying isn’t a bad book. It’s a good mystery, but its lack of delicacy regarding certain topics makes it disappointing at best, and insulting at worst. If this doesn’t bother you though, you might enjoy the story which was otherwise well written, suspenseful and a real page-turner!


  1. I would hope no one would be shocked by someone’s sexual orientation these days. I like the premise of the book but will have to think about whether I want to read it or not.

    • The book is overall a lot of fun, though nothing extremely new I would say. Maybe give a sample a try to see if you enjoy the writing? Most readers seem to have enjoyed it more than I did!

  2. I assume this is a rather new book? By some of the things you said, it sounds like it could be from the 80s, except obviously there are smartphones. Weird to take a cultural outlook so outdated and use it in a modern setting. I don’t think this one would work for me either.

    • Indeed, it is quite recent. I had the same thought though, I was talking with a friend about it and I mentioned how this “plot twist” felt as though it had been written ten years ago. It really affected my appreciation of the book sadly 🙁

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