Book Review: “One of Us Is Lying” & “One of Us Is Next”

One of Us Is Lying was a recommendation from a friend who described it as similar (but better) than Pretty Little Liars. It didn’t take me long to add it to my To Be Read list and shortly after I borrowed it from the library to read. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The book follows five high school students who spend an afternoon in detention that ends with a murder. When one of the students falls dead from anaphylactic shock, the other four become suspects. The book bounces between the four students: Bronwyn, the straight-A student; Addy, the popular pretty girl; Cooper, the baseball star; and Nate, the teen drug dealer. Though they are from separate worlds, the four must come together to prove their innocence. Of course, nothing is that simple and every one of them has their own secrets that manage to come out throughout the course of the investigation.

The whole time I was reading the novel, I was engaged. It was a page-turner that I had a hard time putting down. I really liked the change between the characters and reading the different perspectives throughout the book. Because all the characters are unique and different in their own way, it was nice to experience how all of them were feeling about the events they were living through. I also felt that author Karen McManus really understood the high school dynamics that drove a lot of the plot. A lot of times when I read novels set in high schools the author relies on basic stereotypes to emphasize that it’s set in high school with a bunch of teenagers. McManus didn’t fall into those which was refreshing. Each character was believable and the scenes in school were well written. As someone who went to a small high school in a small town where it was only on special occasions that girls wore high heels and the cheerleaders definitely did not rule the school, I related more with the depiction of Bayview High. Even more so I related with the social dynamics between different groups of students. Almost every public school has the typical groupings of students but oftentimes they intertwine and overlap which showed through in One of Us Is Lying.

Aside from the accurate representation, I thought the writing overall was great. It was suspenseful where it needed to be and the level of detail was perfectly balanced. I sometimes judge a book by if I stay up far too late to read it because after every chapter I have to know what happens next and this one did just that. I strongly believe that if someone finishes a book quickly because they simply can’t put it down, then it’s a good read. I also thoroughly enjoyed the balance between character and plot buildup. Some novels are purely driven by the characters, others by the plot and One of Us Is Lying was driven by both collectively which helped with engagement.

I don’t want to give too much away so if this sounds like your type of book please go read it!

And if you read it and enjoy it immensely, read the sequel One of Us Is Next.

One of Us Is Next is still set at Bayview High but follows a new set of students, one of which is Bronwyn’s younger sister Maive who had her own part in the first mystery. Instead of a murder, a new game, Truth or Dare, sets the plot in motion. If you don’t choose dare, a secret is revealed and when the dares start to escalate and become dangerous, the group of teens set out to discover who’s behind the scary game.

I didn’t physically read One of Us Is Next. I chose to listen to it on audiobook while I was traveling for work last June and even though I enjoyed the story just like the first novel, it was different listening to it. I really enjoy listening to audiobooks and in the last year have listened to several, but most were books I’ve already read so I don’t have to pay attention to every single detail. I think because of my past experience with audiobooks, I didn’t quite get the whole experience with this one. Still a great story and great writing, I think circumstantially, I just missed out on this one.

I hope one day in the future to actually pick up the book and read it properly. I also might just wait for the second season of the TV series from Peacock that I hope would follow the second book. I’m not through the first season yet, but I’m enjoying it a lot. If you’re interested in the show, please read first. So far it’s been a great adaptation and I’m happy that I’ve read the book and now can enjoy the show.

If you’re interested in mystery, multi-character development, and can tolerate a high school setting you should definitely check out One of Us Is Lying.

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