Mini Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

2/2.5 Stars

Goodreads 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? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

CW/TW (may contain spoilers): Murder/allergic reaction/anaphylactic shock/forcibly outed/homophobia/drug use/alcoholism/controlling relationships/suicide/mentions of suicide/depression/mental health/neglect/chronic illness/cheating/ideation of violence/mentions of school violence/others may be present.

So I listened to the audiobook of One Of Us Is Lying since it was available at the library and had great reputation among a lot of book bloggers. However, I did not love this which was unexpected and I’m flitting between 2/2.5 stars for it’s rating.

Firstly, credit where credit is due – the book is well written, it was incredibly easy to listen to and the multiple narrative structure had a lot of promise with each voice coming across as very distinct and individual. Secondly, the actual mystery was pretty decent with a lot of twists and turns that kept you guessing – while I did figure out the “who done it” element pretty early on there was enough suspicion cast on the rest of the characters that meant there was still a sense of mytery and intrigue. Thirdly, the narrators did an excellent job (Kim Mai Guest, Macleod Andrews, Shannon McManus, and Robbie Daymond) and gave a lot of life to the characters which was partly why I kept going to the end of the book.

However, while there were plenty of twists that kept you interested, some of them were incredibly easy to guess and relied on a lot of tropey elements. This wasn’t too big of a deal as it was interesting to watch how these secrets played out and the effects that they had on the characters over the course of the story.

Spoilers in paragraph below

However, I really disliked ** Spoiler ** Cooper’s “shocking twist” – I’m pretty tired of revealing a character as gay as a shock element. While the elements of how hard it can be to come out were sort of explored, Connor was forcibly outed by the police (another trope which I don’t love) and it wasn’t explored or discussed enough – especially since it was written as being a problem with the police. ** Spoiler ended **. Secondly, I also really disliked how cheating was dealt with. **Spoiler ** Two characters cheat but the female character is heavily heavily vindicated for it. Now I hate cheating, but the slut-shaming was never addressed and neither was the fact that said character was in a mentally abusive relationship with an overly controlling boyfriend – this was brushd over which was uncomfortable considering the amount of hate thrown at the character who did cheat.**Spoiler ended** Generally, it felt like a lot of the problematic elements were brushed over, despite characters even pointing out the problem.

I also didn’t love how mental health was covered either. It was pretty much demonised throughout the book, and never fully corrected or addressed. It felt like a lot of important issues were raised over the course of the book, which was great, but then brushed over and never fully explored, handled or corrected – it felt like a waste. The police’s incompetence was mentioned a lot, the scapegoating and targeting, which I did like – but by the end of the book this was semi-forgotten once the truth was out.

The characters themselves were their tropes through and through. Now, this wasn’t too bad since it was part of the point, the characters were meant to be their tropes so their secrets had more impact. Not only that, they did all develop over the course of the book and slightly branched out from them which was nice to watch. However, the author made an odd decision with Nate close to the end of the book which felt unecessary (though it did rely on a hated trope of mine so perhaps that is why), which ended up being hastily rectified right at the end of the story. Overall though, I did actualy like the main four characters – I liked that they were flawed, that they grew, and their own personalities, especially by the end of the book. While their tropey personalities did irritate a little at times, they were overall interesting characters.

Overall, the mystery had enough intrigue to keep me reading and the character, albeit tropey, at least developed over the course of the book. However, too many problematic issues were raised and brushed over, which irritated me since they were used for shock a lot of the time. The book is well written though and easy to breeze through, and the narrators were excellent.


  1. […] Mini Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus – ⭐⭐(2 Stars) – A twist murder mystery with a mismatched crew of students as the suspects. When a death occurs during detention, the other students present become the prime sspects. But the investigation is biased and there are more secrets hidden beneath the surface. […]


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