In One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, Nate, and Simon are assigned to detention under suspicious circumstances. When one of them is dead by the end of the detention period, the remaining four become suspects. All of them have motive. Did one of them commit the crime? This is the question that is explored over the course of the novel.
Wow! I really enjoyed this novel this multi-perspective novel. This book has been described as The Breakfast Club, the John Hughes film from the 80s meets Pretty Little Liars, a popular book series by Sara Shephard. I see the parallels with The Breakfast Club, but I would argue that this book gives the reader way more than the Pretty Little Liars series. The novel is a suspenseful teen whodunit, but at the heart of the story are these five high school kids with issues that any kid can relate to. McManus develops each of these characters and their backstories so well, that reader is just as interested in the characters and the resolution of their personal struggles as the mystery of what happened in detention. McManus also tackles a variety of teen issues in a subtle yet affecting way. Bravo to her for her careful crafting of these stories!
As an adult reading a young adult suspense novel, I was totally engaged in the story and really loved the characters and the dimensions of each. There is also a strong cast of secondary characters, which I find is usually lacking in this genre.
One of Us Is Lying was the October pick for my work book club– a group of ladies, who happen to all be teachers, who range in age from late twenties to late fifties. Everyone really liked this book, and we are not an easy audience to please. I found that the more I discussed the book with “book people,” the more I realized just how good this young adult mystery is. McManus does a masterful job developing the voice of each of the characters. So good! AND this is Karen McManus’s debut novel.
I don’t want to discuss too much of the plot, since this is a mystery and I would never want to spoil it. What I will say is that I think a broad range of readers will enjoy One of Us Is Lying. In the classroom, I would say this book is a must. It will appeal to both genders, as the protagonists are of both genders. In addition it is plot-driven (which is great for students and reluctant readers), but also has really well developed characters.
Bottom Line: This is a keeper! 5/5