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Karen M. McManus's ONE OF US IS LYING--A Backlist Twisty YA Romp

by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)

Book Cover of One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Karen M. McManus's One of Us Is Lying ( |

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.

I really enjoyed 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 the reader is just as interested in the characters and the resolution of their personal struggles as in 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.

“Unless one of us is lying. Which is always a possibility.”

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 can be lacking in this genre.

“I guess we're almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you're not one hundred percent sure the other person isn't framing you for murder.”

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 is plot-driven (which is great for students and reluctant readers), but also has really well developed characters.

“That's the kind of person you can get away with killing: someone everybody else wants dead.”

This book should also be on the radar of book lovers, because the Peacock streaming service has a series based on this book that just came out at the end of 2021. I haven't watched the whole series yet, but I did watch the pilot, and I liked it! It seems like it is going to be a great adaptation. So, if you like a book-to-film adaptation, read this YA mystery and then head over to Peacock to watch its adaptation. Happy reading!


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