Book Talk: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Hiya guys! It's the start of a brand new month and I can hardly believe we are nearly at the half year point. The last few months have been an absolute blur for me (and I'm sure many of you as well) since the quarantine started. At the end of last month NJ began opening beaches at least, so hopefully it's a step to getting us back to normal. In the meantime I have been using a lot of this time to finally read a lot of the books on my shelf. It's been such a long time since I have done a Book of the Month post that I have dust to wipe away. Honestly I stopped doing them because I myself was having a hard time reading the books I was selecting. Not because of the books themselves necessarily. It was a matter of never finding 'the right time' in the day to sit down and read a few chapters. Heck even one chapter. The day would pass and I'd tell myself 'Oh I'll read right before bed' and instead I would open up a YouTube video to watch. So even the previous books I mentioned on the blog I never actually got around to reading them fully. It sucks, I suck. Sometime last month though things just seemed to 'click' and I found myself developing a routine of eating breakfast whilst reading a book. And the first book on my list? That would be One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus!

Book Talk: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Fair warning: this book talk assumes you have read the book and are okay with spoilers. From this moment on this post is essentially a review that will talk in-depth about key points and the ending of the book. Please stop reading if you don't want the ending spoiled!

Book Title: One of Us is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Rating: 7/10

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

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.

Book Talk: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Let's talk about!

So I initially began trying to read this book back in October of 2019 and then again in February 2020. Both times I managed to get a handful of chapters in and then I couldn't get myself to pick up the book again. The opening first chapter is very lively as it should be and managed to completely capture me. The entire premise of the book - Simon being murdered in detention - is what this chapter is. After this event though, the first few chapters that follow it seem to drag on and not in a good way. Hence why it took me a few times to get pasted them.

The book shifts POVs for every chapter for the 4 remaining students that were in detention: Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper. And each one of their dedicated chapters feels... cliche to the characters they are described as. Right from the bat the characters are stereotypical (even mentioned by Simon himself) so my assumption is that it was intended. Modeled after the Breakfast Club to an extent. But my gripe isn't that they are cliche on the outside, but rather their actual personalities are exactly on line with the cliches as well. I mean... the bad boy falling in love with the nerd. Check. The golden boy having a dark secret. Check. And the seemingly perfect girl having a not so perfect life. Double check. All very predictable and that's what makes the first few chapters hard to read through. Even though we are seeing the events unfold through each one of their POVs the characters themselves come off as one dimensional.

The novel is divided into three parts and most of the slow character and plot development happens in part one. Part two really picks up the pace whilst throwing the reader a lot of curve balls. The Tumblr posts were a great way to spice things up and throw more confusion into the mix.Though admittedly I wish it was an element more touched upon, some more entries would have been nice. By the third part of the book I was completely engulfed by that feeling of 'I can't put it down'. And I pretty much didn't finishing the whole thing in about a weeks time.

There were quite a few moments in the book that genuinely surprised me. Not literally gasps, but definitely audible 'damnnnn's were heard in my home. Some for good reasons, a few for odd character directions. I thought I would break them down by bullet points to make it less confusing. These are in no particular order.

  • Addy having actual character growth and doing a complete change in personality and style. Definitely not something I expected to read. Especially not to the extent she took it in with cutting her hair.
  • Cooper being gay was nothing something I saw coming. Even with the brief mentions of him texting someone named 'Kris'. Could it still be seen as predictable to some extent? Maybe. But it was still something I didn't see coming and the reveal bought out the biggest 'damn' from my mouth.
  • The progression of Nate and Bronwyn's relationship. Yes, it's definitely a cliche pairing. But the progression thru their late night phone calls watching movies was so endearing. I don't know if I'm just a sucker for that sort of thing, but I was here for it and squealing at all the cute interactions.
  • No one mentioning the car wreck outside of detention. It was an important moment during that detention where everyone was distracted and things could have gone unnoticed that resulted in Simon's death. But yet only brief mentions of this were done to the adults and the police.
  • Maeve is an odd character. I don't know how to read her, mostly because her POV isn't included and we only really see her through the biased eyes of her sister Bronwyn. I feel like there is more to her that will likely be explored in the sequel. 
  • Addy realizing that the one Tumblr post was no based on something that happened, but rather on a lie she had only told Jake. Like this had me completely shocked, to the point I had to dig back into the other chapters to reread the moment.
  • And of course Simon's death plan. Moreso the inclusion of Jake in his plans and him turning out to be even more insane than Simon himself. 

I will say though that the ending got a little muddled for me with the direction of Bronwyn and Nate's relationship debacle. Don't get me wrong, the conflict between them made sense if not a bit obvious. However it would have been better executed if it developed for a while in the chapters leading up to him being thrown in jail and then released. Instead it feels like very left-field and rushed just to achieve some extra angst at the end. I would have liked the ending of the book to be more centered as the Bayview 4 moving forward passed this mess. Something where the four of them were together would have felt like a neater way to wrap things up. After all it was their unlikely friendship and their non-stereotype ties with each other that really ended up saving them in the end. And we never really get that moment between them.

That said though, it didn't ruin the books ending or reveal for me. The ending was a completely surprising twist that I didn't see coming at all personally. Like during the first part, I maybe had a passing thought of it being Simon the whole time. But it seemed so insane and far-fetched that I brushed the thought away without hesitation and continued reading without thinking twice about it. When you read it all out in the open and unfolded you realize how not so much of a stretch it actual was. It's still completely insane and yet believable in the world we live in today.

And that's it, that is One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Despite it's very slow start, I do recommend reading this book. There is supposed to be a TV show coming into fruition in 2020, so I'll be curious how that'll turn out. I don't have high hopes, but who knows maybe it'll end up being the next Pretty Little Liars. Let me know what you guys think of this book if you've read it or are interested in picking it up. And also tell me what books you're reading right now, I'm always adding more books to my shelves. Please continue to stay safe and well and I will catch you next time xoxo Moonbaes.

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