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

Hiya guys! It's that time again to talk about another book I have managed to finish up. I have to say I'm pretty damn proud of myself too! Okay, maybe not like too proud because this is only the second book I'm reading this year haha. I'm a little behind, but progress is progress nonetheless. So yeah today I'll be having a book talk on One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus. I think I might have mentioned it before, but basically I went ahead and ordered the sequel about three chapters away from ending the first book. Yup, I was that excited about this series haha. It was the best decision I ever made because I was able to pick up the second book without missing a beat. And because I was still so pumped up about the first, I ended up reading this book in about two and a half weeks. This is definitely going to be my go-to approach when reading more books in a series from now on.

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

As with my last book talk this post will basically be a breakdown of the book in a review style format. That means there will be spoilers from this point forward with no further warnings. And please keep in mind that this is a direct continuation of the first book One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, which means that you would have needed to read the first one as well. This is a fantastic book with a great and surprising twist so I definitely recommend not spoiling it for yourself. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Book Title: One of Us is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Rating: 8/10

Goodreads Synopsis:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller everyone is talking about, One of Us Is Lying! There's a new mystery to solve at Bayview High, and there's a whole new set of rules.

Come on, Bayview, you know you've missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one's been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it's not an app, though—it's a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe's the first target. If you choose not to play, it's a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it's that they can't count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon's gone, but someone's determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there's a whole new set of rules.

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

Let's talk about it!

Right off this book picks up about 18 months from the ending of the first book. This time the game is different as are our main characters - unfortunately? The main characters sometimes fall a bit of the Bayview 4 - Phoebe and Knox especially. Yes, the new set of characters ended up growing on me. But they lacked in the same way the original four did and didn't show too much character depth or growth as the story progressed. Reading through the difference perspectives Knox felt a little dull to read most of the time. Out of all the characters I only really felt invested in Maeve and her POV chapters were the best to read. Even when the chapters added nothing more than filler.

My only real complaint (if you can even call it that) is that I would have liked to see more of the D'Agostino case. Perhaps have more details into those characters that were involved or connected to what happened. The case as a whole was mentioned in passing here and there it never felt like enough information. Most of the time it felt like a filler piece more than something I was supposed to be curious on. When the big revelation happened at the end I felt sort of confused. There was a big 'uhh whose that' moment and I had to go back to understand how it tied to the case and what the case was even about. Admittedly it could have been an oversight on my part, but I just didn't see the connection or the mention of the second cop until my second read thru.

That being said, the pace of the book is perfect in my opinion. The pacing is much faster with enough details and action packed in each sequence. The entire plot felt very strong - although not as much as the first book - but the lies and the webs were definitely intriguing.

In no specific order here are some key moments in the book that surprised me in one way or another. Some good, some bad.
  • Knox and Phoebe ending up together as a couple in the end.
    • It was kind of predictable in retrospect, but at the moment of seeing it unfold I felt pleasantly surprised. Mostly because it just seemed to work so seamlessly.
  • The Knox and Maeve secret that was exposed seemed underwhelming - to an extent.
    • The thing that got me most about this secret is the way Maeve ended up telling her sister in public. Like why? Especially for two girls who had been through the gossip mill once already. It didn't fit their characters, in my opinion. 
  • Luis being a focal point character whilst at the same time not being used nearly enough. I would have loved to not only see him more, but for him to have more of a role.
  • Emma's involvement in the game was really clear once she started to fall apart.
  • There not being a 'real' connection linking back to Simon.
    • Yes, there was the Reddit forum once again. But that seemed lackluster due to the lack of focus on the postings.
  • Derek saying Emma knew about the hookup the entire time.
    • Genuinely gasped at this reveal, I did not see it coming. At least not in the way it was presented. 
  • Maeve getting the cancer scare and it turning out not to be a relapse.
    • It felt a little predictable when she started getting the nose bleeds that it was going in this direction. And the whole hiding it from everyone as well. I was surprised that it was Nate of all people to snap her out of it, it was a nice touch. The arch as a whole was a little too close to home for me and I did find myself a little teary eyed when she was told she hadn't relapsed. 
  • An actual character death!
    • Sure, it wasn't a main character. But it was still a person we had interactions with and knew to some extent. Probably would have been impactful had he more scenes? Sure, but it was still a surprise death nonetheless.
  • Owen truly being behind it all.
    • Again an actual gasp left my mouth at this reveal. Especially at the fact that both Emma and Phoebe decide to keep it quiet. 

With the ending what I loved most of all was how everything fell into place for both Emma and Phoebe. One by one every moment seemed to click in their heads and suddenly they were faced with the reality. Their little brother was behind it all. Well maybe not all of it, but you know what I mean. As the reader it's equally as surprising because it's not something we see coming as Owen is always presented as just a little kid. An annoying little brother who is innocent to his sisters lies and webs or so we think obviously. Tied with the fact that this is the end - we are told the truth and then the book ends. Just like that. But you know what? I loved it! The whole thing was written beautifully and left me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next. If anything even happens next. I don't know what kind of direction something like this could go in to be honest. It ends well enough where it doesn't need to be continued to feel like a satisfying ending to me.

Of course I'd be lying if I said I didn't want another book in the series, haha. But at the same time like I mentioned I don't know in what direction this could go in. There isn't much left to explore in terms of the current characters and story lines with the exception of everyone finding out about Owen. But even if they do, then what? No one really would want to see Owen getting into legal trouble and at the end of the day it really wouldn't solve anything since Emma was involved as well. Covering for their little brother, although a little messed up, somehow brings the family together again. Which after everything they have gone through is really needed. So yeah as much as I would like to see another book furthering the story, I don't think it would be ideal overall.

And that ends this session of the book talk. What did you think about One of Us is Next? Did you like it better than the original? I'm personally a big fan of the author herself after reading these two books and plan on picking up her other two novels (stand-alones) in the near future. Actually I would be picking them up right now if I didn't have two other books in my queue from a few months ago (The Secret and You) to finish up. Not to mention I do want to shift my focus on reading and learning more about the BLM movement. In fact my next book of the month will be focusing on that and I will be reading a book that was actually turned into a movie in 2018. But until next time stay safe and well xoxo Moonbaes.

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