Book Reviews

One of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus (Book Review)


Title : One of Us Is Lying

Author : Karen M. McManus

Genre : YA Thriller



Goodreads summary :

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. 

Non-Spoilery Thoughts

One of Us Is Lying isn’t just a thriller. It’s part-high-school drama, part-romance, part-plottwists and part-mystery. It’s a mashup of a lot of things, and you’ll enjoy this book only if you enjoy each aspect together; otherwise it’s pretty much a disappointment.

The premise follows five students who enter detention, and one of them dies inside. Each remaining student is lying and hiding things, and it is necessary to find out who did the murder. That, basically is the story and to be completely honest, it’s a very interesting premise. I got so excited when I read the summary on Goodreads because I was really expecting something interesting and shocking.

However, that’s not the case. I’m going to get the positives over first. The whole mystery element, and the big reveal in the end was pretty good. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and I felt satisfied reading the ending, when things came together and everything was solved. I felt that the whole question of who committed the murder, the connecting threads and the little bits and parts which are revealed throughout the book as plot twists were really good.

The writing was addictive, and you’ll find yourself finishing this book in no time. I think with books like this (which don’t have too much going for them – I’ll get to the cons of the book in a minute) – the writing matters a lot. The writing had a huge part in me not giving up on the book, and because I could fly through this in such a short time, I did not even feel too bad about not liking the book. It is the kind of writing where you have to keep reading to know more and more, even if you don’t care too much. It was very difficult to stop reading even for a while.

And now, the things I didn’t like. The characters, for example. They’re extremely cliché, cardboard, and generic characters which we’ve seen over and over and over again in YA books of all genres. I was so pissed off by the characters because it felt like these characters have been popping up in so many books, and there is  nothing new the author has to present here. Not only are the characters cliché, they’re massively underdeveloped. The author doesn’t provide a wider, emotional insight into any character, they’re basically cardboards, not humans.


The romance was so irritating. Hah. And cliché. Generic bad boy meets generic good girl, and start sharing their woes and ‘deeper’ thoughts and turns out they’ve liked each other since childhood hurrahhhh. I completely skimmed over most of the lovey-dovey conversations they had towards the end of the book, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The high school drama. Yep, there’s lots of it. If you are someone who enjoys reading about bratty teenagers and their gossips and shenanigans, you will love this book. I’m just tired of such stories, and I didn’t think the author wrote anything new or interesting in this book.

Another thing I disliked was how the term ‘depressed’ was used in the book. You can read the book yourself to know exactly what I mean; but all I can say is one of the characters is said to be doing certain things in high school, and all of a sudden the he’s being referred to as ‘depressed’ which I found really odd.

All in all, I would recommend this book if you like YA contemporary, teenage dramas and high school setting. You will love it then. But if you’re looking for a thrilling mystery, definitely don’t pick this one up. It’ll disappoint.

My Rating

2/5 stars


3 thoughts on “One of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus (Book Review)

  1. Lovely review, Anushka, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this. I have been hearing good things about this book and it intrigued me, but I have to admit that I’m re-considering it now, hearing that the characters are so cliché and didn’t really stood out for you. I’m a HUGE character reader, they can make and break a book for me :/
    Thank you for this! :)


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