Book: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M McManus
Published By: Penguin Random House
Expected Publication: 1st June
I received this book for free via Netgalley, this in no way impacted my opinion of the book.
As always, thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for allowing me to read this book.
I was so excited when I read the description for this book, because it was pitched as The Breakfast Club meets PLL and I figured well how could that not be awesome? So I requested it from Netgalley and was very excited when I got approved. However, I think in hindsight, my expectations may have been a little too high? Don’t get me wrong, this was a decent mystery, with some good twists along the way, but it wasn’t anything mind blowing, at least not for me. I was dissatisfied with how the mystery turned out and I thought the climax was incredibly rushed. I also feel like the title is kind of a misnomer but saying why would probably constitute a really big spoiler! Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.
He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.
One of my biggest bug bears with this was actually the multiple POV, which is strange for me because I usually love multiple POVs and I get why the author did a multiple POV for this book, but I didn’t feel like the voices felt distinct enough? I suppose it’s hard when you’re reading as opposed to listening to the audiobook to have distinct voices, but if an author is going to do multiple POVs then the voices should feel distinct. You should know without having to look at the chapter headings which character is speaking and I just didn’t.
The characters were decent, but they felt mostly flat to me. Nate, Bronwyn and Cooper all just felt like stereotypes and I didn’t really see all that much development from any of them. As far as the characters go Addy is the real superstar here. She develops from this kind of ditzy girl whose life is controlled by her peers, to this amazing young woman who takes charge and without whom solving the mystery would have been impossible, I really found myself rooting for Addy in a way I didn’t with the other characters. She actually grew and changed through the book in a way that the other three didn’t really seem to. The writing was fine but nothing memorable.
The romance was just so/so. Sure Bronwyn and Nate were kind of cute, but the smart girl and the jock? Hasn’t that romance been done to death already? And they both just felt so flat to me that I couldn’t really root for them together. It also felt like it took up way too much page time! Like we get it, you’re going out, can we get back to the mystery now please?
It might have been quite nice to actually get to know Simon a bit more before he died? I mean most of what we hear about him is through other people, so we never really know this character enough to care that he’s dead. I don’t know, perhaps flashbacks of him interacting with the other characters or something? It just felt like something was missing there. I got kind of a Gossip Girl vibe from this book a little because of the whole Simon running a Gossip blog thing, but unfortunately, this book had nowhere near the drama of that show!
The mystery was decent and I was kept on my toes trying to guess who the killer was (I did, only a few pages before the characters did) but I feel like it could have been better? I felt like the characters didn’t really get active fast enough, for the most part, up until the last third of the book, they seem to be pretty passive, yeah okay, Bronwyn does a bit but I felt like they could have done a lot more.
There were some decent twists throughout but nothing that was completely mind-blowing. I think my Dangerous Girls complex may have slightly come into play here because that’s what I’m expecting now. I want to be that level shocked every time I read a murder mystery and I just wasn’t. I think the killer reveal could have been so much more than it was. Personally I would have gone for someone different, I didn’t really feel the shock with the person that it was? I don’t know, I was just a little disappointed.
I also think some of the plot twists were problematic. Sorry for any spoilers here, but I don’t want anyone to be hurt by this, I won’t go into too many details, but basically sexuality and mental illness are used as plot twists and I don’t think that’s right. Mental illness and people’s sexualities are not plot twists people! It’s not okay to use them as such.
I liked that for the most part, the characters all had present families, the only real exception being Nate. The sisterly relationships between Addy and Ashton and Bronwyn and Maeve were honestly amongst my favourite parts of this book, I love seeing sisters supporting each other. Also whilst we’re on the topic of women supporting each other, yay for female friendship in this book! Instead of being made to be enemies Bronwyn and Addy work together and I just loved seeing that. There are far too many YA books that set girls against each other and whilst there was some of that in this book, the female friendships are overwhelmingly positive.
The whole climax was just rushed and unbelievable. I was waiting the entire book to find out exactly who was behind the murder and when we finally got to it, it was just disappointing. Plus it all went so fast, you barely had time to take anything in before you had moved on. The character motivations for what they did just didn’t feel serious enough to me? I don’t know, I can’t really say more without spoilers, so you’ll have to decide for yourself on that one!
I did like seeing all these different personalities come together as a group and by the end, they did make for a realistic and believable group of friends. I particularly loved Cooper and Addy’s friendship, it was lovely how protective he was of her (but not in a violent way, which was good).
It was also a very anticlimactic end. Like boom, the killer is revealed and everything just sort of fizzles out? I mean the case is concluded and the murder is solved, but then it continues onto the aftermath and ends at a point that doesn’t really make sense to me? I don’t know, I just didn’t find it satisfying.
Overall it was a decent mystery thriller, but the ending was rushed, the character voices weren’t distinctive enough and the characters themselves could have used a lot more fleshing out. It did keep me on my toes till the end, but I didn’t end it feeling thrilled? And is that not the point of a book like this? It was a great premise, but overall I ended up feeling a little lukewarm about it.
My rating: 3/5
My next review will be of Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season, which I’m hoping I’ll finish next week.