Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin Random House
One Of Us Is Lying is a book which hit all my expectations and then surpassed them. It completely took me by surprise from the off and I was hooked throughout the book. It’s a contemporary YA crime fiction novel set in a high school. The premise is simple – five students, each epitomising a stereotype, enter detention one day. Only four, however, leave alive.
Everything about this book worked for me. While simple in concept, everything that was built upon that was mixed up in twists and turns, with characters that I could almost reach out and touch and a mystery that got my thinking hat on.
There will be mild spoilers in this review – I enjoyed this book too much for there not to be, but there will be nothing that will interfere with enjoyment of the novel itself, just hints at what’s to come.
McManus took a risk with this book and wrote it from the perspectives of the four accused students, the ones who emerged from detention alive but with their lives ruined. Each one had a motive and anyone could have done the deed. It would have been very easy for it all to slip out in the PoVs, but McManus did an incredible job of propelling the story through the characters and still convincing the reader that the characters could be innocent, but they could also be very guilty, at the same time.
I particularly enjoyed how, while there was the over-arching storyline of who the murderer was, there were also a number of other sub-plots to sink your teeth into. Each of the characters’ lives started intertwining, and each one had a reason to be there, be it aiding in the characters’ development or shining more light on the mystery. The whole book felt incredibly well put together, with sublime pacing and a plot filled with so many twists and turns that I could not guess for certain who the culprit was until the ending of the book.
McManus does not scrimp on anything in this novel, and nowhere does she put more heart than in the characters who really make the book alive. When I first started, I was worried that each character would be little more than the stereotype assigned to them at the beginning of the novel, but as One Of Us Is Lying progresses, those stereotypes are peeled away and real, fully-fledged people step off the page. This was so well done you didn’t even notice it happening until it already had.
I ended up loving all of the main four characters, which is a rarity for me. None of them felt overlooked and each contributed to the overall plot. This is so much the case that I am really struggling to decide on which is my favourite. As well as the rarity of having no main characters that I dislike, McManus does the incredible job of having me support the central romance of the novel, which was built up and described in a realistic and fun manner. The two characters involved felt like they had chemistry and would have ended up together even if McManus never intended it. I also really liked that there was an LGBT relationship in this novel and that everything about it felt natural. While, sadly, not the main focus of the book, I found that it taking on a slightly smaller role in the book really worked within the overall make-up of the story and in the involved characters’ personal development.
As you may have guessed from the words above, I adored One Of Us Is Lying. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this novel, but it was a novel I was fully invested in, that made me want to go back and reread the minute I came to the end. It made me smile, it made me groan in frustration, it made me cry out loud with both annoyance and excitement. It was definitely one of the best books I have read so far this year.
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus will be released in the UK on the 1st June 2017.
Pre-Order on The Book Depository (I get a small commission if you use this link): https://www.bookdepository.com/One-of-Us-is-Lying-Karen-McManus/9780141375632/?a_aid=rosienreads