Inspired by the 1985 teen drama ‘The Breakfast Club’, Karen M. McManus’ debut novel revolves around four common high school tropes—Bronwyn (the brain), Cooper (the jock), Addy (the princess) and Nate (the criminal). These stereotypes, who would never normally intermesh, have to spend detention with each other along with the outcast, Simon. When Simon, who also runs a popular gossip blog in their school, dies suddenly during detention, all four students are made suspects in a confusing and turbulent murder case.
The main characters in this story each manage to generate empathy from the reader as their lives are thoroughly judged and picked apart. Rather than solely focusing on the murder case, McManus explores the backgrounds of her characters. Readers are invited to learn about their troubles as well as their triumphs. This development of character means that they go further than the traditional stereotypes—they become multidimensional—and make readers become more attached to them as the story goes on.
In a similar fashion to the likes of ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars’, the gradual reveal of secrets throughout the book only elevate the characters’ suspicions, widening the possibilities of who the true mastermind behind Simon’s death really is. Karen M. McManus allows readers to speculate over one character before exposing the hidden secrets of another, bringing the book to a point where each character has a particular motive. From my personal reading, I correctly predicted the true killer about three quarters of my way into the story. However, McManus’s storytelling managed to leave enough extra clues for me to doubt my own thought process. This exposé throughout the novel will keep you turning the pages towards the intense climax.
McManus writing style is an in-depth exploration of her character’s minds whilst being true to how the general teen would think. We are able to relate to these characters in some way even if it isn’t completely, which only makes the suspicions harder for readers. Intense, mysterious but also with moments of pure romantic chemistry and friendship, ‘One of Us Is Lying’ is a YA thriller which will make you anticipate the next book from Karen M. McManus, ‘Two Can Keep a Secret’.