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Saturday, January 06, 2018

YA Murder Mystery Tense, Gripping

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On an ordinary Monday at Bayview High School, five teens walk into detention.  There's Brownwyn Rojas, the brilliant Yale-bound senior; Nate Macauley, a 17-year-old drug dealer; Addy Prentiss, a pretty, popular homecoming princess; Cooper Clay, the well-liked basketball star; and Simon Kelleher, creator of a gossip app which Bayview kids view with both fear and fascination.  How Simon gets his surprisingly accurate intel remains a mystery, but everyone knows he's not afraid to use what he knows to stab his classmates right where it hurts most.

Although Simon is hardly Mr. Popularity, it's still shocking when he dies in detention following an allergic reaction to peanut oil.  It soon becomes apparent that his death was no accident.  The only question is: Who murdered Simon Kelleher?  He was just about to publish damaging secrets about Brownwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper, giving all of them motive to kill the app maker.  But which one of them actually did the deed?  All profess to be innocent.  Are they telling the truth?  Is someone on the outside framing the four teens?  If so, who?  Who wanted Simon dead bad enough to take such elaborate measures in order to close his digital mouth forever?  With a whole school full of suspects who know more than they're saying, finding the killer won't be easy ...  

I love me a good murder mystery, so I was excited to give this YA version a go.  One of Us Is Lying, a debut novel by Karen M. McManus, definitely opens with an intriguing premise.  It's essentially a locked-room mystery with a cast of unlikely suspects.  Tense and twisty, the story reveals secrets about all of the characters, adding to their realistically complex lives while upping the tale's intensity.  While I guessed whodunit without too much trouble, I appreciated the plot's build-up and the surprises it did offer.  Overall, this is a suspenseful novel with important messages about acceptance, honesty, and true friendship.  It's also a depressing little drama starring some seriously disaffected teens.  All in all, then, I didn't love One of Us Is Lying like I wanted to.  I enjoyed it enough, though, to keep reading and to keep an eye out for more from McManus.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, sexual content, and depiction of underage drinking and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This one sounds interesting. I think I'd like the suspense. But, I'm not sure I'm in the mood for a disaffected teen story. But that doesn't mean I won't be in the mood to read it another time. Maybe later.

    1. Yeah, I have a hard time with novels that depict teenagers as bitter, disaffected, and way more mature than real teens. I have three of them and, while they can definitely be moody, they're nothing like teens in popular fiction -- thank goodness!

  2. I listened to this one last year on audio and I liked that way of getting the story. There were multiple narrators, which was good since the point of view changed. I think I liked it better than you, but it's been a long time since I had a teenager. I'll definitely be watching for this author's next book.

    1. Ha ha. Well, I know fictional teens can't be TOO realistic—otherwise their lives would be too boring to read about, but still ...

  3. What a shame that you didn't love this. I've heard it's like a Breakfast Club mystery.

    1. Yes, I've seen it compared to Breakfast Club multiple times. I've never actually seen the movie, so I wouldn't know ;)

  4. I have this one and glad to see you enjoyed it even if you did love it. I love the premise. Great review!

    1. The premise is pretty great. The execution just wasn't up to snuff, IMHO.

  5. You’re not the only one I’ve seen who found this one ho-hum. I think I’ll probably skip it.

    1. I don't blame you. It's not a bad book, but you're not missing much if you skip it.

  6. This one is on deck for me.... excited to read it. I like the way you do reviews with the ratings.

    1. Thanks! It helps people see right away what I thought of the book and if the book has content they might find objectionable.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Locked-room mysteries are always fun to try and solve, although it sounds like this one was kind of easy. Maybe because we're no longer teens. ;D

    1. Yeah, this one felt a little obvious and I'm pretty gullible. Or maybe I'm just getting better at figuring out whodunit??


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