One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus /★★★★☆
Summary: Five kids go into detention. Four come out alive. The ensuing murder investigation reveals secrets they don’t want anyone to know, never mind the whole world. Because the thing is, they’ve each got something to hide.
I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Mystery
This was an enjoyable mystery, but it was the characters that kept me interested more than the plot itself. The mystery I didn’t find terribly clever, but it did keep me guessing, despite the fact that other reviews have said it was obvious from the start. If you’re a seasoned mystery reader, you may find this easier to puzzle out than I did. That being said, the outcome of this novel did occur to me as I made my way through the book, but it stood out no more to me than any of the other possibilities I came up with. I think it was because of that that I didn’t find the ending of this book to be the shocker – or seem quite as clever – it was supposed to be.
But as I sad, it was the individual plotlines of the characters that kept me going, and I liked getting to know them and the way the plot uncovered their personal secrets as the investigation of the murder gets larger. I loved not just simply trying to solve the mystery, but trying to puzzle the motives and the personal lives of the characters. It really kept me guessing. It did take me a few chapters to become invested in the story and in the characters, and I did find this book a bit slow, but I was never bored. One thing about this book, though: it did NOT make me want to go back to high school. Yikes.
Like I said, this book is very character driven, and I loved the development of these characters. Addy, in particular, really stood out to me, and I loved what she had made of herself by the end of the book. I loved how each of our four murder suspects had either something to gain or to lose, or both, because of the murder. The four had a great mix of personalities and social standings, and I loved how the relationships between them played out.
The romance was cute, too, though it took a while for it to grow on me. It was really only by the end of the book that I was sold on it, but I liked how it played off of a previous history between the characters, otherwise it would have probably felt a bit too manufactured and convenient.
McManus was very good at keeping me guessing, and most of it has to do with her mastery at writing the story through four very different point of views. This book was told through the eyes of each of the suspects, and the balance of knowledge she allotted the reader was great at keeping up the tension of the mysteries of the murder and of the characters themselves. The writing style itself I wouldn’t call beautiful or amazing, but it had a certain tone and mood that set the story well. I can understand the Breakfast Club comparisons.
Was I satisfied?
I wasn’t blown away by this book, I didn’t find it astoundingly clever or anything, but I enjoyed it and I liked the characters and the way the narrative played out, so for the most part, yes, I was satisfied.