Young Adult Reviews

Review: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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GUEST PICTURE: Huge thanks to Charlotte from CharlotteSomewhere.

breakbirdExtract:

Kinda pathetic, how Simon was our most trusted news source.

Officer Budapest looks at the rest of us. ‘But not you three?’ We all shake our heads again. ‘Did you ever worry about ending up on Simon’s app? Feel like you had something hanging over your heads, or anything like that?’

‘Not me,’ I say, but my voice isn’t as confident as I would have liked. I glace away from Officer Budapest and catch Addy and Bronwyn looking like polar opposites: Addy’s gone pale as a ghost, and Bronwyn’s flushed brick red. Nate watches them for a few seconds, then tilts his chair and looks at Officer Budapest.

‘Everybody’s got secrets,’ he says. ‘Right?’

(One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. P37.)

breakbirdSynopsis:

Five students walk into detention. Four come out alive. Simon Kelleher, creator of schoolwide gossip app About That, is murdered. His epi-pen is missing, and the school epi-pen supply has disappeared.

The four students present at the time were Simon Kelleher’s next targets. There’s Yale hopeful Bronwyn, baseball star Cooper, prom Queen Addy and troublemaker Nate. All four were in detention because a mobile phone was planted in their bag. All four have secrets they would rather keep.

A Tumbler post from the murderer leaks reveals their secrets. Speculation spreads, from school to the local media, to worldwide interest. The four are brought together as they avoid dodge the media and insinuation, but always there is the question: which one of us is lying?

breakbirdReview:

A total page turner which kept me guessing until the last pages.

I love the conflict. Death turns Simon Kelleher into a saint, but lots of people were hurt by the things he wrote on About That. The story raises interesting questions about social media, and our constant obsession with other people’s lives. Do we have the right to know other people’s secrets? Is it right that anything and everything can become news?

My initial suspicions lay outside the group. I loved flagging up characters whose behaviour (as my favourite middle-grade detectives might say,) chimed a missing note. There’s Leah, who attempted suicide as a result of About That, who calls out people’s sympathies with Simon. Maeve, Bronwyn’s little sister, who knows a heck of a lot about Simon’s online presence. It was a great puzzle, spotting these characters, and weighing up their motives alongside the initial four.

The stories of the four suspects raised some great themes. Some would be total spoilers. Let’s stick with Nate, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s father is an alcoholic. Nate’s on probation for drug dealing, but is he a bad kid, or does he just want to pay his father’s bills? The other suspects come from homes which range from comfortable to downright influential. When the finger is pointed, their parents jump in with lawyers and law suits and useful advice. Nate’s the obvious suspect, and he’s got nobody. This is a hugely topical theme. The wealthy America we see in the films is only one side of the story.

Bronwyn was my favourite character. The bright girl who appears to have it all is full of insecurities. She’s not beyond suspicion – she knows a heck of a lot about autopsy result timings, and she’s got PREVIOUS with Simon Kelleher. She’s also the only person who sees beyond Nate’s drug dealing, and she goes all out to help him. Her parents are both Yale graduates. Bronwyn could turn her back on Nate, but she would rather open everyone else’s eyes.

The ending? Could have been better, but the puzzle was A1. I was gripped from start to finish. It’s not the ending I wanted, but the book is so fantabulous I’ll let the ending slide.

Highly recommended. Be warned: once you pick it up, you won’t put it down.