One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Rating: 3 stars
Having spent quite a bit of time recently reading Fantasy novels I decided to try and take a different turn and squeeze in a little Young Adult Thriller between my Fantasy novels of choice that I have on my To Be Read shelf. Being a child of the 70's I have seen and loved the brat pack movie The Breakfast Club and as I'd heard that One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus had somewhat of a vibe of that movie about it as well as a mystery aspect I decided I would give it a try.
This is the story of 5 teens who are sent to after-school detention together. Bronwyn, the high achieving student with an Ivy League future ahead of her. Cooper, the school's baseball star, who is being scouted for the minors and offered lucrative scholarships for when he leaves school. There's Addy, the popular prom princess who has a long-standing relationship with the most popular boy in school. Nate is the delinquent, serving probation for drug charges he's a misfit from a difficult home life who's reputation proceeds him. Finally, there is Simon, the guy who runs the school gossip mill on an online app where he posts rumours about things from pregnancies to who's cheating on who and the scary thing is how accurate these rumours prove to be.
During their time in detention, Simon collapses after a drink of water and dies shortly thereafter after an allergic reaction. Suddenly the police are questioning whether it was an accident, after all the following day's online post Simon was due to release contained damning stories about all of the people who were in the room with Simon at the time. For Addy, Bronwyn, Cooper, and Nate their worlds are thrown into chaos as their secrets are spilled and people begin to question which one of them is responsible for Simon's death.
The premise of this book sounded excellent. It contained enough mystery on the blurb of the book to really grab my attention and so I delved in expecting to be hooked by the story pretty quickly. The story got moving really quickly as we join the story immediately as the said detention begins and we are treated to different character perspectives from the 4 suspects throughout the book as we get narration from them all individually. It doesn't give a long lead into the events of Simon's death and therefore most of the book is focused on the events following the incident as opposed to what happened in the room during Simon's death.
I didn't find myself as hooked in the story as I had anticipated with this book. I liked the characters and found that whilst their relationships with each other were wonderful to read about I truly did not care enough about finding out who had killed Simon to really engage with the story. This is because Simon was a horrible person, truly not a nice guy at all. We find out information about him throughout and read about the effects of his gossip mongering on the people he left behind and it is very difficult to find empathy with him. Had I really cared who did it I think I would have found this more suspenseful but instead I just wanted to shake the hand of the person who put an end to his ongoing destruction of people's lives.
I also didn't find the book built the suspense well at all. It read less as a mystery novel and instead focused more on the teen angst of the 4 suspects and their lives and the dirt that Simon had on them all at the time of his death. It isn't done in a way that leads us to suspect anyone more than another but instead leaves you thinking that these are decent kinds with nothing to hide and you root for them. You don't want to suspect anyone as they are all good at heart and have made mistakes but don't deserve the wrath brought upon them as a result. As the book progressed I began to have an inkling about what had actually happened and therefore the ending did not come as a big shock for me. It kind of made sense in context of the characterisation throughout the book and meant all the loose ends were tied up a little too neatly.
I couldn't say I loved One of Us Is Lying, it was an okay read. I could only give it 3 out of 5 stars though as it lacked a little bit of the real tension that I like in a thriller.