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Thursday, April 14, 2022


Altogether, a good read for those into the USA High School genre. (Review by Barry Meehan)

“Five walk into detention. Only four come out alive.”

One of Us Is Lying is Karen McManus’s first novel, first published in 2017 in the USA, but now re-published through Penguin Random House, capitalising on the success of the Netflix series, airing from February 2022. There is already a sequel to the book on the shelves – One of Us is Next, with One of Us is Back scheduled to be released in 2023. Couple these with a few other successful standalone titles such as Two Can Keep a Secret, The Cousins and You’ll be the Death of Me, and it’s easy to see why McManus is being hailed as the “Queen of Teen Crime”.

Picture the scene – the detention room at Bayview High. Five students have detention – all having broken the school rules, being found with a cellphone in their backpacks. All of them deny any knowledge of the phones, so .... are they all lying, or is just one of them guilty of planting cellphones on the others? And what would the guilty one be gaining by framing the others? But this is not the only question.... 

-could a teacher be involved?

-what is the significance of the car accident outside?

-who has cleared all the Epi-pens out of the infirmary?

-who knew about the most hated scholar’s allergy to nuts?

-most importantly – do any of the five have secrets they would not want the rest of the school or their parents to know about? Or do all of them?

The questions come thick and fast in this novel, keeping the reader in suspense throughout. One word of warning – it would be better to read the book in one sitting, if possible, or ensure that you stop your read at the end of a chapter. The story is told from the viewpoint of the four survivors, so if one puts the book down halfway through a chapter, sometimes one has to retrace a few steps to see who is narrating at that particular time.

The surviving characters are all standard US High School stereotypes:

-Goody-Twoshoes Bronwyn, hoping to get into Yale. She has never broken a rule in her life – or has she?

-Cooper, baseball star who finds it difficult to function in real life. But is his real life more than a small secret?

-Prom Queen Addy, who seemingly has the perfect life with the perfect boyfriend. But does she?

-Nate, the school “bad boy” who seems destined for a life of crime. But is he really all that bad?

Unexpected twists and turns to do with their secrets there are a-plenty, with some romance thrown in, resulting in a well-constructed novel. Altogether, a good read for those into the USA High School genre.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus is published by Penguin Random House UK. ISBN   978-0-241-56201-7 – Barry Meehan