My second book club choice for the month was One Of Us Is Lying, the debut novel by Karen M. McManus. I had seen this book around on social media and its premise sounded really interesting so it was a book I was really looking forward to reading.
The events in this novel take place in Bayview High School, and begin with five students heading to detention. However, life for these students takes a dramatic turn for the worse when only four of them leave the classroom alive. From the start this had me gripped, and I was eager to find out who was responsible for the death of a fellow student. The victim is a boy named Simon, something of an outsider in the school who happens to know a lot about his peers, publishing their deepest secrets online on a notorious gossip page. And it soon becomes apparent that the four prime suspects in the murder investigation all have secrets to hide, and Simon knew all about them. These students include Bronwyn, a promising student who always adheres to the rules. Then there is Cooper, a baseball player who has captured a lot of attention with his sporting prowess, and Nate, a bad boy who is no stranger to crime. And finally there is Addy, the prom queen who on the surface has it all but like her fellow suspects there are aspects of her life she wishes to keep under wraps. Questions are raised as to what they each have to hide, and which of them had it in them to silence Simon forever…
The story switches between the perspectives of the four students as the investigation gathers pace. I found this easy to follow and it was an effective way of learning about each of the characters in more detail. As is stated on the cover and within the novel, the four main characters do resemble stereotypical characters from a teen movie – the geek, the jock, the princess and the bad boy. However, as the story progresses we discover there is far more depth to each of the characters than their stereotypes would indicate. I found their individual stories to be interesting, and there is a gradual reveal of information as the investigation takes its toll on the students and their families with more secrets and lies bought to the surface. This story is gripping throughout and cleverly written to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of Simon’s killer and I found myself changing my mind a couple of times! As the novel builds up to its intriguing conclusion, the reader finds out a lot about each of the characters and the issues they face and it deals with various themes including relationships and sexuality, identity, popularity and the pressures of being a teen. All this together combines for a murder mystery that had me hooked till the end as I was desperate to get to the truth.
I really enjoyed One Of Us Is Lying and whilst it is marketed as a YA read I can see this being enjoyed by older readers too. With its blend of secrets and lies and its portrayal of teen life in all its complexity it is an entertaining read in which the reader is left to question who they believe.