One of Us is Lying

Bibliography: McManus, Karen M. One of Us is Lying. 2017. New York. Delacorte Press. ISBN-13: 978-1-5247-1468-0.


One of Us is Lying is a fast-paced young adult mystery novel. When five students are 51BgoE+i2ULcalled into detention and only four leave alive, suspicion is raised. Bronwyn (the brain), Addy (the beauty), Nate (the criminal), and Cooper (the athlete) all become suspects in the murder case of Simon (the outcast). Simon was disliked by nearly everybody in his high school because of his blog that revealed other students’ juicy, personal secrets. He was going to post secrets about Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper but he died before he had the chance.

One of Us is Lying is told from each student’s point of view as the case progresses. Loyalties are tested, relationships grow, and morality is questioned. Who killed Simon, and why?

Critical Analysis

One of Us is Lying brings up issues of drug addiction and abusive relationships. Additionally, an interesting parallel between this novel and the movie Breakfast Club is made.

One of the characters, Nate, is on probation for selling drugs. With an alcoholic father and no mother in the picture, he is left to make ends meet any way he can, even if it means selling marijuana and pills. Although he realizes he is a hypocrite for selling drugs when his mother was an addict herself, Nate can’t afford to pay bills and buy food with an honest job. However, his mindset begins to change when he grows close to one of the other suspects. His less-than-clean reputation makes him a top suspect in Simon’s murder case: an obvious scapegoat.

Addy, the beauty, and her older sister both experience abusive relationships in this novel. Addy’s boyfriend likes to control every aspect of her life, and he gets angry if she doesn’t do as he says. One of Us is Lying demonstrates in a unique way how a relationship is still abusive, even if there is no physical or outright verbal violence involved.

The author makes an interesting connection to the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. Each student in One of Us is Lying exemplifies a high school stereotype that mirrors those shown in The Breakfast Club. Additionally, these students meet and bond over the events that take place during detention. These parallels show that these stereotypes are still alive today and that people, no matter how different they appear on paper, can still form strong bonds.

About the Author

Karen McManus’s debut novel is the New York Times Bestseller One of Us is Lying. She earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA is journalism from Northeastern University. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and loves to travel with her son.


“An addictive, devour-in-one-sitting thriller with so many twists and turns you’ll be wondering until the very end: Who really killed Simon?” —Kara Thomas

“Twisty plotting, breakneck pacing and intriguing characterisation add up to an exciting, single-sitting thrillerish treat.” —The Guardian

“This is no ordinary whodunit…surprising and relevant.” —USA Today

“McManus knows how to plot out a mystery, but the real charm of the novel lies in the journey each of the characters goes on as the writer deftly avoids stereotypes and adds nuance to her characterizations while still managing to plant the occasional red herring. So make room for One of Us Is Lying in your bags, because this is one carry-on you won’t want to put down.” —Entertainment Weekly

Similar Reads

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Endangered by Lamar Giles

Review by Rachel H.