Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus - A Thrilling YA Mystery | Scattered Books Bookstore (2024)

17 Sep Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus – A Thrilling YA Mystery

Posted at 16:38h in Book Reviews by Moo N. Meat


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Karen M. McManus’s One of Us Is Lying is a gripping young adult mystery novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. With its compelling characters and intricate plot, this book appeals to both teens and adults alike. In this review, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the book, analyze its unique aspects, and evaluate its significance in the broader literary landscape.

Thesis: “One of Us Is Lying” is a must-read for fans of thrilling mysteries, addressing relevant social issues while engaging readers with its well-crafted storytelling.

Suggested reading age: 14+


One of Us Is Lying centers around five high school students who all find themselves caught up in a murder investigation after a classmate dies during detention. The story follows Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper as they become suspects in the homicide case, each hiding their own secrets that could ruin their lives. As the investigation progresses, the book explores themes of friendship, betrayal, identity, and the pressure to maintain a perfect image.


Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Strengths:
    • The character development is exceptional, with each protagonist bringing a unique perspective to the story.
    • The plot is well-paced, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.
    • McManus skillfully weaves together suspense, romance, and social commentary, offering a multi-dimensional reading experience.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Occasionally, the book relies on clichés and predictable plot twists.
    • Some readers may find certain characters less relatable or engaging compared to others.

Uniqueness and Literary Devices

One of Us Is Lying stands out for its clever utilization of literary devices. McManus expertly employs foreshadowing to keep readers guessing and build tension throughout the narrative. The use of multiple points of view allows for a deeper understanding of each character’s motivations and adds complexity to the storytelling. Additionally, the author subtly incorporates irony, symbolism, and allusions, elevating the overall reading experience.

In terms of uniqueness, the book defies expectations by addressing relevant social issues such as peer pressure, cyberbullying, and the consequences of secrets. By intertwining these themes with a compelling mystery, McManus creates a thought-provoking narrative that resonates with young readers.

Author’s Connection and Social Issues

Karen M. McManus offers a fresh perspective on the challenges faced by teenagers in today’s society. Through her characters, she explores the pressures of living up to societal expectations, the impact of social media, and the importance of authenticity. By delving into these issues, the book encourages readers to reflect on their own lives and the consequences of their actions.

While One of Us Is Lying is not explicitly autobiographical, McManus acknowledges drawing inspiration from her experiences as a high school teacher. Her understanding of the teenage mindset and the complexities of adolescent relationships shines through in her writing.


One of Us Is Lying would be enjoyed by readers who appreciate thrilling mysteries with strong character development and social relevance. Fans of authors such as Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins will find McManus’s style and storytelling technique appealing. This book transcends the traditional young adult genre, making it a compelling read for adult mystery enthusiasts as well.

In comparison to other works in the same genre, One of Us Is Lying stands out for its unique blend of mystery, romance, and social commentary. While reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunits, McManus’s modern take explores contemporary issues, making it relatable to today’s readers.

Final thoughts: “One of Us Is Lying” is a gripping, well-crafted mystery that keeps readers engaged and entertained. With its relatable characters, thought-provoking themes, and skilled storytelling, this book is highly recommended.

Possible Questions for a High School Test

  • 1. Which literary devices are prominently used in “One of Us Is Lying”?
    Answer: Foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism.
  • 2. What social issues are explored in the book?
    Answer: Peer pressure, cyberbullying, and the consequences of secrets.
  • 3. How does Karen M. McManus connect with the themes in her book?
    Answer: As a former high school teacher, she draws inspiration from her experiences working with teenagers.


Awards and Accolades

  • Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction (2017)
  • New York Times Bestseller

Functional Details

  • ISBN: 9781524714680
  • Number of pages: 368
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • First publish date: May 30, 2017
  • Genre: Young Adult Mystery
  • BISAC Categories: JUVENILE FICTION / Mysteries & Detective Stories, JUVENILE FICTION / Social Themes / Friendship
  • Suggested Reading Age: 14+

Other Reviews

Where to Buy the Book

You can purchase “One of Us Is Lying” at

Is this Book Part of a Series?

YES! See the full series, here.

About the Author

Karen M. McManus is an acclaimed young adult author known for her intriguing mysteries and relatable characters. In addition to “One of Us Is Lying,” she has also written “Two Can Keep a Secret” and “One of Us Is Next.” Her books have gained widespread popularity and have been bestsellers on numerous charts.

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus - A Thrilling YA Mystery | Scattered Books Bookstore (2024)


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