One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A sex tape.

– Opening sentence

Front the front cover alone, it’s clear to see that One of Us is Lying was somewhat inspired by The Breakfast Club (1985) (although no one in The Breakfast Club gets murdered).

I think that’s the reason why my boyfriend bought me the book for Christmas, as we recently watched the popular 80s film for the first time a few months back.

I don’t tend to read a lot of YA books at the moment. Not out of choice, but because I simply don’t own many of them. So when I first started One of Us is Lying it took me a while to sink into the particular feeling of a YA, and place myself into the mindset of my younger self. However, it didn’t take long until I was completely hooked.

The book begins with five unlikely students in detention.  Out of nowhere, one of them suffers a severe allergic reaction, and dies as a result. The remaining four students become murder suspects in the subsequent police investigation. Each of them is hiding a secret, but how far are they prepared to go to stop it from getting out?

One of Us is Lying is a well-written book that kept me guessing throughout. I kept trying to predict the murderer, but I’ll admit I remained clueless until the reveal.

As a 20-something London commuter saving to buy my first home, I still consider myself to be pretty young and clueless about many things. However, reading this reminded me of how grown up I’ve become, and how much I’ve changed since my own school days.

It’s easy to forget the pressures of school, and the unspoken rules and regulations that everyone knows and follows. Looking back, with rose-tinted glasses and a new-found wisdom, it’s hard to recall the exact feeling. But as I continued reading One of Us is Lying I found it all come flooding back.

As a teenager I was constantly unsure of myself. I wasn’t part of the popular, seemingly “cool” crowd at school, but I wasn’t a “nerd” either. I flicked between a couple of different crowd, the “emos”, the “not-popular-but-friends-with-the-populars”, and the “not-quite-nerds-but-definitely-misfits”.

Being at school is like being in a bubble. Everyone knows everything about everyone – who’s still a virgin, who’s sleeping with who, who’s feuding, who’s doing drugs, who’s lying to their parents – everything.

And everything is so dramatic. We don’t trust any of the adults we should (parents, teachers, etc.) because they still treat us like children, when we’re obviously so grown up now.  The fact that whats-her-name kissed so-and-so a week after kissing so-and-so is HUGE news that spreads around the school like wildfire.

It seems ridiculous now, but that’s what school is really like (at least it was for me), and One of Us is Lying encapsulates that perfectly. As I was reading, I was constantly telling the characters to just talk to their parents, and not worry about things that are actually really insignificant. But then I’d remember all the things I hid from my own parents – and how I truly didn’t think they would understand and be supportive.

I’m pleased I read this book, it’s opened my eyes to a genre I don’t read much of – and I would happily read something like this again.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

I catch his reflection in the backseat window, and he can’t either.

– Final sentence

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