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Opinion

Review: ‘One of Us is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus is a thrilling mystery novel

Sure, classic mystery books are written fantastically. Every book in the Sherlock Holmes series has a genius plot. But for me, it takes a couple of reads and some SparkNotes explanations to fully understand the plot of all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. His books are just a little easier to follow than Shakespeare’s plays.…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/joliewng/" target="_self">Jolie Wang</a>

Jolie Wang

October 8, 2021

Sure, classic mystery books are written fantastically. Every book in the Sherlock Holmes series has a genius plot. But for me, it takes a couple of reads and some SparkNotes explanations to fully understand the plot of all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. His books are just a little easier to follow than Shakespeare’s plays. I obviously won’t enjoy a story I don’t understand. And if I don’t understand the story, I’ll surely become bored of it.

Modern mystery books, however, are just as intriguing as classics, and easier to comprehend to boot. “One of Us is Lying,” a book written by Karen M. McManus, is about five Bayview High School students who get stuck in detention with each other. However, only four of them walk out alive.

The four students who were in the classroom with Simon, the victim, are immediately the prime suspects of the murder case. Throughout the story, the four students, Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate, try to figure out who murdered Simon Kelleher, while trying to clear their own names.

When I first began reading this story, the first thing I noticed was how long it has been since I read a physical book. As I continued reading, the second thing I noticed was that I was actually getting immersed in the story. Because of the coronavirus, I’ve been scrolling through social media rather than sticking my head in a book. This was the first book that I’ve read in a while that I’ve actually enjoyed.

The book isn’t very long, and the story isn’t cliche, so you automatically want to continue reading to find out who committed the crime. It’s not a book where you can immediately guess who the murderer is; McManus keeps you guessing until the very end.

“One of Us is Lying” has a unique format. The story is told without a narrator, but rather it is told through the eyes of the four murder suspects. Through each of the character’s perspectives, we get to know their personalities better and get a glance at their personal lives as well.

The plot is unpredictable. McManus keeps readers on the tips of their toes throughout the story. One moment I was suspecting one student, the next chapter I was suspecting another, and then I just didn’t know anymore.

This story also highlights how people tend to conform to society’s expectations, and how you’re judged for being yourself. It portrays the imperfections of life, and how things aren’t always going to unfold the way you want them to. It’s realistic, and it makes readers sympathize with the characters. It’s especially relatable for high schoolers since the main characters in the book are in high school.

The book is full of twists and turns, but the bumpy roads of the Bayview four’s lives eventually smooth themselves out. Although the characters have many conflicts throughout the story, they resolve them and everyone gets the closure they deserve at the end.

All in all, “One of Us is Lying” is a wonderfully written book with a creative plot. There are very few books that can keep me from continuously glancing over at the clock, and this one was so engaging, it really made me lose track of time. If you want a book that’s exciting, but not too tedious to read, “One of Us is Lying” is definitely a book you should check out.