Book Summary: One Of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
(High School Level)
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‘One of Us is Lying’ is a young adult novel written by Karen M. McManus and published in 2017. The book became a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a television series in 2021. The story follows four high school students who are suspected of murdering their classmate, Simon, during detention. The novel explores themes of trust, betrayal, and the consequences of actions. This review argues that ‘One of Us is Lying’ is a well-written and engaging novel that uses compelling characters and plot twists to keep readers invested until the very end.
The novel centers on five high school students who are in detention: Bronwyn, the brainiac; Nate, the criminal; Cooper, the athlete; Addy, the popular girl; and Simon, the outcast who runs a gossip app that exposes the secrets of his classmates. During detention, Simon collapses and dies from an allergic reaction to peanuts. It is later revealed that his water bottle was laced with peanut oil. The four remaining students become the prime suspects in his murder investigation. As the story unfolds, each character’s secrets and motives are exposed, and the truth about Simon’s death is revealed.
Important themes in the book include the danger of secrets, the power of social media, and the importance of trust and communication in relationships.
One of the strengths of ‘One of Us is Lying’ is the way that McManus creates complex and compelling characters. Each of the four suspects has a unique backstory and motivation for wanting Simon dead. The story is told from the perspective of all four characters, giving readers a deep understanding of their thoughts and emotions. The use of multiple perspectives also adds to the tension of the story, as readers are left wondering who is telling the truth and who is lying.
Another strength of the book is the use of plot twists and turns to keep readers engaged. Just when readers think they have the mystery solved, a new piece of evidence or revelation is introduced that changes everything. The pacing of the story is well-done, with just the right amount of tension and suspense to keep readers hooked.
The book also uses literary devices such as foreshadowing and symbolism to add depth to the story. The use of Simon’s gossip app as a metaphor for the power of social media is particularly effective, highlighting the way that information can be used to manipulate and control others.
In terms of weaknesses, some readers may find the story predictable or formulaic. The use of multiple perspectives and plot twists is a common device in young adult literature, and some readers may feel that ‘One of Us is Lying’ follows this formula too closely. Additionally, some of the characters’ motivations may feel forced or contrived.
However, overall, ‘One of Us is Lying’ is a well-written and engaging novel that explores important themes and uses literary techniques to add depth to the story.
Readers who enjoy young adult mystery novels with compelling characters and plot twists will likely enjoy ‘One of Us is Lying’. The book is a great choice for high school students, particularly those interested in exploring themes of trust, betrayal, and the power of social media.
In terms of comparison to other works in the genre, ‘One of Us is Lying’ is similar to other young adult mystery novels such as ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and ‘Pretty Little Liars’ by Sara Shepard. However, the use of multiple perspectives and the exploration of social media as a tool for manipulation sets ‘One of Us is Lying’ apart from these other works.
Overall, ‘One of Us is Lying’ is a well-crafted and engaging novel that is worth reading.
Possible questions for a high school test:
- Who are the four suspects in Simon’s murder investigation?
- What is the metaphor used in the book for the power of social media?
- What are some important themes explored in the book?
- The four suspects are Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy.
- Simon’s gossip app is used as a metaphor for the power of social media.
- Some important themes explored in the book include the danger of secrets, the power of social media, and the importance of trust and communication in relationships.
- Kirkus Reviews. (2017, May 1). One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Kirkus Reviews. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/karen-m-mcmanus/one-of-us-is-lying/
- McManus, K. M. (2017). One of Us Is Lying. Delacorte Press.
Awards and Accolades
‘One of Us is Lying’ has received numerous awards and accolades, including:
- New York Times bestseller
- Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2017)
- ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2018)
- Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2018)
- Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Young Adult Novel (2017)
- ISBN: 9781524714680
- Number of pages: 368
- Publisher name: Delacorte Press
- First publish date: May 30, 2017
- Has it been made into a movie, TV, or other streaming format? Yes, the book was adapted into a television series.
Here are some other reviews of ‘One of Us is Lying’:
- Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-5247-1468-0
- School Library Journal: https://www.slj.com/?reviewDetail=one-of-us-is-lying
Where to Buy the Book
To purchase ‘One of Us is Lying’, visit: https://bookshop.org/a/1289/9781524714680
Is this Book Part of a Series? ‘One of Us is Lying’ is the first book in a duology. The second book, ‘One of Us is Next’, was published in 2020. To purchase the series, visit: https://bookshop.org/a/1289/9780593178751
About the Author
Karen M. McManus is a young adult author known for her mystery novels. She was born in Massachusetts and studied English at College of the Holy Cross and later earned a Master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. In addition to ‘One of Us is Lying’, McManus is also the author of ‘Two Can Keep a Secret’ and ‘The Cousins’. She has been nominated for several awards for her writing, including the Edgar Award and the Goodreads Choice Award.