Overall Rating: 4/5
Quality of Prose: 2.5/5
Quality of Story: 4/5
Quality of Characters: 4.5/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 4/5
How Long It Took Me to Finish: 3 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
When Simon Kelleher, the writer of the school gossip blog, dies in detention, the other four students who were with him–all of which have secrets to protect–are the prime suspects.
My Favorite Quotes
“’The first seven years of the Joshua tree’s life, it’s just a vertical stem. No branches,’ she told me while we were hiking. ‘It takes years before it blossoms. And every branching stem stops growing after it blossoms, so you’ve got this complex system of dead areas and new growth.’ I used to think about that, sometimes, when I wondered what parts of her might still be alive.”
What I Loved About It
I have to be honest, I have never gotten into murder mystery, suspense/thrillers. I typically stay away from genre fiction as a whole. I don’t read much sci-fi, I don’t read romance, I don’t read mysteries. But I heard from a friend that this book was great, and I wanted to try something new. And I was definitely not disappointed. I really enjoyed reading this book.
McManus is great at keeping her readers engaged. Each character has multiple secrets that are revealed throughout the novel at exactly the right moments to change your view on who killed Simon and to keep you reading. For this reason, it was hard to put this book down. She handles the suspense, the romance, and the character development (all four of the main characters really grow throughout the novel and that’s rare for a mystery novel with four protagonists.) really really well.
Though this book didn’t make me super emotional or stay with me for days after finishing or blow my mind, it was a fun read and it had more depth than I’d expect of a YA mystery/thriller. And I think my kids would really, really like it.
What My Students Could Learn From It
This book reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why because of its likability but also because of the clear cut lessons it teaches teens.
There are clear morals to be learned when reading One of Us Is Lying. Don’t make judgments about people. Don’t define yourself by the relationships you’re in. Be kind to people because you never know what they’re going through and how the things you say or do might affect them. Be honest with the world about who you are. Don’t cheat. Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t sell drugs. Though I typically prefer books with more ambiguity and depth, I definitely see the draw of a book like this as a teacher.
And like I said, my kids–and yours–would absolutely love One of Us Is Lying.