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Book Reviews and Recommendations: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Updated on July 19, 2019

If you've been following this blog for a while then you might have noticed that it has been a long time since my last book review and recommendation (too long in fact!) and so I wanted to kick things off again with a novel I recently picked up, became obsessed with and refused to put down.

'One Of Us Is Lying' is the debut novel by Karen M. McManus which was published in May 2017 and so far, I've seen many people describing it as the perfect combination of The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars - I have to agree with them.

But the similarities to John Hughes's hit 1985 cult classic film were no mistake as according to McManus, this is where her inspiration first stemmed from. In an interview she said:

'I actually got the idea while I was driving and listening to the radio. I think there’s something about having half my brain engaged in a mundane task that kind of gives the other half freedom to roam. I started thinking it would be fun to write an update of that movie, which I loved, but with some sort of a twist. And the phrase ‘The Breakfast Club with murder’ popped into my head, and it just stuck there.'

— Karen M. McManus

Despite the glaringly obvious similarities to our fave 80's flick, the novel is so crammed full of twists, turns and original ideas that it holds weight as it's own story and not as a retelling of something we've already seen before.


My Favourite Thing About One Of Us Is Lying

For me, the special thing about One Of Us Is Lying is that it draws familiar details from an iconic film but creates an updated and current atmosphere that many people today can identify with.

Gone are the days when you could make a mistake and recover from it in a short period of time after allowing the initial situation to blow over. No, in this day and age, our mistakes are documented, saved, shared (thank you social media) and are seemingly never forgotten with many malicious minded people dragging up the past any given chance. Because of this, it can often feel like we live in a society that would rather see the worst in people and tear them down for their flaws. This not only stunts personal growth but it also has a detrimental effect on people's mentality, especially teenagers who are struggling to fit in and find their identity without the added pressure.

Karen M. McManus recognises this issue and uses it as a recurring theme throughout the novel which leads readers to question their own behaviour towards gossip and how they might react to mistakes others have made. By encouraging others to self-reflect in this way, one can only hope that people strive to become the best version of themselves.



One core similarity One Of Us Is Lying shares with 'The Breakfast Club' is our main protagonists who all meet together in after school detention and - you guessed it- they each represent different cliques you might find in high school; the beauty, the jock, the nerd and the bad boy. The only one who doesn't fit the generic American stereotype is Simon, and unlucky for him, he's the only one who doesn't leave detention alive.

After Simon's sudden death, police involvement is pretty much imminent and it doesn't take long for news to spread that his death was no accident. With Simon's gossip app About That, threatening to leak the deepest secrets of his four classmates, it becomes apparent that they each have a reason for wanting him dead.

It's clear they all wanted him out of the picture, but which one of them is lying?


If like me you love getting inside the mind of more than one character, then you're sure to love this book as it gives an insight into each of our four accused students who are being questioned over the cold-blooded murder of Simon. This allows the reader to see different angles of the narrative and piece together the information shared by each character to paint a more detailed picture.

Though targeted at a young adult audience, One Of Us Is Lying is a compelling mystery novel that tackles a variety of social issues such as mental health, self-harm, bullying, dysfunctional families, sexuality, alcoholism and drug abuse and so much more. Although these are difficult subjects to tackle, Karen M. McManus manages to handle them both sensitively and candidly, which not only offers a more realistic account of each situation but it also gives some vital education to the reader.

Overall, McManus has created characters who on the surface seem to fit with traditional stereotypes but upon closer inspection, are much more three-dimensional than one would have originally expected. This in itself builds on the adult-friendly atmosphere and makes it an enjoyable read for everyone.

What Is Your Favourite Book Genre?

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If you're looking for a real page-turner that involves a steamy romance, complicated relationships and a whole lot of suspicion right up until the very end, then be sure to pick up One Of Us Is Lying whenever you get the chance.

If you have already read this novel then I would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and opinions in the comments section below!

Will you be adding this novel to your shelf?

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© 2018 BunnyClaws


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