By Julia Hartke
Karen McManus has been enlightening the young adult section of bookshops since 2017 and even though she has only published two novels so far, she is one of the brightest stars in the night sky of book-loving teenagers. After studying journalism at university she decided to concentrate on her writing skills and on publishing young adult fiction. One Of Us Is Lying was published in May 2017 and has recently been nominated in the category “Best Young Adult Fiction” for the Goodreads Choice Awards. Personally I would agree one hundred percent that this is one of the best crime stories for teenagers ever written.
The story is set in a typical American high school where five students meet during detention. The different characters remind one of the teeny movie Breakfast Club and fulfill all the typical clichés, from the misunderstood bad boy Nate to the goody two shoes Bronwyn. Tragedy happens when one of the five students suddenly dies from an allergic shock. An article is published a few days later which sheds suspicion on the other four students: each could be the possible culprit. Every one of them has a reason and possible motive for the murder and they are all suspects for the police. But who was really connected to the curious death of Simon? Was he really murdered? And if so, by whom?
Simon was not really your typical nerd because he also wrote an online blog with newsworthy gossip and tittle-tattle about the students from Bayview High. He was therefore not one of the most popular guys at school. Simon was disliked by most because of his damaging articles and his destructive rumors about others. Bronwyn is the genius geek of the group who never gets into trouble and stands up for everyone. She is the one that sympathizes with the misfit Nate, who has been arrested, gets into fights and deals drugs. The other main characters are Addy, the beautiful homecoming queen, and Cooper the baseball ace who has to deal with a lot of pressure from above. Even if these teenagers seem to fulfill all typical clichés, I would argue that most of the readers of this book can identify in some way with at least one of the characters. And let’s be honest here, we weren’t that wise either in our heyday. Most of the teenagers are impulsive, cringy and annoying, but that is what makes these characters so realistic and loveable.
One Of Us Is Lying is written in simple language and even though it is considered a young adult novel, I would argue that it is suitable for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story is told from different perspectives and the chapters are divided into the points of view of the protagonists. The style is really conducive to reading and understanding because you get an insight into everyone’s thoughts and the things that happen around them. Moreover, the depth of this story is great and there is so much more than just the conflict around Simon’s death. I love how the family backgrounds are brought into consideration and how the dynamics at home influence the characters.
The storyline is great with its mystery and all its shocking elements, the characters are even better, and to top it all I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the process what all four of the protagonists go through to grow into the people they were supposed to be. The rich character development and the highs and lows with a final twist are what makes this particular novel so likeable. I loved reading it and I enjoyed every second of it! When rating books, I’m usually rather restrained, but this is a book I would always recommend to anyone, not only teenagers. I can assure you that this crime novel is really enjoyable and the best book I read in 2018!
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
Released: May 2017
Recommended Age: 14-17
Genre: Crime, Young Adult