Book Review

More Than What You Expect

One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you so much, Penguin Random House, for sending me a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

According to the description, if this book is an equation, it would be: The Breakfast Club + Pretty Liars = One of Us is Lying. I personally love TBC and PLL, and I completely agree with this equation.

Similar to the movie, The Breakfast Club, One of Us is Lying is about five high school students who walk into detention one afternoon: Bronwyn, the brain; Addy, the beauty; Nate, the criminal; Cooper, the athlete; and Simon, the outcast and the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. What made this book have the Pretty Little Liars vibe (if you can call it that), is that before the end of detention, Simon dies, and it turns out that his death is not an accident. He was planning to reveal the most-kept secrets of his four classmates, which makes them prime suspects of Simon’s murder. The question is, who really killed Simon? Is it one of them? All of them? Or maybe, an entirely different person?

First of all, Simon is a terrible person. He would probably make it to the list of most-hated YA characters. He is a social climber who is obsessed and hungry for attention and fame. What really irked me the most was his gossip app. His posts could ruin friendships, relationships, reputations, dignity, and so much more. Why couldn’t he just mind his own business? It would not be a surprise if people hated him to the point of hurting or killing him. He was really asking for it.

Before reading this book, I was expecting that the story would be full of mystery and secrets, just like PLL. As expected, there was an element of mystery surrounding the plot, but I was mildly surprised that it also dealt with different issues, which reminded me a lot of TBC. The plot contained topics like parental expectations, misuse of drugs, injustice, toxic relationships, friendship, mental illness, and others that I don’t want to mention because they might be potential spoilers. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you read the book. There was this part that I didn’t see coming, and I was quite gobsmacked when I read it. Which brings me to another point: social constructs and stereotyping. As you might have noticed in the book description (or by watching TBC), the characters represented different stereotypes. Each of them were expected to behave in a certain way, but as the plot goes on, you’ll notice that there’s more to their stories other than the label that they were given. I failed to notice this in the first part of the book, which is why I was getting a little bit bored in the beginning. But when I realized what the author really wanted to impart besides the mystery of Simon’s death, it made my reading experience more fun and remarkable.

Going back to the mystery of Simon’s death, I had a few guesses about his killer. I made myself aware of each of the character’s actions, looking for clues that might lead to the killer (I felt like Sherlock Holmes lol), then this vital hint came, and I didn’t know if the author did it on purpose, or she made a mistake of spilling too much beans before the big reveal, but it made the ending quite predictable. I was enjoying the fuzzy blur of not really knowing who the killer was, which made me want to read more of the book. But after I read that clue, my interest deflated a little because I could longer have fun making theories about Simon’s death. But even though I already had an idea about how Simon died, I was still surprised because I could have never guessed the second half of that mystery. I was pleased that the plot still had something up its sleeve when I thought that I had completely figured it out.

To sum it all up, One of Us is Lying is a very interesting read. It’s a great reminder about how a story (or a person) has a lot more to offer than what you expect it (or them) to give. Fans of The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars, you’ll definitely like this!

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3 thoughts on “More Than What You Expect

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