Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

There’s always a lot of pressure that can come along with a Breakfast Club reference. It’s literally right there on the cover: ‘a geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess’. And although the characters from the 80s classic were way more than their cliched labels suggested, I wondered if Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate and Addy would prove that there is no box to be put in. I couldn’t be more pleased to say that the characters are what make this book amazing and you all know I love a good murder mystery, so that’s saying something.plotandpacingbanner

Simon Keheller is the school most hated student. He runs a gossip app that spills the beans on everyone’s darkest secrets. He’s also deathly allergic to peanuts. Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate and Addy are all given detention with Simon for using their phones in class, and ten minutes in, Simon’s dead on the floor. The logical step is to believe that one of the four main characters killed him, and that’s the line the police pursue, so it’s up to the new Murder Club (oh wow, they needed a better name) to figure out who really killed Simon and clear their names…while also having their secrets revealed. And it’s not just about taping some guy’s butt together, that’s for sure.

One of Us Is Lying is told with a rotating perspective, giving each character a chance to tell you what’s going on. The pacing was excellently managed, and I always felt the story was moving forward as new evidence came to light, rather than following the Pretty Little Liars tact of giving them a clue and taking it away in the next scene.

But, the murder itself? All I can say is amazing. I really tried to figure it out, and was so off base. The fact that I was surprised at the end earns this book a star on its own because the book achieved what it set out to do: baffle me.


Okay, now let me rave about how awesome everybody was. Even the side characters were fully fleshed out and I was practically crying with joy over the diversity and general 3-D-ness.

Bronwyn – The ‘nerdy’ girl, but not in the cliched ‘she’s-never-had-a-social-life’ kind of way, thank goodness. (“Neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie”? I think not.) Bronwyn, with her intelligent reasoning skills, and the help of her adorable computer-hacking sister Maeve (probably my fave character, ever) is the one to really question the evidence and drive the investigation forward. She took charge, and worked as the glue that kept the Murder Club together and I really appreciated that even though she didn’t really know these people, she wanted to help them and foster friendship out of the worst circumstance. Seriously, what’s worse than murder? Honest, loyal, a general All-Around-Great girl. Loved her.

Nate – Oh, Nate, characters like you always grab my heart. The bad boy with a heart of gold buried someone deep down (like, really deep down, but whatever.) Probably the most Judd Nelson type around, Nate was pretty awesome. He was dealing with a really crappy home situation (“A pack of cigaretttes! Smoke up, Johnny!”) and has a criminal record (can you really call yourself a criminal without one?) So, although he was potentially the most generic of the high school types, I loved how he and Bronwyn worked together. Yes, that is romance you smell, and it’s delicious.

Cooper – If I had to pick a favourite of the Murder Club, it would definitely be Cooper. I loved what he was doing to defy stereotypes, and I loved that the situation was a catalyst for him to think about his life and whether he was playing baseball because he enjoyed it, or because his dad did. (“Win! Win! Win!”) He also had a sweet grandma and a secret that you can probably all guess if he’s breaking the beefy-jock mould. I won’t spoil anything, but he’s the character I’m happiest for.

Addy – The girl I thought I’d hate, but really proved herself to be more than an accessory girlfriend to the most popular boy in school, and definitely not an accessory to murder. After the reveal of her secret ruins her social status, Addy gives herself a radical haircut and becomes the girl of action, with so much agency, it’s unreal. With another great sister relationship, it’s hard to choose which girl came out on top.


You know what? In writing this review, I’ve decided that four stars doesn’t do the story justice. I was trash from Bronwyn and Nate’s relationship. Every character came out of their shell. I was completely shook by the ending and it kept me guessing all the way through. The storylines gelled when, and so did the friendship. It’s a full 5 stars from me. If you’re looking for something you won’t be able to put down and that will astound you with its character development, look no further than One of Us Is Lying. 

Do you like The Breakfast Club? What’s some of the best character development you’ve read about? 



3 thoughts on “Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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