Friday, April 28, 2017

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

One of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManus

Synopsis:
One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
  And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.



(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected publication date:  May 30th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble


My Thoughts:

TRIGGER WARNING: depression, suicide

HOLY MOLEY, SWEET MOTHER OF MILKSHAKE MAKING MURDERERS! I don’t know where to begin, I love everything!

THE CHARACTERS! The book is in a quartet alternating PoV among Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper. I’ve warmed up to Bronwyn almost instantly. I love her spunk and how she tries so hard for even the most mundane of things. Nate has this mysterious air about him that made me read more about him just so to discover what’s his deal. And then Addy surprised me with her transformation from an “airhead homecoming princess turned badass ninja investigator”. And even Cooper whom I thought had a personality of a cardboard became interesting and even turned into a kind of a superhero in the end.

THE FRIENDSHIP! Just like I don’t like insta-love, I also hate insta-friendship. “One of Us Is Lying” is gladly nothing like that. The book showed a dynamic and complex forged connection among the four main characters. Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper are the contradictions of each other’s images. They have no interest whatsoever on becoming friends even the day after the whole Simon incident. How could they, when they are all murder suspects? But then the investigation becomes more and more oppressive that they have no choice but to rely on each other. So they start sitting on the same cafeteria table after their own cliques ditched them. They sneak out on abandoned construction projects and hold “murder club” meetings in order to piece together the puzzle that is Simon’s death. Did they become friends even then? Well, to paraphrase Cooper’s words: they are not exactly friends but not nothing either.

THE ROMANCE! Just like in the iconic John Hughes movies this book is loosely made after, two of the “murder club” members start being attracted to each other. As expected, their romance has a forbidden love element to it and I love how their relationship is so well-developed and made me wish for a happily ever after for them. There are also two romantic sub-plots that are too cute for me not to mention. 

THE SISTERLY LOVE! I am a sucker for books with large helpings of sibling love and let me tell you, the sister affection meter went off the charts with this one. Bronwyn has this feisty younger sister Maeve, whom she is so protective of. Addy has this older sister Ashton, whom supported her through and through with the whole Simon thing. Then there’s this one time when Addy casually invited Bronwyn and Maeve over for a “sisters’ night” and I am like beyond ecstatic with the whole idea of these four girls hanging out! OMG, I can’t get enough! Something came up tho and the sisters’ night did not happen in canon. But in my mind, sisters’ night happened after the book’s timeline and became a regular thing among them.

THE DIVERSITY! The diversity of characters is not just there in order to tick off a box in a checklist. The diversity bears an importance with the story. It also helps, in a way, to move the narrative forward. For example, in Bronwyn’s case, being half-Colombian means avoiding association with Nate because her father hates the Colombian drug cartel related stereotype. And Mikhail Powers being a gay investigative journalist, eventually helped our main characters to sway the public opinion to their favor.

THE DETAILS! The author’s attention to details are just astounding. I cannot think of another contemporary YA that takes notice to the littlest of things such as this book. For example, there are these things that were mentioned just in passing that made the characters real and relatable: Addie checking for her period, dealing with a pimple, and the chore of maintaining a pixie hair cut. Cooper’s Southern accent is also a character nuance that is effectively detailed. When the narrative is in his PoV, his dialogues are mostly straight and un-accented but when the narrative’s PoV shifts, Cooper’s accent is visibly there to the other characters. And the blurb does not joke when it said pay close attention so you can keep up with solving the murder. Just a hint: take note of the characters’ hair and eye color.

THE WHODUNIT ELEMENT! So as not to give away a lot, let’s just say that I am beside myself guessing who the murderer is. Who among the four main characters is lying?! The ending is just brilliant. It’s not much of a shocker but it is extremely satisfying.

“One of Us Is Lying” is “The Breakfast Club” on steroids!!! If you’re a fan of the iconic movie, this book is that and so much more.


Diversity Watch:
The existence of this part of my review is thoroughly discussed in this post. The formula is basically this: list of characters + explicit race and gender description in the text = overall look of how diverse the book is.

Those with no mention of race and gender beside their names are racially indeterminate and/or gender non specific characters.


  • Bronwyn Rojas – dark ponytail, gray eyes, Colombian father, fourth generation Irish mother
  • Simon Kelleher – blue eyes
  • Nate Macauley – dark haired, dark blue eyes
  • Adelaide “Addy” Prentiss – blond haired
  • Cooper Clay – has a Southern accent,sandy haired,  hazel eyes, Captain America face
  • Luis – one of Cooper’s buddy, darker haired  tanner skin than Cooper
  • Jake Riordan – Addy’s boyfriend, blue eyes, chestnut hair
  • Keely – Cooper’s girlfriend, tawny skin, Swedish dad and Filipino mom
  • Ashton – Addy’s older married sister, blonde
  • Yumiko Mori – Bronwyn’s friend, black haired
  • Maeve – Bronwyn’s constantly sick sister, dark brown hair, amber eyes
  • Kate - Bronwyn’s friend
  • Lucas – Cooper’ 12 yo brother
  • Janae Vargas – Simon’s only friend
  • Luis, Olivia Kendrick, Vanessa Merriman, Tyler, Noah, Sarah
  • Amber
  • Chad Posner – hangs out with Nate sometimes
  • TJ Forrester – cocoa colored skin
  • Leah Jackson – tried to kill herself because of a Simon’s app gossip
  • Aiden Wu – transferred schools because Simon outed his crossdressing
  • Kris – of German descent, green eyes
  • Sam Barron – dark haired, brown eyes
  • Reggie Crawley
  • Evan Neiman 


PARENTS, TEACHERS, OTHER ADULTS

  • Mr. Avery –teacher in charge of detention
  • Ms. Grayson – one of the teachers
  • Mr. Contos – one of the teachers
  • Mrs. Park – Bronwyn’s homeroom teacher
  • Principal Gupta
  • Mr. O’Farell
  • Dr. Resnick
  • Mr. Camino
  • Officer Hank Budapest – sandy haired and freckled
  • Kevin – Cooper’s dad
  • Justin – Addy’s stepdad
  • Josh Langley – athlete scout
  • Officer Lopez – Nate’s probation officer
  • Detective Laura Wheeler
  • Lorna Shaloub – family liason for Bayview School District
  • Detective Chang
  • Detective Mendoza
  • Robin Staffod – Bronwyn’s lawyer, dark skinned
  • Coach Ruffalo – Cooper’s baseball coach
  • Mikhail Powers –gay,  dark skinned, gay
  • Ms Mara- Addy’s science teacher
  • Eli Kleinfelter – curly haired
  • Mary – Cooper’s lawyer


My Rating:
 

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