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

One of Us is Lying

One of Us is LyingGenre: Young Adult
Date Published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 360
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia

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Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

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Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 


Trigger warnings: suicide, homophobia, abuse, bipolar

Pitched as the Breakfast Club feat. Murder One of Us is Lying had all my checkmarks for a potential new favourite book:

  • Thriller
  • Multi POV
  • Misfit characters

Unfortunately, it fell short.

In my opinion, what this book did get right is the multiple points of view. Each character being defined to a single trope could spell disaster, but I think Karen M. McManus delivered it perfectly. Whilst I did enjoy certain characters more than others (Ads was my favourite) each one was more than just their main attribution.

One of Us is Lying is very fast paced and I found it so hard to put down. Every time a chapter ended I instantly wanted to keep reading the next one. I did guess the “twist” early on, but I was still kept interested enough to want to see how it all ended.

I had quite a few issues though. There was a ton of misogony – the words “slut” and “bitch” are mentioned a lot and not in a reclaimed positive context. One of the character’s mother also has bipolar and whilst I’m not bipolar I felt like it was handled really poorly. There was no real education on bipolar and the mother was given so many negative traits.

I can’t sit here listening to her promises and hoping it’ll all work out. That she’ll stay sober, stay employed, stay sane.

I like when less “socially acceptable” traits of mental illness are included in fiction and I know that some people must have hard childhoods growing up with a mentally ill parent, but it just felt like such a cop out and an insult to people with bipolar who are genuinely trying to be a good parent or family member. There was also some ableism:

He got a workman’s comp settlement and wound up disabled enough to collect social security. 

What kind of rehab-speak is she spewing?

There was also terms like “whack job” used and some casually mentioned “slitting your wrists“. A character’s sexuality was also somewhat used as a plot twist which also never sit rights.

One of the things I think this book did get right was the portrayal of an abusive relationship. It’s why Ads is my favourite character from this book. It really shows just how much an absuive relationship can affect you. At first Ads can’t see the abuse which is the case for a lot of people in abusive relationships, but then she eventually realises what is happening and she removes herself from the situation. I was so proud of her. I know this can’t always happen in abusive relationships, but the situation wasn’t glorified. She also had a fantastic relationship with her older sister.

The main problem I had with this book would be considered a “spoiler” even though I think it’s something that should be talked about in reviews because it really made me feel awful. I’ll try and keep it as vague as possible, but ultimately this glorified suicide so much. This was one of the biggest cases of “suicide revenge” that I’ve seen. It’s not even that the character didn’t display “typical” symptoms because I appreciated that. It was the fact that it made people who are suicidal or who have committed suicide into a “villain”. I know this isn’t a book about mental illness so it’s not going to be the focus, but it was all just used as a negative character trait and it made me so uncomfortable. I’m so over the “mentally ill people are dangerous to society” trope. So. So. Over it.

I realise my opinion on this book is really unpopular to most others, but even though it was fast paced and kept me reading it missed the mark on so many elements. I just couldn’t get past the fact that mental illness was so awfully represented.




Have you read One of Us is Lying or is it on your TBR?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I hope you’re having fantastic day.

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

  1. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book, so I appreciated reasing another perspective. Thanks for an in-depth and awesome review!

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      Ahh, welcome to the community 😊 I think one of the best things for new bloggers is to interact with other bloggers as much as possible. I also recommend participating in some of the weekly memes like Top 10 Tuesday and going through the link ups so you can find new blogs ect. I am not that great at reviews, but I think it’s important to just be honest even if it’s an unpopular opinion! I have a post called Newbie Blogger Tips here: if you’re interested!!

      Your blog looks fab! You’re doing a great job 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review for this book Lauren, I have read One of Us is Lying but it’s on my to-read list and actually before this I’d mainly seen positive reviews.
    It sounds like a good story in keeping you hooked every time a chapter ended but I’m not keen on the downsides you mentioned; the ableism, the bipolar representation that wasn’t well done, and definitely not the suicide revenge side to the story. I’ll be going into this book already aware of those traits so hopefully I’ll be prepared for them when I reach them you know. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I hadn’t seen too many people bring up the issues I had. I understand because it’s only recently that I’ve started to really look for this kind of stuff and be more self-aware of what I’m reading. I think I could have enjoyed it a lot more if it didn’t portray mental illness in such a negative way. Thanks, Beth!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a shame because if it’s in this book it’s something people should be aware of. You never know what someone could be sensitive about reading. I’m trying to do the same when it comes to reading but at times I get too sucked into the story I’m not aware of it you know?
        That’s all right! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this honest review! I was looking forward to reading it because I heard good things about it. But if it’s problematic then I’d rather not read it at all.


    1. Yeah, I’d mostly seen positive reviews too. I think a lot of people just probably overlooked it which is something I think I may have done in the past too, but I’m constantly trying to become more self-aware of what I’m reading and seeing potential issues. I think the “thriller” aspect was done reasonably well, but I was not okay with how mental illness was portrayed so negatively.


  4. Oh my. I’m glad I saw your review before shelling out for an imported hardback. I hate suicide glorifying books and this one sounds just like that thirteen reasons one. A pity.


    1. No worries! I hadn’t seen many people talk about the way MI was repped so I wanted to make sure I mentioned it. Personally, I loved 13 Reasons (but I think that’s because I read it when I was younger and at a time when I really needed to see suicide represented) but this was even worse imo because it really made the suicide victim out to be like a local terrorist/school shooter and it made me so angry.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am still reading this book from 15 days.I am 30% into it but I can’t just seem to move forward and I have no motivation to read it.


  6. Oh great review, Lauren, I’m so sorry you couldn’t enjoy that one so much, but I get it. I heard some positive reviews about that one so far, but hadn’t heard about all of these issues you just mentioned – I’m glad you brought them to light; I think I’ll stay away from that one. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Marie! Yeah, I hadn’t seen anyone mention these things either and it’s probably because they were overlooked. I honestly think I would have done the same too, but I’m definitely trying to be more self aware of what I read! As soon as I got the hint that mental illness was being used so negatively I knew I had to mention it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome review! I really loved the premise of the book and think it could’ve been so awesome but the ending just wasn’t great. I don’t think it was necessary, I could predict it was going to be a suicide but I really hated the way the whole terrorist thing was added in. I think it could have been brilliant and I’m disappointed because it was just so promising.


    1. Thank you!! Yeah, I predicted the ending too and was hoping it wouldn’t be such a glorification, but unfortunately it was :/ I think I could have enjoyed it a lot more if it was an actual murder or even if the mental illness rep was handled better.


  8. Fab review. I am glad you mentioned all those points, I think YA stories should be very careful in the way they handle some subjects and it sounds like in this case, some things were poorly done! But I always appreciate a well-crafted multi-pov narration 🙂


    1. Thanks! Yeah, it’s definitely either hit or miss. There’s still so many harmful tropes with stories that involve MI. It’s a shame this had such bad rep because the Multi POV was done great and the thriller aspect wasn’t too bad either.


  9. Great review, Lauren. I hadn’t heard about the issues you mentioned before, so I’m really glad your brought them up. It’s sad to see that mental illness was poorly represented in this book. That’s definitely not something we need right now.
    I’m still going to read it, but I’m glad I read your review. Now I know what to expect and what to look out for.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t read this yet, but it is on my TBR. I’ve seen very mixed reviews, so I’m hesitant to pick it up. However, I do want to gain my own opinion of the pros and cons. I’m hoping to read it soon. Thanks for the review! 🙂


  11. Oh no Lauren, I’m so sorry this disappointed! I have a copy on its way to me and now I’m worried I won’t like it either
    😦 Those issues will irk me, too, I’m sure.
    But great review – really well written. Hope your next read is more rewarding!


  12. Too bad you didn’t like it that much. I’m not usually interested in thrillers but this one seemed really fun – don’t think I’ll be picking it up tho. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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