Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: YA, Thriller/Mystery, Contemporary
Source: finished copy
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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.
ONE OF US IS LYING is a YA mystery that has taken the book community by storm. Having been described as a cross between The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars, raving reviews were floating about long before its publication. Though the cover and the story caught my attention a few times, I wasn’t really planning on picking it up anytime soon due to my ever-growing TBR and the reading slump that I’ve been in on and off the past few months. Until, that is, I was stuck on a train and pulled up the eBook. I got less than 20 pages in, and I was hooked.
The story follows four characters that appear very cliche at first: geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess. So, your everyday YA characters. Except not really. All of these characters are presented as simple labels at the beginning and though they definitely live up to the stereotypes associated with these labels… the cute, broody bad boy who sells soft drugs, the jock who is actually a super sweet softie, the ‘princess’ who is super pretty except she doesn’t believe she’s pretty and has nothing else going for her to be honest, and then the geek who is actually quite pretty in that sexy, nerdy way. But as the story goes on, we learn more about the characters and layers are revealed as the investigation grows more serious and secrets are revealed. The characters are brought to life and individuals who I thought I disliked (*cough* Addy) surprisingly grew on me due to the character development throughout the book.
Up until halfway through, everyone was a suspect for me. And I mean everyone. The fact that the story was presented from the point of view of each of the main suspects, and the four individuals who happened to be present when Simon was poisoned, makes for an unreliable narrative. The title is literally One of Us is Lying but there is no way I could picture any of these characters committing murder. So the story had me guessing until near the very end.
The writing was quite distinct for the individual characters. I think Bronwyn (‘the Geek’) was my favourite character, alongside Nate (‘the Criminal’), at first but then Addy (‘the Princess’) really grew on me along with Cooper (‘the Jock’). I enjoyed how underneath the mystery, this story has a serious message about the devastating effects of bullying. And, more common with our generation, online harassment. However, that is not to say that the execution of the story was completely flawless. (I’m sure there’s some issues with the mental health rep in this book, demonisation of those with mental health issues). There could’ve been a more sensitive approach.
Overall, ONE OF US IS LYING is a captivating, YA thriller that holds you from the very first chapter until the ending and keeps you guessing. You don’t realise until you’re about 2/3 of the way through that you have become totally invested in all of the main characters, even though one of them might be a murderer.