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One of Us is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)

Title: One of Us is Lying (#1)

Author: Karen M. McManus

Published: 1st of June 2017 – Penguin

Format: Paperback – 360 pages

“That’s the kind of person you can get away with killing: someone everybody else wants dead.” – One of Us is Lying

Hello Hello! How are you?

Today, I am bringing you my LONG AWAITED review for One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus that I buddy read a few months ago with Stephen from Stephen Writes. This was my first book from this author and I had so much fun reading it and discussing it with Stephen, so keep on reading for my thoughts!

Thank you to Stephen for buddy reading this book with me!


Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

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

Bad boy 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 by Karen M. McManus is the first book in a YA mystery duology that centres around the death of Simon Kelleher and the secrets and lies of the four other people who were in the room with him when he died. I have been in a proper YA mystery mood ever since I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, you’re probably sick of hearing me say that, but I enjoyed it so much, it’s in the top books of 2020 and now so is this one.

As soon as Stephen and I decided to buddy read this book together, I knew it was going to be awesome and I also knew that I was going to have to find a million other YA mysteries. There is just something so addictive about this kind of book, so if you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments.


This book is set in Bayview High and in the town surrounding this high school. I don’t think I remember exactly where it is set, but it’s in the United States, in the typical high school setting you see in all the U.S. TV shows. I hadn’t read a book in a high school setting for a while and I have to say that while I haven’t enjoyed them as much lately, this one was done really well. Yes, these people are at school and a lot of things that happen, happen at school, but it didn’t feel like it was only about school.

What I liked about this book was that we got to see into each character’s life and see what their home life looked like. I have to say, Stephen and I had so much fun speculating about who did it and why and the different settings and plot twists really tripped us up. Let’s just say, you will never, never guess who did it.


Bronwyn: Bronwyn is your typical good girl, she gets the best grades, she is involved in everything at school, she is a walking-talking-organising type of person, and I have to say, she gave me massive Spencer Hasting vibes (from Pretty Little Liars) but, she wasn’t snidey or mean like Spencer could sometimes be. I really liked Bronwyn and I ended up liking nearly all the characters (except for the awful, mean ones), but I think she might be my favourite.

Nate: Nate is a total bad-boy, criminal, the one you know you need to stay away from, but never do. I loved him from the first page and I am so glad at how it ended cause I got a bit worried for a minute there. It was great to see his character and learn new things about him, see him evolve through everything that happened to him.

Addy: Addy is the character who changes the most in this book and both Stephen and I were rooting for her the whole way. Towards the end, I just kept screaming and shouting aha! She goes from being a character which not much personality to such a strong-willed determined one, it was so great to watch it all unfold.

Cooper: I wasn’t sure about Cooper at the start, but as this book went on, he started to grow on me and by the end, he had my heart. There are some really awful things that happen to him and people around him, and I felt so sad, but he honestly came out so strong.

Simon: We don’t see much of Simon because he dies right at the start of the book, however, he is, as you can probably guess, central to the story and his presence remains strong in the book right until the end. This is a proper whodunnit and through the different characters in this book, we learn more about Simon, why someone would want him dead, and ultimately, the truth. It was such a shock.


High school setting: As I said further up, this book is set in a high school, and it was done really well. There were the usual awful people, the ones who think they are better than others, the popular people, the gossipers, and all other social groups we all had in our own high schools. I left high school nearly 4 years ago now, and it was kind of weird going back there, but it was also very much like Pretty Little Liars with the gossip and the lies, so it was an intriguing and riveting setting.

Death/murder?: It wouldn’t be a mystery without a bit of death and I personally love proper murder-mysteries, dead bodies, police investigation type books (that makes me sound really strange aha!). The question is, who did it? And why? You’ll have to read it to find out, but I guarantee, you won’t see it coming.

Depression: I’m just going to talk about this quickly, this book does touch on depression and I can’t say too much because it’s a bit of a spoiler, but I just wanted you to be aware of this theme in case it’s a trigger for you.

Friendship: In this book, there is murder and death, and depression and lies, secrets and gossip, but there is also friendship, which is a theme I adore in books, especially in YA ones. High school is hard, no one tells you that when you’re young, but it is and when you look back, sometimes you wonder how you got through. I found myself thinking that a lot of the things that happened to these characters happened to me or people I knew, and it’s kind of scary (there was no death involved, I promise), but friends always make any situation better. I loved getting to know these characters and seeing their relationship evolve.

Relationships: There are also some romantic relationships in this book, some I frankly hated and you’ll find out why as soon as you pick this book up, and two specific ones that I loved. I don’t want to say anything, but I was totally rooting for both couples. I hadn’t expected there to be any added romance, but I really enjoyed it.

Gossip: And obviously, the biggest and most present theme of this book is gossip, lies and secrets. It’s such a massive part of high school and it can be so harmful, I just wanted to let you know there are some vivid instances of gossip and the harm it causes to people, so just be careful reading this one if you’re sensitive to this theme. I do think, however, that the author made this so realistic and it really helped to push the story along.

Trigger Warnings: bullying, gossip (harmful), depression, cheating, mention of a school shooting, death, vivid allergic reaction, abuse, physical attack, drug-abuse/addicted parent, alcoholic parent, cancer, attempted murder, homophobia, slut-shaming.


This was honestly such a good book and I’m so happy that Stephen and I decided to buddy read it. We finished it really quickly and I think I could have even finished it in one go, it was that good.

I think I spent the entire last 100 pages screaming, throwing pillows or shouting “omg, what the hell, run, what are you doing, say something, omg you idiot, oh no they didn’t” etc. It was probably very funny to watch, but my thoughts and feelings were in total chaos. It’s very rare that I react so much to books, I hardly laugh when I’m reading (I have no idea why), but this one gave me all the feels.

The writing style was so fluid and it really made me feel like I was right there with the characters, who were so well developed and written and I loved seeing them evolve and grow. And that plot twist, wow, let me tell you, I did not see that coming.

I gave this book 4.5 stars (see below for full ASPECTS rating), it was absolutely amazing. I was so immersed, I had so much fun reading it and discussing it with Stephen. It was just missing that tiny little spark but I have to say, this one is going on my books-to-reread-list, I loved it. I highly recommend this book and this author, such a fun and shocking reading experience.

Thank you for buddy reading this book with me Stephen, I’m so glad I could speak about everything that happened because my brain was a mess once I finished it!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx


Atmosphere – 7

Start – 7

Pacing – 8

Ending – 8

Characters – 8.5

Theme – 9

Style – 8.5

Total = 56

4.5-star rating


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If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here:  Amazon UK  – Amazon FR  – Amazon US –  AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – WaterstonesBarnes and NobleKobo

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  1. Fantastic detailed review, Ellie! I love the way you’ve described all the different aspects of this book and it was such fun reading it with you. Thank you again for the buddy read 🥰

  2. This one has been on my tbr for a while now. Reading your review has brought it back to mind and definitely made me want to bump it up the list! I already thought it looked brilliant!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad my review made you want to pick it up, thank you so much, it’s so kind of you to say so! I hope you love it! 🙂

  3. I LOVED this book. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten to the second one yet. I was so stunned at the final reveal. One of the best in YA thrillers, imo,

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