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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, to Penguin Random House UK and to the author for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own.

This book grabbed me simply the illusion on the cover to The Breakfast Club. 'A Jock, A Criminal, A Brain, A Princess.' It does, however, ramp things up with a murder. The premise is five students find themselves wrongfully in detention; one of them does not survive it and suspicion rapidly descends on the remaining four. An issue which is not helped by the fact that the boy who died was the school gossip and each characters has something to hide.

Cooper, Nate, Bronwyn and Addy find their lives change in the aftermath of that day. They are questioned by police, hounded by the media and gossipped about by their peers. They also find themselves looking with suspicion at each other and at the same time bound together by their experience.

McManus does a wonderful job of bringing these characters beyond the two dimensional descriptors. I think the use of the narrative perspective shifting from one to the other helps with this, allowing us to see who they perceive themselves and by others. It also reveals to us the secrets that they are keeping. The shift doesn't allow the time frame to stall but moves briskly through the events. It give us a chance to see into the students' lives at home, the pressures they are under and  how this forms their identities and choices. There was enough time devoted to their family relationships that the strength of the bonds between, for example, Addy and her sister Ashton, were very clearly portrayed. The latter going out of her way to step up as a strong parental figure even though her own life is changing radically. 

I thought the title was an excellent starting point as I started reading with a sense of mistrust in the narratives being presented. The use and presence of social media and technology wasn't over done, although present it didn't feel as though there it was demonised. There are comparisons to be made to Pretty Little Liars and to a lesser extent Gossip Girl but it had a genuine softness when is came to the handling of the characters, which particularly shone through when reading Addy's perspective. The dialogue was natural sounding to my ear and created an immersion with the events. This book was great fun to read, I found that I did correctly surmise the conclusion of the plot before it was revealed but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment. 

For fans of - Pretty Little Liars, Dorothy L. Sayers, E. Lockhart.


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