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Rosa the Dancer
Rosa the Dancer
May 25, 2024

A killer thriller


Karen McManus perfects the teen mystery

Looking around the mystery section of a bookstore at the end of July, I was craving a mystery novel that not only contained a thrilling mystery plot, but one that catered to a teen audience and didn’t mimic a book I may soon be reading for AP Lit.

After one Google search, I was immediately drawn to One of Us Is Lying; the plot seemed exciting and it had rave reviews. I went to the counter and asked if they carried the book, and they did, but they had sold out: my first sign that this was, in fact, a great book. After scouring a second bookstore, I finally found it, and within less than 24 hours, I had finished the book, an accomplishment I hadn’t achieved since middle school.

Now, eight months later, I’m still thinking about the twist ending, the cheesy romance, and the unlikely friendships within the book. Even compared to its sequel, this novel proves itself as one of the best teen mysteries on the market. It’s no wonder McManus has sold thousands of this novel and her follow up Two Can Keep a Secret. 

The book follows four different characters, each with their own secrets, and each a suspect in their classmate’s mysterious murder, which occurred while they were all wrongfully sentenced to detention. Being that the four of them were the only ones present in the room, as the boy, Simon, suffered an allergic reaction before dying minutes later, all the evidence points to one of the four. Bonded by their situation, they quickly become friends, thus entangled in each other’s lies and secrets. RT Review accurately stated it’s “Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club.”

Each chapter, the point of view switches between the four characters, which allows readers to easily access the different thoughts, ideas, and motives of each person. The writing is clear, interesting, and precise, and though it lacks the flair that highly-acclaimed literary books have, it’s an easy and enjoyable read.

It should be noted that while the writing style is easy to read and won’t cause readers to stumble over complex syntax or diction, it does cause a feeling of something missing; though I enjoyed the writing style, I did at times wish I were challenged a bit more.

Within the first chapter, each character is clearly distinguished, each likable but a bit stereotypical. Characters Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper and Nate are introduced as character tropes of smart, pretty and popular, sporty, and troublemaking, respectively. Though the stereotypes are a bit irritating and blatant at first, the characters quickly evolve into more dynamic roles.  As characters become more dynamic, they also become closer with one another. Addy seems superficial and easily confident in the first chapter; she’s soon shown to be jealous, unconfident, and wanting more of herself. With this change, she begins to confide in the other three main characters.

For the most part, they all begin with separate plots and interests, but as the novel progresses, they find that they have more and more in common, and they develop complex relationships among themselves.

Despite this being a mystery novel, much of it is focused on the interactions between characters. From a budding unlikely romance to dark secrets revealed, this novel is filled with dramatic storylines that easily maintain readers’ attention.

I’ll admit: it’s not a perfect novel. If you’re yearning to read something that you can brag about, this definitely isn’t the book. But if you enjoy cheesy, unrealistic, romantic teen stories, One of Us Is Lying fits the bill.

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