Triple C’s Book Review #9: One of Us is Lying

Triple C’s Book Review #9: One of Us is Lying

We’re Triple C: a dynamic trio of juniors (Kavya, Kailyn, and Anoushka), bonded by both a shared passion for literature and the coincidental charm of all having last names starting with the letter C. Our book review promises a diverse and engaging exploration of exciting books, and we invite fellow book lovers to join us on our literary journey!

Finding a captivating mystery novel can be a challenge. There are certain expectations that need to be met to be approved as a masterful story that weaves a gripping tale that is both thrilling yet satisfying. Growing up, I went through mystery novels like they were pieces of candy, eating up each detective case and starting another just as fast. I loved the photographic memory of Cam Jansen and the classic stories of Nancy Drew. I enjoyed being able to trace the clues and solve the case faster than the protagonist. Recently, my childhood love of mysteries has manifested through my fascination with movies like A Haunting in Venice and books such as A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Thus, when I saw One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus sitting on a shelf during my frequent visits to the bookstore, I knew I had to read it.

One of Us Is Lying stars five high schoolers whose initial differences neatly place them into the archetypal roles of a classic student body. However, their paths all cross when these students coincidentally wind up in detention together through some unseeming misunderstanding. Bronwyn is the typical brainiac, focusing on graduating with a perfect track record and an Ivy League future. Addy is the gorgeous and popular girl in the grade. Nate is the “bad boy,” always getting into trouble whether it is with the cops or at school. Cooper is the athletic superstar, with the eyes of college recruiters on him during each baseball game. Lastly is Simon, the one who does not fit in with any stereotypical group and who is known for his gossip app that exploits the secrets of his classmates for the whole school to see. 

However, after being sent to that fated detention room, Simon never emerges alive. A water glass that Simon drank out of in that room was coated with peanut oil, which he is deathly allergic to. When investigators swarm the scene, suspicion is cast on the four students who were in the room alongside Simon. The possibility of this incident not being just some unfortunate accident is amplified as the investigators learn that Simon had been planning on posting personal secrets about each of the four students in that room, providing each of those individuals with a key motive: to silence Simon.

Firstly, I do want to applaud the author for the plot concept. McManus crafted this story to make it relatable to her target audience of teenagers who are in school and dealing with these rigid stereotypical boxes and ongoing drama. She also incorporates the message of how people are more complicated than the confining boxes that label them based on one facet of their personality. While all the classic movies and books like to romanticize this idea of the personality stereotypes that divide up a school community, McManus provides a refreshing view to how messy people really are. Each chapter of One of Us Is Lying is told in the voice of one of the four students who were in the room when Simon died, and the reader gets an insight into what is going through the minds of these teenagers who witnessed such a tragedy. Each character felt real and McManus made an authentic voice for each individual, bringing the reader along for this journey of a murder case. 

So far in our Triple C’s Book Reviews, we have been sharing books that have stuck with us and that have remained some of our top current favorites. But I think it is also important to give reviews on books that we may not have loved as much too. For me, while I did enjoy reading One of Us Is Lying, I would not put it on the top of my lists for all-time favorites. I felt like the book missed the opportunity to be something more clever and crafty in how to guide the reader through this case. Within the first couple chapters, I already guessed the culprit. If I were to criticize one aspect of the McManus style, it would be the structure of writing each chapter in the perspective of different characters. It ends up ruining the mysterious sides of the individuals as the reader gets to know them. I think keeping the book either in the first person  or third person point of view could have led to a more successful mystery piece that could have made the ending more of a surprise.

However, I am keeping in mind that this is a book with a middle school and high school audience, so it makes sense that McManus may have chosen to not create an advanced storyline in order to appeal to younger readers. In spite of that, I did find the book a little disappointing, especially by how excited I was by the way the author had initially opened the plot. 

Nevertheless, I don’t want to discourage readers from giving this book a try. That’s part of the joy of reading: each book offers a unique and individual experience to every reader who decides to delve into its pages. 

Also as a side note, if you have read my last Triple C’s Book Review #6 on The Cruel Prince, I did end up reading the entire trilogy, and that is a book series that I loved so much. So if One of Us Is Lying ends up not being the book for you either, spend a weekend reading The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black!

<3 Kay

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About the Contributor
Kailyn Cho
Kailyn Cho, Senior Staff Writer
Kailyn Cho ('25) is excited to be a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. She enjoys playing tennis, traveling around the world, and chasing sunsets.