June 13, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: 'One of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus

For 2021, I committed to participating in a read-athon with a 'Friends' theme (the TV show). You can read more about it on this post. Each month, there is a different theme for choosing a book to read. June's theme is:

Rachel: "I wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle!" - Read a book where there is a mistake or misunderstanding.

It's hard to choose a book with a theme if you haven't read it yet, so I chose my book based solely on the title and description. I picked 'One of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus. (Amazon affiliate link)

Here is the publisher's description:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

          On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. 

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I love teen drama and I love murder mysteries, so this sounded like a good pick. And the title, 'One of Us Is Lying' indicated a mistake or misunderstanding, so it seemed appropriate for June's theme.

I enjoyed this book right away, although it took until I was about a quarter of the way through it to get REALLY invested in it. And when I finished, I immediately wanted to give it 5 stars--I LOVED how clever this story was! After some thought, I gave it 4 stars--I'm very stingy with 5 star reviews, and there were a few points that made me hesitate. Here are my likes and dislikes...



The entire story was very clever and took a LOT of planning on the author's part. You know from the beginning that someone dies in detention in a room with five other people in it. You know who winds up dead, so the mystery lies in whodunit.

I had a theory right away, but I it was so far-fetched that I spent most of the book trying to prove it wrong. In the end, it turned out to be correct! However, that did not take away from the enjoyment of the book AT ALL. I don't think it's a very obvious conclusion overall. And even if you guess it, to read later how it all ties up is mind-blowing.

I enjoyed this book just as much (if not more) for the teen drama as I did the mystery.

The characters were very likable. I liked all of them!

The storyline deals with important teen issues that are very prevalent today as well as the consequences of teens' behavior. This reminded me a lot of '13 Reasons Why'--although '13 Reasons Why' is about a girl's suicide and not a murder investigation, the girl describes how the actions of several others contributed to her making the choice to take her own life. In this book, we see how the actions of fellow students can contribute the death of their peer. In both cases, it's certainly not other kids' "fault" (unless they are the ones doing the killing), but it shows that we need to be nice to people and they hopefully won't make rash decisions.

I loved seeing the growth of the characters and they learn more about each other. When they wound up in detention together, they weren't friends or even acquaintances, really. Throughout the book, they get to know each other and you see their interactions change.


There were two things that stood out to me from the very beginning: 

1) The cause of death was anaphylaxis due to ingestion of a tiny amount of peanut oil. I remembered learning in chemistry or some class in college that peanut oil is not an allergen for people who are allergic to peanuts because it's the peanut protein that is the allergen. As soon as I read that it was the peanut oil that caused the anaphylaxis, I was skeptical--even cynical. However, this is addressed later in the book--apparently, cold-pressed, expelled peanut oil IS unsafe for people with a peanut allergy. (Do your own research on this--I only know this from a quick Google search!) So, I was wrong to be skeptical of the peanut oil--I just wish it had been addressed right away.

2) The fact that the police immediately focused their murder investigation on the four students (not even looking at other ideas) was unrealistic to me. My first thought was that anybody at all could have put peanut oil in the cup that Simon drank from and left it near the sink--it didn't HAVE to be someone in the room. The investigators should have looked at ALL possibilities from the beginning instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that it was one of the four students. (Even the teacher who was in the room with them wasn't considered a "person of interest".)

This isn't a "dislike" but it was a funny moment at the beginning of the book when I almost said, "Forget it! I can't read this!" When Simon was struggling to breath after ingesting the peanut oil, one of the kids rushed to him and then looked at one of the girls and said, "Do you have a pen?"

I've seen pretty much all medical drama shows on TV and there is ALWAYS at least one episode where an emergency tracheotomy is performed using a knife and a pen (and probably some sort of liquor to sterilize). I rolled my eyes, but the next paragraph stated the reaction from the girl--she immediately thought the same thing I did--was he going to perform a tracheotomy on this kid?!

She handed him a pen, and he said, "No, an Epi-Pen!" Hahahaha, I literally laughed out loud.

Anyway, I loved loved loved this book and I think it would make an amazing book club read or required lit for high school. It can spark a lot of discussion. It was also entertaining, and clever, and very well-written and thought out. Now I just need to talk my kids into reading it!


Because I loved this book so much, I'd love to give away a Kindle copy to one of you that is interested in reading it! (To read the Kindle copy, you just need a device that has the Kindle app. Although, you all know how I feel about my Kindle Paperwhite!)

To enter the giveaway, just fill out the Google form below and I pick a winner using Random.org. Deadline is June 23rd at 10:00 PM ET. I'll email you if you're a winner!


  1. This book sounds right up my alley! Thank you for the chance to win a copy!!

  2. I have recently fell in love with murder mysteries! I am usually the heartfelt book kind of reader, but that's been changing LOL

  3. I thought you would figure it out pretty easy, but even knowing, it's still a really good book. Like you, I enjoyed the characters and how they evolved throughout the book. I thought it was fairly easy to see them develop over time, unlike some books where it seems far fetched for someone to change.

  4. I'm so glad you liked it! The series with these characters continues, if you're really interested. They're pretty good.

  5. I've had this book on my to-read list for a while. I'm glad you liked it! Makes me want to read it even more!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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