Friday, March 23, 2018

#CBR10 Review #11: One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus

Adding myself to the list of fellow Cannonballers who have already reviewed One of Us is Lying recently (a few of said reviews made me want to push it further up my to-read pile!) and I must say, it was quite enjoyable! A little mystery involving a setup of various high school students from different groups all ending up in detention together, when suddenly one of them dies and the rest are now suspects in his apparent murder. Right from the start you get a sense that something is fishy about all this, and that those 4 other students in detention don't actually have anything to do with it, but that perhaps they have other secrets of their own that they don't want to get out. Because of course the one who dies is running a popular but nasty blog of secrets that has info on all of the suspects which was about to be released. So what really happened?

Being a YA novel, you get some similar tropes of characters as are found in others, but I really did come to like all of these characters by the end and found them to have a few different layers than just being completely stock and therefore predictable. And unlike something like The Breakfast Club (the setup alludes to it before going off on it's own path) wherein the kids in detention bond or become friends but really only for a day, this one showed how experiencing a trauma or facing difficult circumstances can really make or break relationships: you find out who your friends are when shit hits the fan, or so some might say. 

I will admit that a lot of these kids' secrets and how the plot was going to unravel, I was able to guess as the clues were pretty glaring, though this didn't diminish the fun I had in trying to figure it all out or see where it went. Because there were still some surprises to be found, in particular with some of the subjects that were brought up that I wasn't really expecting. One of these involved a plotline of excessive control in relationships, which I think is important as sometimes this possessiveness is shown in a positive light ("he just cares so much about you") when really it should be raising red flags. Yet another subject that wasn't per-say delved into too deeply, but was definitely brought up made me pause, as I find it is really topical at this time: that is, the idea of radicalization and/or the rise of "red-piller" and "incel" types via online groups. It's something that I've been seeing more of lately and in particular with some people close to me, though in a slightly different vein of joining up with some pretty sour echo-chambers of thought online in regards to others and I just can't stand it. So obviously I would have liked more exploration in the novel there, but even just having it mentioned was a surprise that I appreciated and think is pretty poignant to include in what could have been nothing more than a kooky high school mystery.

Also this is not the first novel I've read this year that involves a local/high school gossip blog that is out to ruin people or start rumors (that are usually true). Was Gossip Girl ahead of it's time? Because I am fortunate enough to say that I never ran into something like that in my high school days, the most we had was that popular widget to put on your Facebook where people could leave anonymous messages or confessions to you... which people hardly did anyways. 

Ultimately, One of Us is Lying was a fun read that I absolutely cruised through. Like I said, it did leave some pretty big clues lying around as to the ultimate outcome, but I still enjoyed reading it regardless.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

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