After reading A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder recently, it was quite enjoyable to slip into the easy comfort of another young adult Who Done It. There’s comfort to be found in the young adult style; nothing is too overwhelming, things aren’t quite as intense as ‘adult’ books. That’s not to say they are dull or dialed back – and One Of Us Is Lying proves that very well.
Five teenagers enter a room for detention. Only four of them come out. The dead student had damaging gossip on all of them, and also a large amount of the school. So, who did it?
The novel was told from four perspectives, each of the suspected students. Normally this story telling technique makes me a bit frustrated, but with four teenagers under the microscope there would have been no other way to do it, and to be fair, in this instance it worked well. Reading along between the four angles and wondering who is lying to you, and about what, was a great way to set the tension and to keep a reader engaged; constantly double guessing what is being provided to you is a natural “can’t put the book down” feeling.
It was a comforting, easy read, with enough tension that you wanted the book in your hands at all times, but not the pressure that sometimes comes with adult murder mysteries. I read the book in just under a day, with my nose in it almost constantly. A friend has also kindly gifted me the next two by Karen M McManus, so once I have my April reading a bit more under control, I can come back to those.
The characters this book brings together are varied and a curious mix, which is why it works so well. Even though they are very much resembling the stereotypes from secondary or high school, it’s a good balance. You find yourself rooting for the underdog, heartbroken for the princess, thinking like the ‘geek’, and cheering along the ‘jock’. The author manages to rewire your natural inclinations, keep you on your toes, and really reminds you, most importantly, that each of these people are human beings, with their own baggage and stories to tell. This is a key factor that is often missing in books written for any age group, and it was good to see it in action here.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the realistic take on teenagers. Between the language used and the constant thoughts of sex drifting though it, it was quite a relief to know that my teenage years weren’t that unusual. Sometimes in an attempt to keep books clean for younger readers – which I do understand entirely – there is an almost denial of the natural science of how teenage brains work. In fantasy or science fiction this works differently, but in a reality arena, this balance is one that needs to be carefully handled, and One Of Us Is Lying manages that really well. With only a few instances of ‘bad’ swearing and no real sex scenes (just mentions), it is a great one for me to put on a pile for my son in a few years time. Having a ten year old, I’m finding, is a great perspective for me when it comes to reading YA.
I’m looking forward to the sequals already, and that’s the sign of a good book.