A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Information on how police investigations work and suspects' rights. Story shows the media's influence on public opinion in high-profile crime cases. Some classical piano pieces and Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" are mentioned.
Trust your gut instincts. Don't lie. Treat people how you want to be treated. Don't listen to gossip. Get to know people firsthand before assuming you know everything about them. Own up to your mistakes. Reach out to people in need.
Positive Role Models
All the teen characters have lied and cheated, but most learn from their mistakes and are basically good people. All four main characters have people in their lives who step up and help them when they most need it.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic description of boy dying of allergic reaction. Teen boy punches a wall when arguing with his girlfriend. One girl intentionally trips another and injures her. A girl is knocked down and choked. A lot of social and online bullying, including publishing secrets, name calling, and harassing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of flirting and descriptions of attractiveness or hotness of characters. Much of the story revolves around romantic relationships. Make-out sessions described in detail. Kids hit on each other at parties. Kissing, groping, and references to having sex.
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Most of the characters swear, but infrequently, including "s--t," "a--hole," "f--k" and variations, "God," "hell," "Jesus Christ," "whore," "slut," "ass," "goddamn," "bulls--t," "bitch," "pissed," and "f-g."
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Products & Purchases
Most brands mentioned used for scene or character setting, including iPhone, iPod, Starbucks, Lysol, Red Vines, Victoria's Secret, Seagram's, Jim Beam, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, Kindle, US Weekly, People Magazine, Diet Coke, Xbox, Cartoon Network, TMZ, Abercrombie & Fitch.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Kid has a past as a drug dealer. Teens drink in parking lot after school. A few parties with teens drinking, many getting drunk. Drunk girls hit on boys at parties. One kid has parents who abuse drugs and alcohol. One mom shown drinking wine frequently. Kids in background at a party smoking pot. A girl offers a boy what appears to be acid.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Karen M. McManus' One of Us Is Lying is a murder mystery set in a high school. Four teens are suspects in the death of a classmate. They were in detention with the boy when he died, but no one saw anyone do anything to him. The mystery has many twists and turns, plus romance, social drama, and bullying of all types (verbal, physical, and online). Teen make-out sessions are described in detail. Kids drink and get offered drugs at parties, spread rumors, and gossip about one another, and occasionally swear, including "s--t," f--k," and "a--hole." Much of the plot involves kids keeping big secrets from friends and family, which provides good discussion topics. The online bullying in the book raises lots of ethical questions and will give readers much to discuss.
Is It Any Good?
This fun, engrossing murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the end. If The Breakfast Club and Gossip Girl had a baby who was raised by Agatha Christie, the result would be One of Us Is Lying. Author Karen M. McManus starts with character clichés -- the smart overachiever, the pretty and popular airhead, the good ol' boy jock, and the handsome but possibly dangerous drug dealer -- but moves past that to show most people are more than what they seem, for good and for bad. Overall, the book is a page-turner of a whodunnit.
The story is told in alternating first person by the four main characters. This approach allows the reader to see how each character views the others and gives insight into what the character is hiding. The downside is that the character voices are too similar early on in the book, making switching between them confusing at times. Even though most of the book is fun, fast reading, the action bogs down in the middle and the romance storylines get tedious. The character arcs are very good, and the story picks up after the halfway point, with lots of great twists and turns.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.