A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that One of Us Is Next is the sequel to One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, and it deals with many of the same topics, including harmful secrets, bullying, dating, and cliques. Eighteen months after the events of the first book, Bayview High has an anonymous online bully challenging students to a high-profile and damaging game of Truth or Dare. Dating is a big part of the plot, and characters kiss, make out, and are sexually active. There's infrequent strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." Teens drink a little socially, one character develops a drinking problem, and there's no drug use. Most of the violent incidents aren't shown, but an attempted rape is described in detail. Teens make several questionable decisions, such as following a potentially dangerous person and holding back important information from parents and school officials. The story offers an opportunity to discuss how much power teens should give to bullies and gossips. Other topics include a look at how no means no, even if a couple has been dating a while. Families also can talk about the double standards applied to sexually active teens, where girls are reduced to being labeled sluts if they have sex or teases if they don’t, while boys who have sex are studs but those who don't are losers.
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What's the story?
In ONE OF US IS NEXT, a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare plays out against a backdrop of high school drama and gossip. Life was finally returning to normal at Bayview High a year and a half after a student's death implicated four classmates and turned many lives upside down. Now, an anonymous bully is taunting the student body by text, threatening to reveal dark secrets unless they choose to do a risky dare. A few students have destructive truths revealed, leading their classmates to decide that taking the dare is a better bet, until the dares turn deadly. Everyone is a suspect, and no one knows who they can really trust. Friendships, family bonds, and romantic relationships will be challenged and possibly destroyed before the game is done.
Is it any good?
This fun, soapy sequel follows the same formula as its predecessor but delivers fewer thrills. Much of the enjoyment in One of Us Is Next comes from guessing who will be the game's next target and who is behind the dangerous game of Truth or Dare. Author Karen M. McManus highlights the complicity of the Bayview High student body who can't look away from the game and in the process hand the anonymous bully lots of power, which also seems like a humorous wink at readers who like juicy page turners. The main characters are engaging, if a little bland, and the story's pacing drags at times. There are too many interpersonal, melodramatic story lines to do any of them justice. Readers who loved One of Us Is Lying will likely enjoy this sequel, if they aren't bothered by how similar the stories are.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the students in One of Us Is Next keep the game of Truth or Dare a secret from the school staff and from parents. Do you think someone should have told the school staff or parents about the mysterious bullying game? Or do you think it makes the stories more fun to not have adults involved?
Would you choose truth or dare if someone was threatening to tell everyone a deep secret about you?
Do you ever judge people based on the group they hang out with at school or gossip you've heard about them? Has there been a time when you got to know someone and found out he or she was different from what you first thought?
Are you completely honest with your family about important things going on in your life? Where do you think the line is between regular privacy and keeping secrets?
- Author: Karen M. McManus
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: January 7, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 7, 2020
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