One of Us Is Next: The Sequel to One of Us Is Lying

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
One of Us Is Next: The Sequel to One of Us Is Lying Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Truth or Dare turns deadly in fun but formulaic mystery.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A few characters use some Spanish phrases. Characters cook and eat South and Central American food. The work of a nonprofit in the story highlights unfair situations in the criminal justice system and how hard life can be for people who need a second chance after incarceration. Discussion of how the media portrays people accused of crimes differently based on their race and social status.

Positive Messages

Carrying grudges is destructive and usually only hurts the grudge holder. Value your friendships and talk issues through with your friends. Trust is the most important aspect of any kind of relationship. If you're having problems, no matter how serious, you don't have to go it alone. People in your life want to help you. Don't assume you know everything about people, and don't pay attention to or participate in gossip.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though some of the characters do terrible things, the book's main characters, Phoebe, Maeve, and Knox, are generally good kids. Sometimes they make bad decisions, like many teens do, but they care about their friends and family and try to help them. Many of the side characters are good people, too. Eli's work with Until Proven works to overturn wrongful convictions and helps former convicts get jobs. Positive sibling relationships are highlighted in the story: Maeve and Brownyn have a close, caring relationship. Knox's older sisters keep an eye on him and are active in his life. Phoebe worries about her sister Emma and monitors her well being, even though the two have a strained relationship.


Entire basis of the book is a disturbed person taunting kids into a damaging and ultimately deadly game of Truth or Dare. Story has a lot of bullying, especially online and verbal. High school students taunt and slut-shame a classmate. Video game violence depicted (throat slitting). Attempted rape. Mailed in death threats. Result of alcohol poisoning depicted graphically. Teen dies in a fall, but it isn't shown. Teen gets concussion and severe facial injuries from a beating, but again the attack isn't shown. Character suffers serious injuries in an explosion.


The book's storylines feature dating and sexual relationships. Teens frequently discuss and think about the desirability and hotness of other kids. Story has detailed descriptions of kissing and heavy make-out sessions. Kids joke about erections and masturbation. Characters discuss the double standard of the way sexually active boys and girls are described, meaning boys who have sex are studs, but the girls who do are sluts.


Some strong language, but not frequent, including "f--k" and variations, "s--t" and variations, "God," "damn," "a--hole," "Jesus," "whore," "slut," "crap," "ass," "hell," "d--khead," "Christ," and "motherf--ker."


Most brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including Eggo waffles, Game of Thrones, Froot Loops, Coke, Sprite, Bud Light, Whole Foods, Honda Civic, Jeep, Reddit, 4chan, Instagram, Google, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Lyft.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink at parties a few times. A character recalls doing a few shots of vodka before having sex for the first time. Teen develops serious drinking problem to cope with personal problems.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKarenKarenKarenKaren February 3, 2020
Teen, 16 years old Written byAdaPenrose July 25, 2020

I really enjoyed this book!

I was worried that after enjoying the first book so much, this book would become a bit of a letdown, especially with the new MC's. However, I was completel... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 7, 2020

The First One Was Better, But This Is Still Definitely An Awesome Read

I loved this book! I had high expectations after I read the first one, which became one of my favorite books ever!!! This exceeded my expectations, an amazing... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and thrillers

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