Karen McManus's One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret
Hello! I have recently been spending all my time doing nothing except reading and sped through two books in the past 3/4 days.
Perhaps you have heard of them: One of Us is Lying, and Two Can Keep a Secret. these two murder mysteries, although very American, I loved these books.
Karen McManus has only written two books so far, which disappoints me somewhat because they are so good, although she has a sequel to One of Us is Lying coming out this year.
(Hopefully) SPOILER-FREE DISCUSSIONS FOLLOW
DISCUSSION: ONE OF US IS LYING
As a debut book, I am super duper impressed. Maybe that’s because I haven’t read many mysteries (at all) but I really liked this one.
A twist on the usual murder mystery, this is set from the perspectives of four, highschool-aged murder suspects. Nate, Bronwyn (my original favourite) Cooper, and Abby (my eventual favourite) are in detention with the local gossip queen (or king??) Simon, when he mysteriously drops dead. Soon, the police are involved, and all of them have something to hide, secrets that Simon was about to reveal to the whole school on his gossip (or fact: he never got anything wrong) app, About That. Unlikely friendships, romances and alliances spring up between the four as they battle against murder accusations from the media, the police, and their schoolmates (or schoolenemies). (Quote from the front cover>) A geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess. A MURDER. Who would you believe?
Three things I liked about this book:
- The character arcs. Addy (short for Adelaide) had an amazing character arc and went from dependant prom queen to… more independent (no spoilers!)
- The sibling relationships. I find that in a lot of books I read the siblings are either at each others’ necks 24/7 or get along so well it’s unrealistic. Addy and Ashton’s relationship built as they changed and matured, and I found that really sweet and also believable. Maeve and Bronwyn were a superhero duo of smart kids, but they had a reason to be so close, and still got annoyed at each other like in real life.
- The differences between the MCs. These kids were all from different cliques in their school and the way you could see that from each of their perspectives was really interesting. I also enjoyed how the dynamics between the four changed depending on who they were.
Also! The murder! I only very briefly thought of this character as the murderer then crossed it off a crazy. Unfortunately for my career in detective work, the murderer was crazy. As can be expected.
Trigger warning: contains very dark themes including (big BIG spoiler):
suicide.Now you know who the “murderer” was.
DISCUSSION: TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET
This book had all the charm and similar writing style of the other book. Although I was not sucked into this book as fast as I was with One of Us is Lying, it got good pretty fast.
As the cover says: Two dead homecoming queens. Five years later, is the killer back?
Ellery and Ezra, twins, are sent to their grandmother’s house in the tiny town of Echo Ridge (sounding ominous already) because their mother, who they call Sadie, is sent to rehab for a drug overdose. During their stay, messages put up all over town leading up to someone disappearing. Ellery has been obsessed with true crime ever since finding out that her mother’s twin, Sarah, disappeared during their homecoming night. She works with her new friend Malcolm to find out what happened, not only to their missing classmate but also to Lacey Kilduff, who went missing in suspiciously similar circumstances five years prior. Everyone is under suspicion, but none more than Malcolm and his older brother Duncan (prime suspect for Lacey’s murder) who returned to Echo ridge close to the time when the disappearance happened.
Three things I liked about this book:
- Casual LGBTQ+ and other minority group representation. Ezra, Ellery’s brother, is out as gay to everyone right at the start, and their new friend Mia is a bisexual Korean girl (my favourite character.)
- The themes discussed. I can’t really say much because it would be a spoiler, but this book is very current.
- The depth of the characters. The characters really had emotion, in my opinion, and emotion for a reason that makes sense. Brooke and Katrin two, not main, but close to, characters were very well done.
Again, I did not guess the murderer until they were staring Ellery and Malcolm (and me) in the face with a knife (not literally.) I am happy with this because there’s this of course moment where everything makes sense for once.
Right at the very (very) end, there is this one sentence that I didn’t quite understand even though it was supposed to reveal all, and I had to google it. Below I put what it means so read this if you’ve just finished and are a bit confused:
Peter doesn’t mean that he thought Sarah gave birth to Ezra and Ellery (which is what I thought even though it made no sense), he means he meant to kill Sadie instead. It’s still a bit of a cliffhanger: why did he want to kill Sadie? but I hope this clears it up.
So there we are! Sorry for the long post, also let me know if you’ve read these books.
(The Featured Image is not mine, I just grabbed it off Google Images)