One of Us Is Lying presents us with a remarkably strong base for the mystery to come: four compelling, unique narrators you won’t mix up easily; a highly unusual death in Simon’s deadly allergic reaction to a peanut oil-laced cup of water; and quick pacing to keep readers in their seats as everything unfolds. Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper work well together as a team, going about their own investigations quietly since they’re all still people of interest in Simon’s death. Addy was easily the standout of our dear murder club thanks to her strong character arc and emergence from an emotionally unhealthy relationship.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
That said, One of Us Is Lying commits to using my two least favorite things in fiction: mean girls and using a character’s sexual identity as a twist. Addy’s ex-frenemy-now-just-an-enemy Vanessa handily fills the one-note mean girl role, feeling entirely unnecessary as she “punishes” Addy for daring to cheat on Jake, Addy’s boyfriend and Vanessa’s crush. Gender-based double standards toward cheating are on display as Cooper faces nowhere near the same retribution for cheating on his girlfriend Keely. He gets it worse for being gay than he does for cheating on her.
The reveal that Cooper is gay is used as a twist in an attempt to shock readers, which is something I will never recognize as a twist for any novel. No one’s romantic/sexual orientation is ever a twist, so expect me to “spoil” such things every single time out of respect to other queer readers. Besides, it’s easy to figure out from early on in the novel only for the “secret” is dragged out until its confirmation at the end of the second act. A few other plot twists are similarly easy to see through and other details irk, like the negative portrayal of mental illness and a girl being exoticized because she’s Filipina and Swedish.
One of Us Is Lying is a solid YA mystery that will surely lead readers to even stronger entries in the genre, like Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta, Antisocial by Jillian Blake, and pretty much everything Kara Thomas (also known as Kara Taylor) has written so far. With less of the more problematic elements, I’d have an even higher opinion of this book.
Seriously, no more using sexual identity as a shocker. It’s just rude when not talking about yourself and your own identity.