Imagine some ingenious kid setting up a high school gossip app. Imagine said kid being of unfortunately malevolent character, and taking great pleasure in posting his fellow students darkest secrets online. When this scenario is realised at Bay View High, a seemingly innocuous after-school detention sets the scene for murderous revenge and jaw-dropping revelations. One of Us is Lying has been a big hit on this summer’s Teen bestseller list. Containing romance, intrigue, and potential murder, it’s compelling reading, and also remarkably easy on the brain.
We begin with the five key characters who attend the eventful detention. Simon, our ingenious app creator, is sadly no longer with us by the end of Chapter One. His demise is witnessed by prom queen Addy, sporting hero Cooper, swot Bronwyn, and rebel Nate. If these sound like laughable teen stereotypes, it’s because they’re meant to be. The acid-tongued Simon had previously made a point of highlighting this.
The book’s set-up owes a lot to the cult classic 1980’s film, The Breakfast Club, which some parental readers may fondly recall. It too depicted a clutch of disparate teen personalities over the course of a momentous detention, and their subsequent emotional ‘journey’. Because of course there’s always a journey.
The four remaining students become prime murder suspects in Simon’s death. Each of them has reason to seek revenge on Simon and his excoriating revelations. As if being under police investigation isn’t traumatising enough, the camera crews and reporters inevitably roll into town, and the story of the ‘…hip high school murder club’ becomes national news.
One of Us is Lying is a fun and undemanding read. The students’ voyage of self-discovery leads to some satisfying character developments, in particular, prom queen Addy’s metamorphosis
…airhead homecoming princess turned badass ninja investigator
The denouement is not entirely convincing, but for the reader prepared to suspend their disbelief, it’s an ideal lazy weekend read.
One of Us is Lying is published by Penguin, 368 pages.