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On my latest murder mystery kick, I picked up “One of Us is Lying” by Karen M. McManus. This book went ninety miles an hour from start to finish, which led to me reading it all in one day. This story has many twists and turns that keep the reader guessing and wanting more.

The book focuses on four teens from completely different social groups within Bayview High School. Bronwyn Rojas; the brainiac, Cooper Clay; the athlete, Addy Prentis; the popular girl and Nate McCauley; the stoner. However, once these characters witness the death of one of their classmates, it brings them all together.

In this book, Simon Kelleher runs a gossip blog called ‘About That’ that has ruined plenty of people’s lives. When the Bayview Four witness his death in detention, it triggers a media frenzy to find out who murdered him. The main plot centers on Simon’s death and the four teens decide to take the investigation into their own hands.

It’s easy to guess “whodunnit” in a lot of murder mystery novels, and while the twist at the end of this book wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it made sense in terms of the story. McManus fleshes out her characters so well and makes the reader believe that none of these people could’ve possibly murdered their classmate. I fell in love with these characters so much that I became more invested in their relationships with each other and their growth as people than the actual mystery.

The sequel “One of Us is Next” focuses on a different set of characters, with the original Bayview Four acting as background characters, but it is just as good as the first book. Again, McManus does such a wonderful job at making these characters complex.

The third book, “One of Us is Back,” was released recently July 25 and there are two seasons of the TV show adaptation streaming on Peacock.

I’m always apprehensive when it comes to TV show adaptations of a book series. I haven’t finished this series just yet, but so far I would rate it three stars out of five. The show is pretty true to the book from what I’ve seen, with a few creative liberties that I think fit the characters, but overall it’s very “Gen Z-ified.”

I’ve noticed a recent trend in TV shows. Writers try to make any adaptation “relatable” to a Gen Z audience. In the book, Simon has a blog where he posts gossip. While it’s the same in the show, the majority of the investigation ends up going viral on TikTok, which, of course, was not in the original book. This attempt to be relatable doesn’t necessarily matter too much, but it does knock the quality of the show down a bit for me as it feels forced at times.

Overall, I definitely rate this book, and the series as a whole, five stars. I recommend it to anyone that loves murder mysteries or young adult novels. I’m excited to read the final novel and feel that it will wrap up the series well.

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