One of Us Is Lying - Summary

Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying Book Cover


“One of Us Is Lying” is a thrilling young adult novel written by Karen M. McManus. Set in a high school setting, the story revolves around five students who find themselves caught up in a mysterious murder investigation. With a combination of suspense, romance, and unexpected twists, McManus delivers a captivating narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. This book summary will provide an overview of the plot, delve into the main characters’ development, and explore the themes of trust, secrets, and the consequences of one’s actions.

Plot Overview

The story begins with five students serving detention together: Bronwyn, the brainy and ambitious student; Addy, the popular and beautiful girl; Nate, the troublemaker with a criminal record; Cooper, the talented athlete; and Simon, the creator of a notorious gossip app. However, their detention takes a dark turn when Simon suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances. As the police investigate his death, it becomes apparent that Simon was murdered, and the four remaining students become prime suspects.

Each of the main characters has a motive for wanting Simon dead, as he had been planning to expose their secrets on his gossip app. Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper must work together to uncover the truth and clear their names. As the investigation progresses, they discover unexpected connections and hidden secrets among themselves and their classmates.

Character Development

McManus skillfully develops the main characters throughout the novel, allowing readers to connect with their individual struggles and personal growth.

Bronwyn, initially portrayed as the perfect student, faces the challenge of maintaining her reputation while dealing with the pressure of her family’s expectations. Addy, who initially relies on her beauty and popularity, undergoes a transformation as she learns to stand up for herself and assert her independence. Nate, burdened by his troubled past, seeks redemption and a chance to prove that he is more than just a criminal. Cooper, the star athlete, grapples with the pressure to conform to societal expectations and confronts his own identity.

Themes Explored

Trust and Betrayal

Throughout the novel, the theme of trust is explored as the characters navigate their relationships with each other and the wider school community. The suspicion surrounding Simon’s death leads to a breakdown of trust among the students, forcing them to question the authenticity of their friendships and alliances. As the investigation progresses, the characters must learn to trust one another in order to uncover the truth and protect themselves.

Secrets and Consequences

The theme of secrets plays a central role in the plot of “One of Us Is Lying.” Each character harbors their own secrets, fearing the potential consequences of their exposure. As the story unfolds, the characters are forced to confront the repercussions of their actions and face the truth about themselves and those around them. This exploration of secrets highlights the power they hold and the potential damage they can inflict.


“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus is a gripping young adult novel that combines mystery, romance, and suspense. Through a well-crafted plot, the author explores themes of trust, secrets, and the consequences of one’s actions. The development of the main characters allows readers to empathize with their struggles and growth throughout the story. McManus keeps readers engaged with unexpected twists and turns, making it difficult to put the book down. Whether you are a fan of suspenseful novels or simply enjoy a captivating story, “One of Us Is Lying” is a must-read that will leave you guessing until the very end.

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