“One Of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus

Five kids go to detention. One is murdered. Who killed him?

The premise of this book is simple and catchy. It works so well.

I loved so much about it from the standard school setting to the detailed characterisation. The four murder suspects are a jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and the school drug dealer. However, their background stories are intriguing enough to keep them from being too stereotypical.

At some point in the novel, you will be convinced that you know who is the murderer. For sure. And then out of nowhere, another hint will point you in a different direction and you’ll go “meh, maybe it wasn’t them,” and you’ll have to keep reading to find out the truth. Make sure you have time, because you’ll stay up all night with this book! Consider yourself warned.

Each character has flaws, but they also have positive traits as well. Sometimes I’d think, “Heh, I can see why this person would want to kill that kid.” And then I’d think, “God, I hope they didn’t. They have so much to lose if they did.” This constant flip-flopping feeling the whole way through is what makes McManus brilliant.

In terms of themes, this novel is extremely relevant. The kid murdered was a cyberbully with an inflammatory blog. Although everything he posted about his peers was technically true, it makes him the most unlikable character of the bunch.

In addition to cyberbullying, “One Of Us Is Lying” addresses academic cheating, high pressure to succeed, drugs, parental approval and disapproval, mental illness, and being true to your identity. This book involves so many topical issues that the high school environment feels dangerous, challenging, and real. The characters make tough decisions, sometimes the wrong ones. Sometimes there is no right decision to make.

“One Of Us is Lying” speaks directly to its teen audience. It’s cyberbullying gone too far. It’s bad decisions made for good reasons. It’s an awesome read.

 

“Dream On” by Kerstin Gier (The Silver Triology)

I greatly enjoyed German author Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red Trilogy, and since her most newly translated series has hit the shelves, I’ve been reading them avidly. Fans of Ruby Red, the Silver Trilogy doesn’t disappoint!

What if you could travel the dream world while asleep and enter other people’s dreams? The Silver Trilogy takes lucid dreaming to a whole new level.

“Dream On,” the second book in the Silvery Trilogy carries out the whimsical themes of the dream world and the absurd humour that is so typical of Gier to perfection. Even though I enjoy my books dark like my soul, Gier’s writing has a lightheartedness to it that I truly appreciate.

Liv and her sister Mia make a hilarious duo as they adapt to living with their mother’s new boyfriend and his two teenage kids. Add a crazy extended family tea party to the mix and you have a very believable family dynamic which definitely made me laugh.

The nasty school gossip blogger, Secrecy, also makes a nice commentary on cyberbullying. The interlude of blog posts in between chapters is a funny and sarcastic summary and I’m still trying to guess which character is the blogger’s identity!

Also, Liv’s boyfriend Henry is equal parts cute and mysterious. The second book definitely leaves you wondering why he is so private about his home life and why he won’t reveal what he’s up to. I guess we’ll have to read the third book to find out.

My one complaint, and this is typical of second books in series, is that the threats in the dream world did not seem overly threatening. With Anabel behind bars, the new villain isn’t quite as harrowing, but still towards the end it did turn into quite the page turner. Also, I was left with a lot of questions, but as I’m sure the third book will reveal all, I guess I have to wait to discover the answers!