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One of Us Is Next by Karen M McManus - Review

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago as I didn't have it and wanted to read the sequel to Karen's first book. 

What's it about? It's a sequel to One of Us Is Lying, but not starring the same characters. They have moved on - Bronwyn is at Yale, Cooper is playing baseball at college, Nate is working for a construction company in Bayview, and Addy is preparing for her sister's wedding to lawyer Eli. Instead, we're concentrating on Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox, eighteen months after Simon's death in the first book. 

Maeve is Bronwyn's younger sister, and she has previously had leukaemia which she has survived twice. She misses Bronwyn and although she and Knox went out for a while, they're better off as friends. She has a crush on Luis, who works in the cafe she goes to a lot. (Luis is from the first book, he is Cooper's BFF). 

Knox lives with his parents - his lawyer mom and his dad, who owns the construction company Nate works for. He feels like a disappointment to his dad. He has four older sisters, all of whom's names start with K - he jokes they're like the Kardashians. He feels like a bit of a nerdy loser, and I really liked him. Bless him.

Then Phoebe, she was mentioned in the first book as the family lost their dad and had to move to a smaller apartment. She and her sister Emma are barely speaking, even though they have to share a room. She's worried about her mum, too. She works at the cafe that Maeve frequents and while they're not excactly friends, they're not enemies.

Anyway, then it seems like the spectre of Simon is raised again. Every student in school gets a message from an Unknown number, saying there'll be a new game, a game of Truth and Dare. Phoebe gets the first message, telling her to choose, but she ignores it. Then Unknown tells everyone that Phoebe slept with her sister's ex boyfriend, Derek, right after he split up with Emma.

Phoebe is of course devastated. Her relationship with Emma seems broken beyond repair. She gets bullied a bit at school. When the next message comes, chief jock Sean takes the dare, which is obviously the sensible option. Next to be targeted is Maeve, but she's got other things on her mind.

The book, like the first one, has a lot of high stakes, a lot of intrigue and mystery, and a lot of kids sorting stuff out for themselves. I, as an adult, desperately wanted them to get adults involved, but their reasons for not doing so were REALLY good, and totally in character and in keeping with the book, which I appreciated. I was totally captivated by the story and the three main characters, all of whom I really liked. 

This feels to me like a middle book of a trilogy, and I really hope I'm right, because I would love to be back in Bayview with some of the same characters. I loved it, I read the last third in a couple of hours one afternoon on my sofa because I was so desperate to see how it ended. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No. There is a little bit of mention of Cooper being an out gay baseball player, which I liked. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Maeve's dad is Colombian, and Luis family is Argentinian - there's not much around race but there's some nice bits in the cafe around food, which I liked. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No. 

Is there any sex stuff? A little, it's a bit graphic but not too bad. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes and it's a bit graphic. I thought it was really well done, actually, I got nervous alongside it. There's some description of injury too, which is a bit graphic. 

Are there swear words? Only a couple, and well used. (Once by Nate! Who I love!) 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. The only thing I found weird was the time slides sometimes. At the beginning of the book we learn that a student has died, and then we go back in time to learn who that was, and then part two goes from the death. It was fine but it confused me a couple of times. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, a hundred percent. I find the author such a good author, I would read anything by her. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I've just been meaning to, and as I didn't gel with the book I read previously I wanted something to really get my teeth into, and this was perfect. 

What do I think of the cover? It's like the others, so it fits the branding! 

What other books is it like? I think a comparison to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is an apt one. I really feel like in both books there are real high stakes. 

How many stars? Five out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'm keeping it!

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