Another year. Another drama. A whole new set of rules. Bayview High is just about recovered from the death of gossip king Simon Kelleher a year ago. Now there’s a new copycat in town who isn’t ready to forget him just yet. A school wide game of Truth or Dare seems fun, right? But this game is lethal. Choosing the truth may reveal your darkest secrets, accepting the dare could be dangerous, even fatal. The teenagers of Bayview must work together once again to find the culprit, before it’s too late…
I’m a sucker for Karen McManus’ books. One of Us is Next is the sequel to her first book One of Us is Lying which took the world by storm a few years ago. One of Us is Lying follows four characters, Bronwyn, Nate, Addy and Cooper, all students at Bayview High who are investigated for the shocking death of their classmate Simon, the creator of a gossip app that spreads throughout the school. I completely devoured the first book and was totally engrossed in the story, so I was so happy to learn she was releasing a follow up.
One of Us is Next did not disappoint. Just like the first, this book is a Y/A mystery with a hint of romance – the perfect combination to have me eagerly turning each page until the end. It was different enough from the first story to be interesting, but it still tied back to the original plot, and the original characters, for it to be a good sequel; I feel like it added to the story as a whole really well. As outlined in the blurb, it introduced a copycat of Simon which unleashed more anguish on the students of Bayview High, namely through a digital game of truth and dare.
It follows some of the characters from the first book, but mostly in the background, and has a sort of ‘next generation’ cast as the main characters, including Maeve, the sister of Bronwyn, one of the Bayview Four in the first book. At the start of the book, there’s a long list of characters and I did think “oh, there’s way too many to keep track of” to start with, but as the novel progressed it was fine.
The ‘main’ characters seem to be Maeve and Knox, best friends, and Phoebe, who enters their friend group. I have to say, I wasn’t keen on Knox as a character. I found him quite irritating to be honest, but I loved Maeve and Phoebe which really made up for it. Together and individually, they’re the kind of female characters I love to see in Y/A novels; assertive, independent and intelligent. I had hoped for more inclusion of the original characters – I’m sucker for Nate and Bronwyn’s relationship – but the small features they did have were good.
As with the plot – the game of truth and dare – I liked the initial premise, especially after the revelation of the first dramatic truth, but after that I wasn’t sure. I stuck with it and it was OK, but for me, it wasn’t the most interesting part of the story. However, the investigative nature McManus’ books have was still there, and that’s what I loved. I find it hard to predict what’s going to happen which can be quite easy to do with some Y/A mysteries. It feels like you’re picking up the clues and finding out what happened as the characters do.
Something McManus does really well is including big shocks and dramatic plot twists. The end of this story was a whole rollercoaster, let me tell you! Without including any spoilers, the explanation of the truth and dare game, and who was behind it, was a shock which could have sort of been predicted just as it was building up to the big reveal, but I never saw the surprise twist right at the end coming and that really made the book for me.
Something I didn’t like so much was some of the relationships; they seemed quite samey and trope-like. In my opinion some of the characters didn’t suit each other particularly well so it seemed somewhat forced just to add that element of romance to the story – but maybe that’s because I don’t really relate to teenage relationships anymore and find some of the dialogue and actions a bit cheesy.
Overall, I think this was a brilliant sequel and well worth the read. I preferred One of Us is Lying but would 100% recommend reading the whole series. I also loved Karen McManus’ book Two Can Keep a Secret which follows a whole new story and a new set of characters – and just as thrilling of a mystery.
If you’re a lover of a Y/A mystery with teenage romances and lots of twists and turns, I really recommend Karen McManus’ work.