Literally Leander discussion

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
This topic is about One of Us Is Lying
22 views
Book Discussions - 2018 > Final Thoughts - September

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Leander Public Library | 155 comments Mod
Our featured book for September 2018 was One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

Our prompt questions (for those of us that struggle with discussion, like yours truly) were written for us by a staff member. Please don't freak out; these are just prompts, and you're not required to answer them. If you want to, that's great! But if you just want to let us know about any of your opinions, wandering thoughts, or persistent questions, we'd be happy to hear those, as well!

1. One of Us is Lying was inspired by “The Breakfast Club.” What are the similarities and differences you see between the book and the movie?

2. The story is told in the first-person viewpoints of four characters. Did you feel like the changes in narration were seamless or disjointed? Did you think the different characters had suitably different voices? Why do you think McManus chose this format to tell the story?

3. What are your feelings towards Simon’s app? What do you think Simon’s intentions were? Did his intentions change between the launch of his app and the time of his death?

4. What are your feelings towards social media in general? What are the pros and cons? Does one outweigh the other?

5. Do any of the characters grow over the course of the novel? Which one(s) do you think grew the most?

6. Do you identify with any of the characters or their stereotypes? How have you faced the stereotypes you’ve encountered in your life?

7. A major theme of this book is secrecy. How do you think secrets can affect people? Is there a good reason to keep secrets?

Don't be mysterious, let us know what you thought! (That was a terrible joke, we know, but we're not all that ashamed.)


message 2: by Kristen (last edited Sep 01, 2018 03:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristen | 145 comments I liked this book a lot. I read it a long while ago, early on in the year, and my memory of it is hazy at best. But I remember bits and pieces of it, so I'll do my best with the prompt questions, since I certainly don't remember enough to ask questions of my own.

1. One of Us is Lying was inspired by “The Breakfast Club.” What are the similarities and differences you see between the book and the movie?
"You're all walking teen-movie stereotypes."

I think it's very obvious to anyone who reads this that the book is heavily based on the movie. The characters very much fit into "the brain, the athlete, the princess, the criminal, and the basketcase." It might be a little iffy on the basketcase; I'm assuming that's supposed to be Simon, and I don't know if he was "nutty," or even a social outcast. He seemed to be actively setting himself apart, which I think was a bit different than the movie.

Also, the detention is of the after school type, and not on a Saturday morning, but now we're just splitting hairs.



2. The story is told in the first-person viewpoints of four characters. Did you feel like the changes in narration were seamless or disjointed? Did you think the different characters had suitably different voices? Why do you think McManus chose this format to tell the story?
I understand why McManus chose this method of narration. It gives us a little time to hear about each character; almost like a book-long tell-all, like the "group therapy" scene in the movie, only they're talking to us, the readers, and not to each other.

However, I think storytelling becomes a struggle when you have so many narrators. I felt that all of the voices were pretty similar and it was easy to forget whose perspective the chapter was in (I wrote in my review that I had to flip back and forth to see who was narrating the chapter more than once.) The real issue, though, is that I didn't particularly feel like I got to know any of the characters. The book itself isn't long, and when you have four people narrating their stories in such a short period of time, you realize that you don't really know who the characters are at all.

3. What are your feelings towards Simon’s app? What do you think Simon’s intentions were? Did his intentions change between the launch of his app and the time of his death?
Honestly, I think Simon created this app as a way to get attention. Maybe that's not what he would say was the reason behind it, but I think it's more of an unconscious reason. He was tired of people making fun of him, and so he set out to prove not only that he was smart, but that they shouldn't be making fun of him when he has plenty of dirt on them, too.

I vaguely remember one of the characters saying that as time went on, Simon became more vicious when it came to spilling secrets (please, correct me if I'm wrong.) If so, I think he might've gotten a little power-drunk. Now his tormentors were scared of him and the way he could kill their social reputations, bring up their worst fears, and destroy their future plans.

4. What are your feelings towards social media in general? What are the pros and cons? Does one outweigh the other?
Social media might be the biggest inventions of the 21st century. I know we're only a fraction of the way through that one hundred years, but it's revolutionized the way we live. Some of us talked a little bit about social media and online friendships in last month's discussion. Social media itself is such an interesting way for people to keep connected. However, it can be a hole for people to fall down into.

An online presence means more social interaction, and there are both positives (connecting with friends and family, sharing photos, staying up-to-date on the news, etc.) but there are also cons (cyberbullying, internet/social media addiction, and, if some random studies are to be believed, narcissistic behaviors.) In a way, I think social media has the ability to amplify our social interactions. We have more people than we would consider our friends than ever, and virtually we talk more than ever before; at the same time, the darkest corners are darker. Like everything else in life, social media is a balancing act, one that we truly must take seriously.

6. Do you identify with any of the characters or their stereotypes? How have you faced the stereotypes you’ve encountered in your life?
I guess if I've been stereotyped in the past (that I noticed, anyway) it was that I was "the brainy type." I liked school for the most part, liked learning, and was/still am interested in all the information that the world has to offer. Learning starts from birth and doesn't end until death, and it's so very human and fascinating.

People seemed to think that this meant that I would be willing to do their work for them. I know, right? How out of the ordinary. And honestly, sometimes it worked, especially in group projects. I wasn't about to let someone's poor work ethic drive my grade down.

But I also threatened to take other people's names off the project if they didn't assist. Brutal, right? Didn't stop me from being a control freak though.

The good news is that for those of us who liked this book, McManus is coming out with another one, Two Can Keep a Secret.




message 3: by Christine (last edited Sep 11, 2018 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christine | 130 comments Karen M. McManus recently announced that a sequel to One of Us Is Lying is in the works, set to debut in Spring 2020. I am curious about the premise of the book. Maybe it will be based on another Brat Pack film, St. Elmo's Fire?

1. One of Us is Lying was inspired by “The Breakfast Club.” What are the similarities and differences you see between the book and the movie?
I have only seen The Breakfast Club once ten years ago. But I am familiar enough with the plot and characters because many television shows have Breakfast Club-themed episodes. One similarity is that in both the film and book, five characters from different high school cliques reconcile their differences and maybe even become friends after detention. One main difference between the film and book is the way the secrets are revealed. In The Breakfast Club, the characters choose to reveal their secrets, while in One of Us is Lying, they were forced to reveal their secrets because of Simon's app.

2. The story is told in the first-person viewpoints of four characters. Did you feel like the changes in narration were seamless or disjointed? Did you think the different characters had suitably different voices? Why do you think McManus chose this format to tell the story?
I understand why McManus chose this perspective. It allowed the reader to get an inside perspective of each character. However, I do not like this narrative format in general. I struggle when there are many characters, like there are in this novel. I did not think the character's voices were distinct enough and kept having to backtrack and remember which character's narrative I was reading. I think this would be a good audiobook for me to listen to because then, at least, the characters' literal voices would be distinct even if their narrative voices were not.

3. What are your feelings towards Simon’s app? What do you think Simon’s intentions were? Did his intentions change between the launch of his app and the time of his death?
Obviously I do not like Simon's app. It is mean and hurtful. It reminds me of the burn book from Mean Girls, except everything posted in Simon's app was true (except for the Cooper thing, but that was changed later). Like Kristen, I think Simon's original intention for the app was attention.
I half think Simon started About That to impress Jake. Simon found out one of Jake's football rivals was behind the anonymous sexting harassment of a bunch of junior girls and posted it on the app called After School. It got tons of attention for a couple of weeks, and so did Simon. That might've been the first time anyone at Bayview noticed him ... Simon started posting things a lot pettier and more personal than the sexting scandal. Nobody thought he was a hero anymore, but by then they were getting scared of him, and I guess for Simon that was almost as good.

Later though, I think Simon's intention for the app was revenge.
"Simon always thought he should get a lot more respect and attention than he did, you know? But he got really bitter about it this year. He started spending all his time online with a bunch of creepers, fantasizing about getting revenge on everyone who made him miserable ... He started talking about killing himself and taking people with him, but, like, creatively. He got obsessed with the idea of using the app to frame everyone he hated."

4. What are your feelings towards social media in general? What are the pros and cons? Does one outweigh the other?
Three major pros of social media are having the ability to connect with family and friends, particularly those you do not see often; having the ability to connect with people who have similar interests but are not necessarily your friends or family members; and obtaining information quickly, such as news and weather. Three major cons of social media are comparison and a skewed self-image because you only see what people want you to see about their lives; "anonymity" because people think they can say whatever they want behind their computer screen and use their supposed anonymity to hurt other people or spread false information; and less face-to-face interaction / direct communication.

I would like to be able to quit Facebook, but realistically do not feel like I can. I am on the launch team for a couple books and the sole communication is through Facebook. I used to be a part of a church group that only posted about events through Facebook. I think social media is fine, but everyone should establish boundaries.

6. Do you identify with any of the characters or their stereotypes? How have you faced the stereotypes you’ve encountered in your life?
If I had to pick one character to identity with, it will probably be Bronwyn (the brainy type) because I love to learn and took a few advanced classes in high school. But I did not feel like I identified with her, or any of the characters, that closely.

One way I am facing stereotypes is by not letting stereotypes define people. Even if someone is a brain or an athlete, this is just one aspect of their personality. I recently read a middle grade book called One True Way, in which a girl named Allie interviewed her classmates to learn more about who they were outside of school. It helped reinforce the point that, rather than simply being a member of a high school clique, everyone is multi-faceted and unique.


Cindy | 3 comments OMG! I would love for a book based on St Elmo’s Fire! That was the first rated R movie I ever snuck into a theater to see!

I loved the pr,use of the book and went back and forth on who I thought the killer was. I really didn’t think it was ANY of them, but I did think either it was the teacher, or that Simon wasn’t dead (which explained why his friends were acting weird). Or that he WAS dead but had somehow set up someone to look like they had done it, so I mean I was kind of right? I did not figure out the whole Jake part though.


Cindy | 3 comments Also, I liked the narration style because it gave us a chance to determine that NONE of them were guilty—no one’s character seemed like the murdering type. I think my favorite was Bronwyn just because nerds unite and all, but Nate earned my sympathy right away and I really, really didn’t want it to be him. (But I knew immediately it wasn’t because why would he care if his ‘secret’ got out?)

Ugh, Simon’s app! God I hated Simon and his tattletale blog. I wasn’t that sorry that he was dead. Even in his final act, he was screaming for attention.


Cindy | 3 comments Ok, seriously with my typos! Sorry. Pretend my posts make sense!


message 7: by Humminbird (new)

Humminbird (humminbird2106) | 1 comments 1. I’ve never seen the Breakfast Club.
2. I liked the viewpoint switching because it made it so there was no main character, and therefore no “main character syndrome.” Basically, authors don’t want their main character to be a villain or die (with some exceptions), so you can assume it’s not a main character. But if there is no main character, that syndrome vanishes and everyone could be a suspect. The switching was a bit hard to follow, not entirely seamless, and several times I had to check who was saying what. But I understand why McManus did that.
3. Simon’s app was a differing topic. I went rather back and forth about it. On the one hand, he’s exposing everyone and sharing their secrets, kind of a jerk thing to do. On the other, he’s sharing people’s secrets to level the playing field and help people realize that no one is without secrets. That’s still not great, but it makes more sense. However, I think he’s just doing it to get attention and prove that he knows everything (when he doesn’t) which makes people scared of him. That’s what he wants.
5. I identified with Bronwyn in every way. I’ve always been the “smart kid,” while also being the most extroverted person to ever extrovert. However, I would say that everyone is more than 1 stereotype.
6. I wasn’t sure who the killer was, but my theory was that it wasn’t any of the four, or Simon killed himself. I knew right off that it wasn’t Nate-it’s always the one you least expect. I thought it might be Addy for a bit because of that, but not for too long. I didn’t guess it was Jake, though.


message 8: by Christine (last edited Sep 11, 2018 07:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christine | 130 comments Kristen wrote: "I understand why McManus chose this method of narration. It gives us a little time to hear about each character; almost like a book-long tell-all, like the "group therapy" scene in the movie, only they're talking to us, the readers, and not to each other ... The real issue, though, is that I didn't particularly feel like I got to know any of the characters. The book itself isn't long, and when you have four people narrating their stories in such a short period of time, you realize that you don't really know who the characters are at all."

I love how you were able to relate the way the novel's structure to The Breakfast Club film. Besides the characters and the detention plot point, what other ways did you see the novel relating to the film? I agree with you that I did not really get to know the characters very well with the multiple perspective narration. I am hoping that I will get to know them better in the Sequel to One of Us Is Lying.


Kristen | 145 comments Cindy wrote: "I think my favorite was Bronwyn just because nerds unite and all, but Nate earned my sympathy right away and I really, really didn’t want it to be him. (But I knew immediately it wasn’t because why would he care if his ‘secret’ got out?)"

I totally agree with you there! I did identify with Bronwyn the most; she and I are easily the most alike. And I sort of a have a thing for damaged bad boys (doesn't pretty much everyone, though?) and so I quickly grew to like Nate. However I highly doubted that he would be the culprit, since he certainly didn't care -- his secret was the one that felt the least like a secret, and that made him very low on the list of suspects for me.

Humminbird wrote: "I liked the viewpoint switching because it made it so there was no main character, and therefore no “main character syndrome.” Basically, authors don’t want their main character to be a villain or die (with some exceptions), so you can assume it’s not a main character. But if there is no main character, that syndrome vanishes and everyone could be a suspect."

Ooh, I think that's a really good answer. You definitely have a point. It's rare for main characters to be the villain unless they're actively marketed as such (I think of "villain origin stories" like Heartless, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, or Sea Witch.) In this case, marketing the MC as the villain would make the entire story pointless. Using this method was a surefire way to get us to wonder if one of them really did commit murder to keep their secret.


Kristen | 145 comments Christine wrote: "Besides the characters and the detention plot point, what other ways did you see the novel relating to the film?"

Honestly, I read this a while ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. I think the four remaining characters as a whole were very much like their movie counterparts:
1) The criminal had a past with drugs, one that he wasn't all that concerned about
2) The princess was worried that no one really saw her under the veneer of perfectionism
3) The athlete felt pressure to do his best in his sport, at the cost of his own personal life
4) The brain was so caught up in making good grades and keeping up the status quo that she (or he, in the movie) felt that they must take drastic action

I think the main point of the story was extremely similar to the movie; McManus didn't really stray too far in that respect. She played it a little differently with the minute details, though:
1) While the criminal is the only one to find a possible romance out of the detention, in the book it's with the brain and in the movie it's with the princess
2) In the movie, the brain considers suicide (he was in detention for having a weapon in his locker) and in the book she does the much less threatening method of cheating on a test
3) The princess isn't the top girl in the school, she's only second-best or so, giving her the anxiety of not being as perfect as she's trying to be, while also making her concerned that the true her can't be seen (they're paradoxical, but that's kind of the point.)

though easily the biggest difference for me was the character of the "basketcase." You would assume that Simon was to take this mantle, (making him only the second gender swap out of the movie-to-book characters) but he didn't really feel very similar to the movie basketcase, who was sort of a grungy pseudo-Goth with a bad home life.

Also, no one in the movie died a tragic death, so there's that.


message 11: by Elvia (new) - rated it 1 star

Elvia Palacios (elle1221) | 16 comments I got a fourth of the way through when I officially DNF'd this book.

While I understand why the author chose multiple POV's. This narration style did nothing to hook me into caring for any one of it's characters. Each character sounded like the last one, so that I had to go back more than once to the start of the new POV to see whose it was, or continue reading a little more to pick out a clue from context (e.g. oh, sports is being mentioned so this must be the athlete).

Considering the positive reviews on Goodreads for this book and feedback from this discussion, I'm obviously in the minority for not taking a liking to this book. Oh well, on to the next book!


Kristen | 145 comments Elvia, the switching POV thing seems to be something that many of us had an issue with, so I can't say I'm surprised. I think the ending made up for a lot of it (obviously, since I gave it four stars) but it's totally a fair statement to say that you struggled with it. :)


back to top