Review: One of Us is Next | Karen M. McManus

ONE OF US IS NEXT | Karen M. McManus


Series: One of Us is Lying, #2

Hardcover: 377 pgs.

Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers

Publication Date: January 7, 2020


“Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe’s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.

One of Us is Lying was a quick but fun and thrilling mystery that had compelled me to complete the book in one sitting. Thankfully, I found the sequel, One of Us is Next, to be just as entertaining as the first.

The appeal of these Bayview mysteries lies in the drama of gossip. It’s juicy, it’s mean, it’s hard to look away from. The gossip in this sequel is now generated by a game of Truth or Dare incited by some enigmatic figure. This is not entirely a new concept (books like Nerve come to mind), but the effect remains just the same: The truth is always hideous and a dare will almost certainly result in something harmful. It’s a dangerous balance that is too interesting to ignore and provides a perfect opportunity to sow discord and spread gossip.

McManus does a great job in creating this toxic environment at Bayview High. Your blood boils, you feel embarrassed for the characters, you want justice for them, and you always want to see what happens next.

The mystery entwined with this new Truth or Dare game is well-constructed. Even the smallest of details contribute to the larger scheme and if you don’t pay close attention, the answer will pass you right by. There are several twists and turns by the end; a couple of these revelations become obvious once most of the pieces came together and some characters show clearly suspicious behaviors, but there was one twist by the end that came as a complete surprise.

While the mystery element of the book prevails, the characters not so much. Phoebe, Maeve, and Knox aren’t exactly the most complex individuals. Their characterizations are superficial and their relationships to one another even more so. At times, Maeve and Phoebe appeared interchangeable, as their narrations sounded very similar. It almost seemed like one girl leading two different lives and if you don’t read the chapter titles that specify the POV, then you could easily get confused. The only character that stood out the most was Knox, and that was mostly due to his humor, which the two girls lacked almost completely.

One of Us is Next sometimes dawdles along until the next exciting moment happens, but at least the things that happen (when they do happen) are engrossing. The characters aren’t memorable in the long run, but they are not unlikable or without a story. McManus briefly touches on some more serious issues such as: slut-shaming, dysfunctional relationships, the ramifications of gossip, and the personal and external effects of cancer. These themes paired with teenage drama and romance result in a good time of a mystery.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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