Karen McManus was the breakout author of 2017.
I devoured her first book, One of Us is Lying, and I shared Two Can Keep a Secret with you on the blog in 2019.
The sequel to One of Us is Lying was much anticipated by my students and me, so I pre-ordered One of Us is Next and devoured this one just as quickly as the first.
Even though the first book’s main characters are not front and center in this sequel, they do make appearances. At first, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t hear as much from Cooper, Bronwyn, Nate, and Addy. This gang was the perfect batch of mismatched high school stereotypes turned on their heads. It’s fun to see how these kids from different cliques come together to take on bullying in their school.
But, happily, I had just as much fun reading about Maeve (Bronwyn’s little sister who appears in the first book), her best friend, Knox, and Pheobe.
In One of Us is Lying, a scandalous gossip app has deadly consequences. In One of Us is Next, an imitation app emerges, but this time, it’s even scarier: it operates on the game of “Truth or Dare.”
“After what happened with Simon, it’s baked into our collective DNA to be morbidly fascinated with this stuff.”McManus 39
“What fresh hell are these monsters up to now?”McManus 157
If a target doesn’t comply with dares, the app leaks gossip about Bay View High students.
“Here’s a little advice for the next time we play:
Always take the Dare.”McManus 44
Bronwyn, Knox, and Pheobe are all early targets, thankfully before the app’s “game” turns just as lethal as its predecessor.
“Bayview High is ruthless. One incident is all it takes to define you for the rest of your life, and I just found mine.”McManus 151
In solidarity with each other and the aftermath of their leaked secrets, Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox set out to discover who’s behind the app to prevent any more leaked secrets, destroyed reputations, and deaths of their classmates.
“‘Whoever’s behind Truth or Dare is on a massive power trip. And the thing is, we’re giving them that power. By caring. Reacting. Spending all our time worrying about who’s next and what’s true. We’re feeding the beast and I, for one, am done. I blocked Unknown last night, and I think you should too. Back away from the revenge forum. Stop handing those anonymous weirdos the attention they want so much. If everyone ignored them, they’d stop.’
‘But everyone won’t ignore them,’ I protest. ‘This is Bayview High we’re talking about. The gossip capital of North America.’
‘Well, we have to start somewhere don’t we? I’m officially opting out of this mess.’”McManus 155-6
“‘Is there a word for stalking your friend’s stalker?’”McManus 301
McManus is a genius at blending humor, young adult reality, and the consequences of technology. It’s impossible to close either Bay View High book and not think about how some of the trends adolescents fund themselves swept up can are truly dangerous (i.e., cinnamon challenge, eating Tide Pods, slam accounts).
“‘They’re cowards, really. Hiding behind a screen to threaten and intimidate instead of doing something meaningful to improve their situation.'”McManus 113
“‘But you can’t change the past, you know? All you can do is try harder next time. So don’t give up on yourself just yet.'”McManus 164
“People like to think they’re open-minded, but if you toss a tired gender stereotype in their path they’ll run with it every time. I don’t understand why the world insists on stuffing kids into boxes we never asked for, and then gets mad when we won’t stay there.”McManus 174
“Good thing life is long and high school is short, although it doesn’t feel like it at the time.”McManus 245
She’s also a gifted suspense and thriller writer. Fans of this genre (myself included) have a certain expectation for how intensely the hair will stand at the back of their necks when they pick up a thriller.
McManus doesn’t disappoint in her sequel. You never know with sequels, especially when the first novel is such a smash hit.
But, I promise, One of Us is Next is not that kind of sequel. It holds up.
I feel compelled to mention that McManus’s books are forever flying off of my classroom library shelves and those in our school library.
Are you a teacher looking for new books for your shelves? Start with the Bay view high series.
Are you a young adult in a reading rut? McManus’s fiction will get you out of it.
Are you a parent hoping to encourage your reluctant readers? Buy them One of Us is Lying, and you won’t even be able to get them to put down the book to come to the dinner table.
It’s vital that young adult novels are as engaging as the ones McManus produces. They should feature stories our children can relate to, and that makes them want to keep reading. Young adult is still a time when students might choose to be lifelong readers or not.
Let’s give them books they love.
“People are easy to figure out. If you’ve ever played Truth or Dare, you know most people will take the Dare. Because they want to seem . . . daring, I guess. Plus, nobody wants to deal with the truth.”McManus 363
Trigger Warnings: bullying (cyberbullying, online abuse, doxxing); death; hospitalization; loss of a loved one (parent); manipulation; misogyny; sex (slut shaming); sexual harassment; terminal illness (cancer); toxic relationships; violence (bomb)