One of Us is Next, by Karen McManus (Review)

“Who do you want to be? The guy who goes along or the guy who stands up? This is the time to decide.”

This has been one of my most highly anticipated reads and is out in the UK tomorrow. I’m glad it was so early in the year so I can get my hands on it. I will be talking about One of Us is Next in a spoiler-free way, but One of Us is Lying will be fair game for SPOILERS so if you haven’t read the first book in this amazing duology, turn away here. I was actually lucky enough that my pre-order came in a little bit early, so I managed to read this a couple of days pre-release. It’s safe to say I’m now counting down the days until The Cousins.

This book was on my #2020tbrreading challenge list, for “a 2020 release”, and I’m also using it for the #armedwithabingo “published in 2020” bingo square!

Rating: 5 stars!

Previously:

At the end of One of Us is Lying (my review here!), we left the Bayview Four cleared of all suspicion in Simon’s suicide, despite his and Jake’s best efforts to implicate Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper and Addy. We found out that the entire thing was orchestrated by Simon, a suicide attempt with a manifesto, and that Jake had known about Addy sleeping with TJ from the start and had been working with Simon to implicate Addy for his murder, intending to get her arrested. We also saw everyone trying to find a new normal, and Bronwyn and Nate on shaky ground (writing this before OOUIN, I’m praying they worked this out).

The plot:

In the year since the Bayview Four were cleared of any involvement in Simon’s death, lots of copy-cat gossip apps have popped up to try and fill the void he left. But nobody had the facts, not like he did. Not until now. But this time, it’s not an app. It’s truth or dare. Phoebe comes first, with her dark truth, then Maeve. By the time Knox is to be tagged, the dares have turned deadly. After the events last year, Maeve doesn’t trust the Bayview Police for help or protection against the new rules set up by the mysterious person resurrecting Simon’s legacy.

What did I think?

I was beyond excited for this book, and I’m glad it lived up to my personal hype. I’ve been talking about this with a friend constantly, and we were actually talking about it when my email came through telling me to collect my order. I’ve never left work so fast in my life.

Comparing this to One of Us is Lying is pretty inevitable. One of Us is Lying is a book that turned me onto a whole new genre, so to me at least it’s pretty iconic. One of Us is Next totally stands up to its predecessor. I found the beginning of the book to be a little bit slower than OOUIL, but I liked that about it. If Karen McManus had just recycled the template for OOUIL, it would have felt like a cop-out. In the beginning of this book, we get to revisit old characters while we meet our new POV cast, and I imagine most people, like me, were desperate to find out what had happened with our Bayview Four, Bronwyn, Nate, Addy and Cooper, in the year between the two books events. I loved our new POV characters just as much as I loved the Bayview Four. Maeve, as we already knew, is Bronwyn’s bad-ass, computer hacking, leukaemia surviving younger sister. Knox is her best friend, an intern at Until Proven and reluctant theatre kid. Phoebe works in Maeve’s favourite haunt, Cafe Contigo, and her mum is wedding planner to everyone’s dream Bayview wedding – Ashton and Eli.

Once the truth or dares start up, they go hard, and Phoebe and Maeve’s truths pretty much ensure that everyone will want to choose dare. From then on, the book starts to pick up the pace, and by the time Unknown claimed their first casualty, I was racing to the finish. I actually ended up throwing the brakes on during some of the final twists, putting the book down to chase my best friend’s dog around because I was starting to guess what was going on and honestly? I didn’t want the book to be over yet. If anything, the mystery aspect of One of Us is Next felt even stronger to me than One of Us is Lying, because I spent a lot of the book really, really uncertain on who was involved, and I love that. I recently read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (review for that will be up in a few days) and had the same experience. I love it when a mystery book can pull off a rug pull that makes me go “well shit” because the evidence was there the whole damn time.

I really love the way that Karen McManus writes her characters and the relationships between them, and I love the diversity in the types of relationships they have. Being a teenager is super messy, and in One of Us is Next we have endgame relationships, on-and-off relationships, disastrous ending relationships and better-off-friends relationships. That last one? That’s one I really love to see, because I think if more of the teenagers I went to school with had better examples of better-off-friends relationships then half the dramatic break ups could have been avoided. There’s also a scene where a character acknowledges another character’s heightened emotional state as a reason not to be intimate, and I love that too. Maybe I’m over-sensitive to some things but I’m tired of seeing characters getting together when one is in extreme emotional distress and acting like there isn’t a power imbalance there.

The end of this book had me flipping back and forwards to reread passages because honestly? It blew me away. And I called something very early in the book that I then convinced myself was wrong, so somehow the ending still hit me hard. Even though I called it. Karen McManus is one of the authors on my very short always-buy list, and she’s earned her place there yet again. I can’t wait for The Cousins in December (I think) and I’ll probably reread Two Can Keep A Secret again before I get there.

Links:

Add it on Goodreads here!

Buy at Waterstones or Amazon (not affiliated) and if you can, please support your local indie booksellers!

2 thoughts on “One of Us is Next, by Karen McManus (Review)

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