One of Us is Next
One of Us is Next is the sequel of the bestseller One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Like its predecessor One of Us is Next also takes place at the infamous school Bayview High but it has a different set of characters with previous book characters making small appearances.
One year has passed and people at Bayview High are still struggling to get over the shock of Simon Kelleher's death. Any gossip websites or apps are banned from school though many tried to continue the legacy of Simon but couldn't really succeed. After many failed attempts another copycat app of Simon's has emerged, this time in the form of a deadly game of Truth or Dare. A message is sent to seemingly a random student, asking to choose between truth or dare. If the student fails to reply back with an answer in 24 hours a malicious secret of that student is revealed to the whole school. What first seemed like another flop copy of Simon's gossip app soon proves dangerous as the secrets revealed are very personal and threatening. For Maeve, the game hits too close to home as she is the younger sister of Bronwyn who is one of the original Bayview four and Maeve has seen Bronwyn greatly suffer because of false allegations and people's scrutiny. Maeve and two of her friends Knox and Phoebe try to stay away from this poisonous game but the three of them find themselves entangled in the game so much so that only solving the mystery of the person behind this game of truth or dare can save them before it takes a fatal turn again.
Having loved One of Us is Lying I had high hopes for its sequel One of Us is Next. Sadly, I have to say that I was disappointed. For me, the high point of the former book was that it was set in a usual High School with cliché character choices. But the author gave each character their storyline, their insecurities, their strengths which made the characters complex and real and I could connect with the characters. Whereas for One of Us is Next the magic didn't quite happen for me. I had a hard time connecting with any character other than Maeve and that too because I knew Maeve from the previous book, but even her personality felt diluted. Now coming to the plot of the book, McManus has given an everyday game a very dark turn which was interesting to read. The story keeps the reader guessing whose name will be up next and what events will unfold. Keeping the dull characters aside, the story is a complete page-turner. But what ruined the whole book for me was the "great reveal" on the last page. I don't want to talk much about it and spoil it for someone planning to read the book. After the revelation, the whole story felt silly as there was no sincere motive which is a big turn-off for any mystery novel.
After all the ranting let's talk about some good aspects of the book. To all the One of Us is Lying Fans it gives us closure as we get to know how they turned up after high school. Though we don't get to see much of the original Bayview four, it is always a pleasure when they make an appearance. In this book, Maeve starts having some symptoms of leukemia and having fought it the majority of her childhood she thinks it has come back. Being a teenager and always considering herself the slacker of her family how to deals with this problem felt real and gave her character a much-needed dimension and this was a good addition to the story. To my disappointment, I didn't enjoy the book very much though I feel the story had immense potential.
“Holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
― Karen M. McManus, One of Us Is Next