Spooky season is officially upon us, which means everyone needs a new Young Adult thriller novel to read.
The Peacock TV series One of Us Is Lying recently premiered, but it was actually a book first. Written by Karen M. McManus, the novel follows four high school students — Addy, Cooper, Nate and Bronwyn — who end up watching their classmate Simon die in detention after he appears to suffer an allergic reaction. Throughout the novel, readers realize that all four teens, who have become suspects, are hiding some pretty major secrets.
“I’d say it’s faithful to an extent. It is certainly recognizable as being based on its source material, and there are some iconic scenes from the book that have made it on screen, which has been really fun for me personally to watch,” the author told HollywoodLife in October 2021, following the show’s premiere. “But it does take the characters and the plot in some new directions as well.”
Before the show was born, Karen explained that the idea for the book — which was officially released in May 2017 — was inspired by her fascination of social media. Throughout the book, it’s revealed that, before his death, Simon ran a gossip blog about Bayview High School.
“I find social media fascinating. … It makes privacy seem almost quaint, but because it provides a mechanism for curating your life — showing the parts that you want people to see, while hiding the aspects that are less camera-friendly,” Karen explained to Book Club Babble in 2018. “But that only works when you control the narrative. If there’s a Simon in the background spilling secrets you’d rather keep quiet, or if a negative story goes viral, it’s very hard to take that back.”
She also took inspiration from the iconic 1980s movie The Breakfast Club, in which five students are also trapped in detention together.
“One of my favorite things about that movie is the bonding that takes place as the characters realize they’re not as different as they thought,” the writer explained in the same interview. “The world constructs so many artificial barriers between people based on surface impressions and narrow definitions: who’s popular, who’s successful, who’s a troublemaker, who’s forgettable. But that public face is never the sum total of any individual. So, I hope my teen readers think twice about people in their lives they might have dismissed, and look for ways to find common ground.”
The book also has a sequel — One of Us Is Next — but, of course, these two aren’t the only thrillers perfect for spooky season. Scroll through our gallery for a full roundup.
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