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Season 3, Episode 8

Battle of the Book

November 4, 2021

Breea and Charity share their different opinions on the the same YA novel, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. Book recommendations for Middle Grade and YA readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:01 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host Charity.

Breea 0:05 And I'm your host Breea.

Charity 0:07 And we're with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. On each episode, you'll hear us talking about our favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining us today.

Charity 0:16 On this episode, we actually are going to talk about the same book, which doesn't happen very often. I don't think it's really happened yet.

Breea 0:24 No.

Charity 0:25 But of course, we have differing views on this book. So I'm excited to have this conversation with you, Breea.

Breea 0:31 It's interesting, because when you say different views, I think it's gonna be-- I don't know, I've talked to you a little bit about this before how I can see both sides of the equation on this particular book. I guess we could tell the title now. It's far enough in.

Charity 0:47 Yes.

Breea 0:48 It's One of Us is Lying. And who is the author?

Charity 0:52 Karen McManus.

Breea 0:53 Right. Okay. And so we've both read this title. It's been a minute since we both read it. But we've brushed up on our skills here. And when I read it on Goodreads, the first time I read it, I rated it three stars. And then I realized that after a week of having finished that book, I was still thinking about it. And I was still processing it. And then I put it at four stars. And then I put it at five stars and I've just left it there. And over time, like I went back to Goodreads to look at it again, and after having like not read it for a year and I'm like, I don't know, if I'd still keep it at five stars. It's very wishy washy for me.

Charity 1:34 Well, I feel like this is a whole other conversation station we could get into about changing your ratings.

Breea 1:39 No kidding.

Charity 1:41 That's really interesting. So yeah, so you-- so right now on Goodreads, it's five stars for you?

Breea 1:46 Yeah.

Charity 1:47 I gave it two stars.

Breea 1:48 I know you did. I saw that. I was like, oh, boy, here we go.

Charity 1:53 But I think two stars is like, it was okay. So I didn't hate it.

Breea 1:58 Oh, really.

Charity 1:59 But I didn't love it. So I give most things two or three stars. And in getting ready to talk about this book, I was looking it up. This was her debut novel. And it did get tons of good buzz. It won some awards, which is incredible for a debut novel. And I noticed that NBC has optioned it for a series.

Breea 2:19 Yep.

Charity 2:20 That's supposed to come out later this year. And the third one is coming out in 2023.

Breea 2:25 See, I haven't even read the second one yet. Because I felt like it's one of those books that I'm like, how do we keep following up on this book? I feel like it's pretty open and shut afterwards.

Charity 2:35 Right? Yeah. So the third one is going to be called One of Us is Back. What does that mean?

Breea 2:42 Oh my gosh.

Charity 2:43 So it's like ongoing, so I don't know if it'll stop there. But I thought that was all very interesting. But so let's just go ahead and get into it. So it's the story of four teenagers who go to high school together, and they all get detention and so they're all in this classroom together. Or is it five? Is it five students?

Breea 3:01 It's five, but it's four people that we focus on.

Charity 3:05 But by the end of detention, it's just four something happens to one of them. And so that's the whole premise of the book is like, what happened to that student, who did it? So it's a little bit of a whodunit. I wouldn't call it a murder mystery. Even though that is how it sets itself up.

Breea 3:22 It kind of gives me this Agatha Christie feel--

Charity 3:26 Really?

Breea 3:27 Which is definitely murder mystery. I'm thinking And Then There Were None where it's like, all these people are invited to this party.

Charity 3:34 I read that one and I loved it.

Breea 3:36 Yeah, it's fantastic. It's one of my favorite murder mysteries of all time. Which--

Charity 3:41 Wait, here's a book that we agree on! It's not middle grade or YA but we agree.

Breea 3:48 But it's so good. I love it. I love these types of stories, which I think is why One of Us is Lying really resonates well with me is because I like that idea, it almost becoming this game attached to it. Like in the detention area four of the students find cell phones in their backpacks, and I won't go deep into it, but it's part of the main, like, murder mystery of it. Like there's a big mystery that's surrounding these cell phones. I love that like, I don't know, how there's someone behind the scenes pulling the strings and you're not sure if it's like somebody in that group already that's playing like the mole in that group of suspects. And there's something so appealing about it, like I love it. I just want to eat it up. I love that kind of stuff.

Charity 4:36 I will agree with that. I do like that element in mysteries where it's like there's somebody maybe pulling the strings as soon as responsible and you don't know who that is. And they drop these little bombs along the way that reveal a little piece of the puzzle as you go along. It's like oh, who is doing that? Yeah, I did enjoy that aspect of it. Have you seen that 80s cult classic, The Breakfast Club? That movie?

Breea 5:03 Okay, I wrote in my notes, this book is a mix between The Breakfast Club, Thirteen Reasons Why, And Then There Were None. That's it and then it becomes One of Us is Lying.

Charity 5:14 Yeah, it is really a good mashup. But I will say that was one of the things that I didn't like about it. Because--

Breea 5:22 Really?

Charity 5:23 Reading it, as soon as you kind of get into it, you see who all the characters are, you've got the popular kid, you've got the jock, you've got the nerd, you've got the bad boy. And those characters themselves are very stereotypical. But then all I could think is, oh, this is--and they're in there in detention, which is, you know, for maybe teen listeners or adults who are listening to this, you know, that's The Breakfast Club, right? And so I couldn't get out of that in my head. And so to me, it seemed a little derivative.

Breea 5:51 That's so funny, because I completely agree with you on that. Like, I feel like part of this journey is definitely like meeting this cast. Because you do switch, it's different narrators each chapter and, it's amongst the four that you meet in detention that are basically part of the whodunit group. And at first, I thought this was going to be one of those books that I wouldn't be able to really finish because you're right, it's like, these characters are very tight cast characters. Like the popular one, the brain, the bad boy, and I'm like, oh, my gosh. Then over the course of the book, you realize that that was the purpose of their character was to be a type cast. Because at the end, like each chapter, you get to know them a little bit more than their cookie cutter front that they put on. And they become so interesting that I almost feel like finding out more about these characters was more of an appeal than the murder mystery itself.

Charity 6:50 I can see that and it is true, the further you get into the story, and you learn more about those characters, they do become more well rounded than just that surface impression you get in the beginning. And I'll also say I did the audio book on this. And that may be what's affecting my impression of it a little bit, because they have like four voice actors, I think so it was like a different person. And I think I don't love audio books--like if you just do a couple of characters, and you go back and forth, that's fine. But it's like literally every chapter was a different voice actor. And I just had trouble I think getting into that because it's like, okay, here's a new voice that I've got to listen to. Okay, here's the--and so, I think maybe if I'd actually read the book, that wouldn't have been an issue that wouldn't have impacted me, but format makes a difference.

Breea 7:38 Do you think if you read the book now, you would still hear the audio narration though, for the first time?

Charity 7:43 You know I don't because it's been so long. I've slept since then. And so once I get five or six books out from what I've read, I don't remember. So I think maybe I need to revisit it, actually, and see how I feel.

Breea 7:56 Well, here's the thing about murder mysteries that like I love them half to death, but it has--it takes me a while before I feel like I can read it again because I know the mystery. So I have to forget about what happens at the end. Because that's part of the appeal of murder mysteries is that you don't know who did it. You don't know what happened.

Charity 8:13 Exactly.

Breea 8:14 You're learning it. And so it's not re-readable until you really forget about what happened.

Charity 8:18 Yeah, that's true, which is why I don't re-read books, generally, because I can't forget what happens.

Breea 8:24 Yeah, I feel that. I have a question though. So we're not going to get spoilery in case like our audience out there wants to read this book. Because I highly recommend picking it up, especially if you're into like that murder mystery-esque scene. But I want to know what did you think of the mystery when it was revealed?

Charity 8:41 You know, honestly, and I was just gonna comment on that, honestly, for me, it was a little bit of a letdown. And I just can't say anything more without giving a spoiler alert. But it was like, oh. Like, if anyone has read this, they probably get like, you know, what, what is she saying? To me like it is a murder mystery. And I think for YA it's a good entry into that genre for YA. I mean, I think this is-- so I would absolutely recommend it even though I only gave it two stars. I absolutely recommend this. It's a great summer read. It's a fast read.

Breea 9:16 It's a lot of fun.

Charity 9:17 It is; it really is. I think at the end of the day, the part that, I guess, that bothered me was that I wanted more of the murder mystery. I wanted it to be more plot focused and this is very much more character focused.

Breea 9:32 That's where we differ.

Charity 9:33 I want my murder mysteries to be all about the plot and I don't care what's happening in your head and I don't care about your drama.

Breea 9:39 I love the character development in this that's part of the reason why I love watching these stereotypical characters become something more three dimensional in the end. And so--and I think that's like part of the mystery itself is like having these characters have to face the fact that they are not just who people see them at surface level. They are more than that. And so it's a really fun reveal. And it's a really fun coming to terms moment with each of these characters. That being said, I agree with, like the reveal of the who done it part. But I think my journey with the characters kind of helped make up for that. It's like, I wasn't necessarily disappointed, per se, because I think that all the pieces were put into place. Like the author did a great job of like setting it up. Like, it didn't come out of left field, but it was still like, oh, okay. But it wasn't like this mind blowing reveal.

Charity 10:38 Right.

Breea 10:39 Like, Oh, my gosh, how did I not see that coming?

Charity 10:42 Right.

Breea 10:43 It was definitely a little bit of a letdown. But I was having so much fun learning about these characters that I was like, okay, whatever--I know. And that's very uncommon for me, I don't usually let those things slide because I do--I'm like you I like my murder mysteries focused. I want them to make sense. And I want them to be like awesome of a twist that I just didn't see it coming. But honestly, you could probably see this one coming.

Charity 11:08 I mean, she does throw a lot of things in there, though. In addition to kind of the main premise of the story, which I did appreciate. There's some other little things she throws in there, little details, other little dramas, which kind of help move it along. So I would say I think give it two stars, but I would still recommend it. I think it's a good, it's a good murder mystery. For sure.

Breea 11:29 Yeah, I totally agree. Who is your favorite character?

Charity 11:32 Oh, gosh, I don't know. Probably Nate who plays the bad boy just because--

Breea 11:38 Same.

Charity 11:39 I like those kind of moody, complicated characters. To me, he was the most interesting, even though they all have parts of them of their character that was really interesting. But I just like that dark, broody kind of character a lot.

Breea 11:56 Yeah. Especially when you get to see them as more than like that mysterious angsty type. And you realize once again, that, you know, it's not, there's no like, bad person, and there's no good person. There's always gonna be that like kind of gray area for these kind of characters.

Charity 12:14 Yes. Well, and I think that's just a good kind of--similar to real life that, like, we all have this kind of mask that we wear on the surface. But we all have our struggles underneath, and you really can't judge a person by their outward persona, because there's stuff under the surface--

Breea 12:33 Right.

Charity 12:34 Going on.

Breea 12:35 And I think what I love about this book as well, is that we've talked about in past episodes, how it's like, a lot of YA fantasy is kind of very, like, they have that one heroine that's like, I'm gonna save the day, and I'm so awesome. And you know, and it's like, we look up to these heroines, and they're fantastic. But it's like, the cast here, not only is, like, diverse, and there's like, just a lot of like, different plot points that we're following with them. But it's like, they're flawed, and they're real.

Charity 13:05 Yeah.

Breea 13:06 And so we have this situation, that's kind of, I mean, hopefully unrealistic. Like I don't know, like--

Charity 13:13 Right?

Breea 13:14 Personally, I think maybe it'd be a little unrealistic, but I don't know. But we have these characters that like, once again, they come across as one person, and then we start learning about them behind the scenes and learning about their quote, unquote, secrets. And all these people like, they're not just straight up like good people, or bad people. They have their mix there. And it makes them interesting. We love a good character, that's a healthy amount of level headed yet twisted and corrupt and needs to come to terms with their past. So because we all are like that, like we all have those kinds of journeys, and to read about a character that's like, just strong, independent, going head forth into battle, and is very brave is not necessarily like something that we can all relate with. And so having characters that are like, oh, yeah, I've kind of like I've been through those kind of struggles. Because that's the great thing about having a four person cast is that you maybe you don't relate with one of them, but you're probably gonna relate with at least one of them.

Charity 14:21 Yeah, exactly. They're very relatable. And yeah, you're gonna see yourself in one and probably more of those characters, depending on the situation they're in. They all take a turn as you said, being being the good guy or the bad guy or--

Breea 14:36 AlsoI think a really a great thing about this book is the different, like, perspectives that we get to journey through because the author does such a great job at making each storyline very different from one another. And so we're never like--I don't feel like we're ever like blending like we've lost track of whose storyline we're in. Like we know exactly who we've been dropped into. We know exactly what's been happening with their lives and we don't get lost with it. She just does a really great job of differentiating between all the different characters and what their situation is.

Charity 15:08 That's a good point because there's a lot going on with all of those characters. Are you going to go on and read the other books?

Breea 15:16 Oh it's so hard because like I said before, I really feel like it wrapped up well at the end. And so I don't know what--is it the same cast?

Charity 15:25 I think so.

Breea 15:26 Like those poor kids. Can we give them a break?

Charity 15:32 They need something good to happen. I don't--

Breea 15:33 No kidding.

Charity 15:34 Maybe I'll just skip number two, and I'll go to number three when that one comes out, like who comes back, what's happening? But I love that you brought in Agatha Christie. So for listeners out there, read this one if you like mysteries, and then pick up Agatha Christie And Then There Were None.

Breea 15:53 Oh, my goodness.

Charity 15:54 That one's so good.

Breea 15:56 It's so good.

Charity 15:57 So good. Well, Breea this has been great. I loved talking about the same book and like--

Breea 16:02 Yeah.

Charity 16:03 And even though we had slightly different views we weren't like on polar opposite ends.

Breea 16:06 No, it was fine.

Charity 16:07 Let's do it again.

Breea 16:08 Okay, sounds good.

Charity 16:09 Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at the for these and other great book recommendations and follow us on Facebook for the latest news and events. This has been a production of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thanks for listening.

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