One of Us Is Next is the sequel to the thriller One of Us Is Lying, a riveting murder mystery with fantastic plot twists. Its sequel follows up strong, picking up eighteen months after the first book ended. Alternating between three first-person voices, One of Us Is Next follows Maeve, the computer-savvy younger sister of one of the first book’s heroines; Maeve’s best friend, Knox; and outgoing Phoebe.
Bayview High’s addiction to toxic gossip hasn’t waned since Simon’s death, and it isn’t long before the school’s population is swept up in a twisted new game– Truth or Dare. As the game’s mysterious creator targets student after student, the town’s teens eagerly follow the trail of juicy secrets– but after what happened to her sister the year before, Maeve can’t help but wonder if the game’s creator has a more malicious agenda than spiteful gossip. Still, the game seems like nothing more than cruel amusement for Bayview’s students– until tragedy once again rocks the town, leaving Maeve, Knox and Phoebe to wonder if this game is about more than petty revenge.
This book is a worthy companion to its predecessor, weaving a maze of plot twists and hidden meanings that come together at the end in another surprising reveal. Like the first book, the author does a masterful job at combining a page-turning thriller with rich characters and developing relationships that leave the reader wanting to know more. Split as the novel is between three main characters and voices, the author somehow manages to make each character as varied and interesting as the last, spending time on each’s journey and interactions. Each character has differences in the way they view others and the world as well, which is always impressive in how it makes each character’s voice that much more unique as well as interesting. The detail put into the characters and their personal journeys is one of the best aspects of the first book, and I was very happy to see that this concept was continued so well in the next.
This brings me to another point– the author does a wonderful job of keeping the characters from the original book consistent in One of Us Is Next. Many of the original characters return and are featured in varying amounts, and it was fantastic how smoothly they were included in this book’s narrative. Their ticket into the plot is due in large part to Maeve, whose close relationship with her sister, Bronwyn, has resulted in friendships with the rest of the “Bayview Four” (the main characters from One of Us Is Lying). There are numerous other ways the previous book’s characters are tied into the latest book’s, and it’s one more aspect that makes the transition between the plotlines flow well. Besides that, the characters readers already know and their relationships with each other have been maintained with smooth consistency, and the way they appear and interact in this book makes a lot of sense based on what the first book established. Nothing about their presence seems forced, which makes for an impressively seamless transition from original book to sequel.
With a thrilling plot and memorable characters, One of Us Is Next is another incredible mystery by Karen M. McManus. It’s an awesome book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for their next read.