Book Reviews: One of us is Lying, The Lie Tree & Moranifesto

Onwards with the catching up book reviews!

One of us is Lying by Karen M. McManus* – 7.5/10

Plot: 5 teens head into detention on a Monday afternoon like any other, but only 4 of them make it out. Simon has been killed and the others immediately become suspects in his murder, but no one knows who did it or how. All that’s clear is that it wasn’t an accident as it is revealed that the following day, Simon was planning to release gossip that could change, or even ruin, each of their lives. Was it all of them? Was it just one of them? Or was it somebody else?

My thoughts: I enjoyed how current this book was without seeming like an adult trying to write about the world of kids today. You often find when there’s a storyline that delves so deep into school life like this, that it sounds like the author is trying to be cool and throwing in references to modern culture to seem cool and down with the kids, but luckily this didn’t suffer from that. The characters were fun and not too samey, but they did seem to represent all the stereotypical characters you might find in a modern high school, aside from a couple of quirks here and there.
It’s definitely a stereotypical, tropey, YA, teen-mystery, kind of story and I have to admit, there were points at which I wished the twisting and turning would calm down so that it would get to the end of the story – because I really wanted to know what had actually happened – but it was definitely a fun ride in the meantime. I saw someone likened it to shows like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, and being a big fan of both of those, I have to agree – it was a bit like a literary version of teen drama thriller, which was a little odd but fun.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – 8.5/10

Plot: Faith’s family have recently moved to the small and close-knit island of Vane as a result of a scandal involving her famed scientist father. When he’s discovered dead soon after their arrival, she knows he’s been murdered. But as girl in Victorian times, how can she get her voice and her evidence heard? And what does the strange tree she discovers among her father’s possessions have to do with everything?

My thoughts: I’ve previously read and reviewed Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge and enjoyed it, but wasn’t absolutely in love with it – it did affect me enough that when I spotted another novel by her, I requested it straight away though, and I’m glad I did. The Lie Tree was haunting and interesting, carefully mixing a story that feels like it could be real life in days gone by alongside an almost supernatural mystery. I found the atmosphere on the island eerie and unnerving, ideal for the situation Faith finds herself in – one of disbelief at the strange things that are happening around her, but still – somehow – believable.
I loved the way that the plot, which held itself so well at face value, sat alongside an interesting look into the world of women in Victorian times – Faith trying to find her place in this hostile world she’s found herself in, with dangers both real and potentially imagined – or are they?
This is definitely one I’d recommend, with all the trappings of an excellent gothic thriller and coming of age rolled into one.

Moranifesto by Caitlan Moran* – 8/10

I can’t really review this like normal as it’s very different to my usual reads! This is a collection of columns and short essays by Times journalist, Caitlan Moran, a self-described working class woman with strong opinions that she’s not afraid to share. I can’t tell you why I first picked this book, as generally solely read fiction, but I’m glad I did.
With a background quite different to my own, Caitlin Moran’s pieces managed to open my eyes to things I haven’t confronted in my life. She deals with topics ranging from growing up with a large family in a council house in the 1980s to spending time with Benedict Cumberbatch, back to rape and FGM and over to the dangers of technology and the social media of today, then delving into her own personal stories of aging and the place that women hold in the world. And all of these she covers seamlessly and effortlessly, with wit in the right places, disgust and anger in others, in just the right way to get that topic into your brain and to really get you thinking.
It wasn’t the quickest read as I did find my mind being almost assaulted with such a variety of different topics to take in, so this is a book that’s best read in snippets whenever you feel like to give you a chance to digest each one. But I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would, and I’m now convinced I need to pick up books like this one more often.


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