One of Us is Lying: Book vs. Show

The best-selling young adult novel, One of Us is Lying, written by Karen M. McManus, has been adapted into a limited series by Peacock. It is eight parts with the first three episodes premiering October 7th, followed by three more on October 14th, with the final two episodes being released on the 21st. 


The premise of the story is that Simon runs an online blog that posts all the secrets of the students at Bayview High. Simon and four other students are sent to detention. This gives an allusion to The Breakfast Club, as each student represents different personalities and roles at school: the outcast, jock, nerd, bad boy, and beauty queen. Moments later, Simon is dead and the other four are suspects to his murder. They soon find out that Simon was about to post each of their darkest secrets, giving them a perfect motive. Who would go to the extremes to keep their secret safe?


With any change in medium, there is a possibility that some aspects of the plot and characters will have to be compromised. One of Us is Lying is no exception. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities that can be found in just the first episode, which translates to chapters one through four in the book. 


In terms of plot, the two are relatively the same aside from a few minor decisions. An example of this is the organization. In the book, chapters are broken down into each character’s unique perspective, so the point of view shifts throughout the story. However, the series takes an objective narration approach. Consequently, the show depicts a more simplified version where the book illustrates more of the characters’ separate backgrounds and family life.


For the characters, the descriptions layed out in the book eerily match the actors cast in the show. When reading, I imagined the characters to be just like the ones I watched in the show. But we can’t have it all. Some exceptions to the spot-on casting include Cooper’s southern accent not being adopted by the actor, Nate’s hair not being dark like the book described, and the teacher that gave them detention was changed from a man to a woman. 

In my opinion, the transfer from paper to screen was seamless. Although changes had to be made, they were done in a way that stayed true to the original story and characters. As a big fan of the book, I was skeptical at first but am now pleasantly surprised and excited to finish the series. One question that remains is will Peacock extend the series to cover the book’s sequel, One of Us is Next?