Book vs Movie, Lists

Book vs TV Show: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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Karen McManus is one of the biggest names in YA. Her debut book, One of Us is Lying, turned into an over-night bestseller. We were so excited when we heard that Peacock was turning it into a TV show. However, we’re always nervous that the TV show won’t stay true to the book. Below, check out the biggest differences between the book and the TV show.

Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read or watched One of Us is Lying.

1. The Appearance of Some Characters

As expected when a book is adapted, not all the characters will look how they were described by the author. When it comes to the two female leads, Bronwyn Rojas and Addy Prentiss, they looked exactly like we imagined. The casting was completely spot on.

For Nate Macualey and Cooper Clay, the actors look different than the characters were described. However, we actually really liked the actors for both roles. Despite the different appearances, we felt both did an excellent job making Nate and Cooper come to life.

However, we did disagree with one casting choice: Maeve Rojas, who is Bronwyn’s little sister. Honestly, we felt that she looked and acted nothing like how Maeve is described. We’ll go further into her character later on.

2. Detention

The plot of the book is that five students enter detention and only four make it out alive. There’s the brain: Bronwyn, the jock: Cooper, the beauty: Addy, the criminal: Nate and the outcast: Simon. Simon, the creator of the school’s gossip app About That, ingests peanut oil and nobody can figure out how.

Both the book and TV show start out with the detention scene. However, there were a few significant changes. First of all, in the book Nate, Bronwyn, Addy and Cooper are all detention for the same reason: their phones. All four had random flip phones in their bags and had no idea how it happened. In the show, they all were in detention for different obscure reasons.

Next, Mrs. Avery in the show is Mr. Avery in the books and he doesn’t have that big of a role in the story. He does run out of the classroom when he sees two cars get into a fender-bender. In the show, Mrs. Avery leaves the classroom when she spots students in Halloween masks streaking.

Now, detention does have the same outcome for Simon in both….which leads to all eyes on the Bayview Four!

3. Maeve Rojas

We mentioned that our least favorite casting choice was Maeve and that’s because the show missed the mark on the character. She’s portrayed as goth and reveals that she was friends with Janae and Simon. In fact, she had a fling with Simon. In the book, Maeve is girl next door and never spent time with Simon. He actually posted something pretty terrible stuff about her on About That and mocked her. It made no sense for the show writers to change Maeve so drastically.

Plus, with Maeve’s different personality in the show, she and Bronwyn weren’t as close as in the books. We missed the sisterhood dynamic.

4. Less Characters in the TV Show

One aspect of the show we noticed immediately was that some of the characters were missing. First, we missed Addy’s older sister Ashton. She’s Addy’s rock and confident. We loved their relationship and wished we got to see her in the show.

Another character who should’ve been there was Luis, who’s a friend of Cooper’s While he didn’t have a huge role in One of Us is Lying, he played a significant part in the sequel, One of Us is Next. If the show continues for a season 2, they need to cast him.

Finally, they ignored all the characters involved in Mikhail Powers Investigates, a legal TV show that follows the chronicles of the Bayview Four. This includes Mikhail Powers himself and lawyer Eli Kleinfelter, who represents Nate and has a crush on Ashton.

5. Cooper’s Personal Life

Cooper probably had the most changes from the book to movie. First of all, his mom was written out of the show, leaving his dad as a single parent. Also, in the show, Cooper’s dad has a heart attack, when in the books it’s his grandmother who does.

Another big change was Cooper’s relationship with Keely. In the show, Keely knows that Cooper is gay and still stays with him for appearances. In the book she has no idea about his sexuality until after they breakup.

Also, Cooper’s boyfriend Kris is a bigger part of the show than the books. He isn’t fully introduced until near the end of the book and we don’t learn more about him until the sequel. Kris was a big part of the show at the beginning.

6. Vanessa and Mrs. Avery

The TV show added a completely new plot point that wasn’t remotely in the book. Vanessa in the book was nothing more than a catty mean girl and Mrs. Avery we already mentioned was Mr. Avery in the books. In the show, Mrs. Avery and Vanessa are close because Vanessa needs an abortion and Mrs. Avery takes her. While it did give Vanessa more depth, we will say it didn’t do much for the overall plot.

7. Addy Told Jake

One of the biggest bombshells to drop through the story is that Addy cheated on her boyfriend Jake Riordan with his best friend TJ Forrester. In the show, the secret dropped on About That. However, in the book, Addy decides to tell Jake herself. Either way, Jake treated Addy like shit for the entire relationship.

8. Bronwyn and Addy’s Friendship

While watching the show, we missed Addy and Bronwyn’s close friendship. They do talk some, but it isn’t the same. After Jake makes Addy a social pariah in the book, Addy starts to sit with Bronwyn and her friends. They don’t doubt each other or keep secrets. The show pit them apart too much

9. Simon’s Creepy Online Presence

Simon is much creepier in the book that in the TV show. Maeve and Bronwyn discover Simon’s user name for online chat forums, where he praises violence and dreams about hurting himself in a dramatic way. These chats help the Bayview Four lead up to what really happened that day in detention. The show kept Simon’s user name, but it’s for his XBox instead of the creepy forums.

10. The Ending

Warning: the ending of the show and book will be revealed.

The show had to up the drama, we get that. In the show, Jake and Addy reconcile just as Jake is throwing a Halloween. Bronwyn, Nate and Cooper think Jake is hiding something, so they attend the party to investigate. There they find out that Simon and Jake worked together to plan what happened in detention and made sure the four would be there. Only, Simon was never supposed to die. Jake made sure that Simon wouldn’t have access to EpiPens. When Addy finds out what happened, she takes the evidence and runs away, with Jake following her. It ends with Jake getting killed in the woods after admitting guilt.

The book had some similarities to the show. Jake and Simon were behind everything, except it was Simon’s idea and he really did plan to kill himself and Jake hoped Addy Prentiss would take the blame. See, he already knew that she cheated on him. However, Addy finds out and collects evidence on her own, leading to Jake chasing her down and hospitalizing her. Jake gets arrested for the crime and the Bayview Four are allowed to walk free. Nothing bad happens to them after, allowing them to live normal lives. The next drama doesn’t come until One of Us is Next when a game of truth or dare involves Maeve and her friends.

Overall Opinion

While there were some issues with the TV show, overall we actually enjoyed it. We know we pointed out a lot of changes. However, most YA adaptions have significantly more. We thought the casting was strong, the writing was solid and the plot moved quickly. They upped the drama in some portions, but it fit for the most part. If One of Us is Lying gets a season 2, we plan to watch!

If you’ve watched the show or read the book, let us know your thoughts!


20 thoughts on “Book vs TV Show: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus”

  1. Since my overactive imagination really can’t handle thrillers, I haven’t read this book or watched the show. However, I did enjoy reading about your watching experience! It definitely sounds like the show had a lot of similarities but also a lot of changes – as most adaptations do. But it was cool to read your perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Never heard of the book or the series, however, I’ve been devastated by some movie adaptations myself (Waiting to Exhale) so I am glad that this turned out well for you. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t read the book yet, but the trailer for this show did look pretty good. I struggle with reading mysteries, but I may try to watch the show when I find the time. Wonderful insight! 😁


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