Book Reviews / YA Cafe Podcast

Oo, Scandalous: Three YA Thrillers

Three YA Thrillers podcast cover


Welcome to the YA Cafe, where you’ll find conversations and reviews about Young Adult books for teachers, readers, and caffeine addicts everywhere. Today, we tackle three YA Thrillers: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, and People Like Us by Dana Mele.


Three YA Thrillers podcast cover


In today’s episode…


Today’s episode is a three-for-one special as we talked about Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, and People Like Us by Dana Mele. As always, our first segment will be spoiler-free, and so you can stick around even if you haven’t checked out these books yet.


We chose these three books because we felt they shared a lot of DNA. All three begin with a murder, and our teen protagonists have to extricate themselves from murder allegations. Each features a core group of teens in the tradition of I Know What You Did Last Summer or Pretty Little Liars. There’s suspense, intrigue, and of course the probability that everyone knows more than they’re saying.


Secrets, Lies, and Scandalsby Amanda K. Morgan came out in July of 2016 and features five teens who get in an altercation with their terrible professor after a session of their summer psychology course. He ends up dead, and they have to figure out how to avoid getting in trouble for murder.






One of Us Is Lyingby Karen M. McManus came out in May of 2017 and follows four teens who were in detention with a fifth student who ended up dead. It’s revealed that he was murdered, and all four of them are the prime suspects in the investigation.







And lastly, the new release is Dana Mele’s People Like Us. After the back to school dance, a group of six friends stumble upon a dead student in the lake. We stick with one narrator, Kay, as she tries to unravel what happened and remove herself as a suspect for murder.






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Episode highlights…



*2:30 – How characters keep secrets. Is it always effective?

*6:00 – The movies and TV shows these books have been compared to. Are these comparisons valid?

*9:26 – Queer representation in these books. Which ones work?



*12:32 – The “Who Dun It?”

*15:24 – We wish the ending of One of Us is Lying had been different…

*17:50 – The role of media in these novels.


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More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…


One of the things we talk about in this episode is Unreliable Narrators. Even though these three books don’t really have any examples of those, we both state that we wished there had been one. Here’s a blog post about discussing Unreliable Narrators in the classroom. YA Thrillers often use this technique, so it’s a good one for students to be aware of.


If you want to teach your students how to read creatively and imagine the different ways an author could have written a scene or a character, check out these Creative Reading Task Cards.

Sponsored by Nouvelle ELA Teaching Resources. Check out the Intro to Shakespeare Digital Breakout today!


Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at
            & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier
    March 7, 2019 at 8:01 am

    […] you are a fan of liars and unreliable narrators then you will want to check out Episode 3: “Ooo, Scandalous: Three YA Thrillers“, and Episode 13: “All of This Is True by Lygia Day […]

  • 2018 Recommendation Round-Up Part-2
    April 17, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    […] with writier and friend, Amanda K. Morgan. We featured her book Secrets, Lies, and Scandals on our YA thrillers compilation episode, and you might remember that she was a guest on our episode about All of This Is True by Lygia Day […]

  • […] friendship, and a wrench thrown into the works. We discussed this book and two other thrillers on ep. 3 of the YA Cafe Podcast. I LOVE this book, but I also need to disclose that I know the author. […]

  • […] 13 of our podcast, and we also featured her book Secrets, Lies, and Scandals on episode our YA Thrillers compilation […]

  • YA Cafe Podcast: All of This is True
    April 17, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    […] The biggest thing we discuss in this episode is dissecting suspense and analyzing unreliable narrators. You can check out this blog post about Unreliable Narrators in YA Lit for more ideas about how to approach this. In terms of creating suspense, you can have your students try Mandy’s “worst-case scenario” writing exercise. Students can draw mundane situations from a hat and then try to paint their characters into a corner. We also dive into three other YA thrillers in Episode 3: Scandals! […]


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