This guide helps readers learn what they need to know about One by One by Ruth Ware: the basic plot summary, a character guide to help you keep track of the numerous people in the story, and my review of the book with pros, cons (although I did love it!), and tips you need to know before diving in.
Note: This is a *NO SPOILERS* post!
One by One was an instant New York Times bestseller from author Ruth Ware, known and beloved for her mysterious thrillers. This was the first book I read of hers…and I proceeded to add ALL others to my “to be read” list.
So, yes, it’s fair to say I loved One by One, and I’m here to share more about it to help you along your own reading journey. Below is a summary, character guide (a MUST if you haven’t read it yet), and a review with some pros and cons (as well as a few quick book club ideas for this book).
One by One by Ruth Ware
One by One Plot Summary
One by One by Ruth Ware is a locked-room mystery novel in the vein of Agatha Christie‘s And Then There Were None and the board game Clue.
In One by One, a group of tech startup employees and shareholders at a trendy London music-based social media app called “Snoop” visit a rustic mountain chalet with a view of the French apps for a company retreat filled with both work and play.
Unexpected talk of a buyout causes rumblings amongst them, but this is far from Snoop’s worst problem when an avalanche occurs, leaving one employee missing (and presumed dead). Cut off from the outside world without power, panic mounts with the cold as three additional employees die “One by One” while there still remains no sign of help on the way and it’s clear this is no accident — but rather, murder.
The guilty must necessarily be amongst those remaining in this “whodunnit” thriller in which the characters’ secrets and motives are slowly revealed by two alternating narrators: the housekeeper (Erin) and the former employee and current minority shareholder (Liz).
I’ll bet this never happened at YOUR corporate retreat!
Character Guide for One by One by Ruth Ware
One by One by Ruth Ware seems to have more characters than any book I have ever read! I created the below character guide to keep track of who’s who. I think it’s absolutely essential to the reading of this particular book.
There are over a dozen characters in One by One by Ruth Ware to keep track of. Use the guide below to help you:
Topher St. Clair-Bridges: co-founder of tech startup Snoop
Inigo Ryder: Topher’s male personal assistant
Eva van den Berg: co-founder of Snoop and Topher’s ex-life partner, currently married to financier Arnaud Jankovitch, as well as the mother of Radisson
Ani Crewsswell: Eva’s female personal assistant
Rik Adeyemi: head of accounting at Snoop and longtime friend of Topher
Elliot Cross: head of tech at Snoop and longtime friend of Topher
Miranda Khan: “friends czar” at Snoop
Tiger-Blue Esposito: “head of cool” at Snoop
Carl Foster: lawyer for Snoop
Liz: former Snoop employee and a minority shareholder
Erin: housekeeper at the ski chalet
(Note: Erin also references her brother Alex and his best friend Will as part of her backstory.)
Danny: chef at the ski chalet
Kate: handles bookings for the ski chalet
Book Review for One by One by Ruth Ware
- My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
- Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
- Goodreads rating: 3.73 out of 5 stars
As I mentioned earlier, One by One was the first book I read by Ruth Ware, and it totally met my expectations. Upon finishing it, I proceeded to add ALL of her other books to my “to be read” list.
Below are a few pros and cons.
First, while there’s nothing new about the “locked room mystery,” Ware makes One by One feel fresh and different. Perhaps it’s because of the dual narration from the perspective of two “outsiders,” one a staff member and the other a former employee. I enjoyed hearing the story from exactly these two characters, who were both in on the action, yet removed from it simultaneously.
One by One was really engaging and kept me guessing what would happen next. While I know many readers were able to “guess” who the killer was and thought it was obvious, I was plotting out a far more surprising twist in my head than actually occurred (I thought one of the characters wasn’t actually dead). So, for me personally, this was a pro, while others will see it as a con.
I also thought One by One was plotted out really well (especially since there are SO many characters whose backgrounds and motives must all intersect), and the pacing never felt too fast or too slow.
And despite there being SO many characters, I still felt like I knew enough about them and their motives to keep them all really interesting to me.
Lastly, One by One would be great for book clubs that love to read crime books because you can dive into all the characters and who you predicted to be the killer, talk about your “travel gone wrong” stories, and eat some comforting treats like the tea Erin and Liz drank together in the powerless chalet.
While I did truly enjoy One by One and would definitely recommend it, there are a few things about it that I would consider to be cons.
First, while periodically the plight of having no power in a murderous avalanche is discussed, I felt the book sort of glanced over the minutia of how truly difficult (and COLD) that situation would be.
Next, each chapter begins with the current “Snoop stats” of the narrator. With so many quick chapters and so much suspense, it got in the way of the story, and I found myself skipping over it.
On a related note, the “Snoop stats” as well as the sheer volume of characters would make this a really tough audiobook to listen to, in my opinion. (Believe me, I tried and gave up!) I’m so glad I gave the physical book a second chance, and that’s how I recommend you read it too.
Lastly, for all of you fans of twisted plots, One by One isn’t one of them! As I said, it’s clearly a locked door mystery, and that means one of the main characters is at the heart of the debauchery.
That concludes my guide to One by One by Ruth Ware. I hope you found the summary and review, and especially the character guide to be helpful to your own reading life.