Monday, May 12, 2014

Mini Review: We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Published by: Delacorte Press

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart | Goodreads

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I can see why everyone is raving about this novel. I'll do my best to talk about it without spoiling any of the elements crucial to maintaining the suspense.

Okay, first off: writing. This, I can see, generating a mixed response, though I loved it for the most part. It's like a mix of the purple prose Tahereh Mafi used in the Shatter Me series and the sparse, tight prose that Kiersten White used in her thriller, Mind Games. Something has obviously happened to our main character, Cadence, and Lockhart shows this through several metaphors, short, snappy sentences, line breaks in the middle of sentences, and nouns as adjectives (e.g when Cadence is feeling extreme emotion, she often describes herself as bleeding all over the place; one character is described as ambition and strong coffee). And, of course, the unreliable narration, and how Cadence flips back and forth between present and past timelines. If you can handle that and it sounds appealing to you, you're basically set.

Despite this being a very tight piece, a book you've heard has lots of suspense, the plot takes a little while to kick in. First the setting and familial background has to be set. Then we're introduced to the main plot event and the mystery surrounding it. So, basically, what I'm saying is keep reading if you were unsure of the beginning; I found myself growing more and more invested as the story continued (rather than being immediately invested). This novel is probably most fun for people, like me, who couldn't guess the plot twist. Though, if you do guess the plot twist, you're still in for an emotional tale, especially since it parallels fairy tale fables with Cadence's current understanding of what happened to her and that adds quite neatly to the drama and heartbreak. The ending will probably generate some extreme response in you. I fall in the camp that likes it; if you've read the novel and wish to discuss, please mark the spoilers and I will discuss with you.

Probably my favorite aspect of the novel is not even the unpredictable ending or the thrilling undertone of the suspense. It's the way Lockhart has painted this rich, privileged family with a seemingly perfect life but one nonetheless shrouded in mystery and brokenness. Plus, you see the effects of several generations on this idyllic lifestyle. Lockhart touches on issues of race and class and sex among other topics that are ripe for discussion. The humor and sadness and waste in her discussion of privilege evoked portrayals from some of my favorite authors like Maggie Stiefvater.

Read this if you're a fan of books with unreliable narrators and familial drama and the whimsy of summer romances. Read this for a twist on the idyllic summer spent in rich beach houses. Read this and be prepared to read it again to appreciate its complexity. A thoughtful, arresting piece in YA, and perfect for book clubs.


  1. So the twist wasn't necessarily your favorite part of the book, but you said it's probably most fun for people who couldn't guess the twist. I, unfortunately, was spoiled on this book during my latest book club get together where a member accidentally blurted out to everyone was the twist was (I think she was under the impression since we were all bloggers we had all read it already?!). So I'm super bummed because I was quite curious about it, and now I feel like I know the twist I feel like it's pointless for me to read it. Do you think that's the case? Or is there so much other great things about this book I should still give it a go? Just curious!

    1. :/ dude no one should ever be under the impression for a pre-release book, even if you're all bloggers, that you've all read that book. Gah, I'm sorry for you! I wouldn't say that it's pointless for you to read. A lot of people have read this book more than once because they missed things the first time around; you'll probably have that sort of experience and you'll see a lot of the subtle details Lockhart has inserted to hint at the plot twist & its effects :).

  2. I liked the way that Lockhart created the mystery and how it pulled along the story. I wish there was better character development, but I think this story is more about an event than it is about a particular character.

    1. ^-- Exactly. Same thoughts. Wanted a bit more chara. development but you're right: the entire story is framed around the mystery, so it would've been hard to get the same effect with that.

      glad we both enjoyed the book though :)

  3. Just went to E Lockhart's NYC book launch for We Were Liars (TRY on back of her right hand, AGAIN on back of left). Will come back to read this review after I finish the book -- don't want to risk even a hint of a spoiler.

  4. I loved the writing , the setting and the mystery . But I just could connect with the characters . So I gave it 2.5/5 sadly . Tnx for the review Christina

  5. Nice review. You hit on lots of my thoughts exactly. The prose was gorgeous, the beginning was languid. I feel the book hit its stride midway and never let go. As for the ending...from an emotional perspective, I hated it. From a literary perspective, I loved it. Aka I loved it but it evoked a lot of strong feeling things. ;) I had huge book hangover from this one. I thought the first part of the book seemed a little estranged from the second in regards to some of the motifs (like the fables), but it came together eventually.


  6. I love unreliable narrators and the writing style sounds great to me (loved the writing in Shatter Me and Mind Games). I usually don't predict twists so I'll probably be surprised. I may wait awhile to read this book in the hopes I'll forget there is supposed to be a twist. Great review! ~Pam


Thanks for visiting my blog! Please make sure to indicate your blog name so that I can return the favor later :).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...