Before I get started with this review, I’d just like to introduce my new, slightly more structured reviewing system. My ratings of books have always been pretty arbitrary, so I’m going to start using a set system for ratings.
Zero stars = Couldn’t finish it
One star = Really bad, I’d warn you against reading it
Two stars = Mediocre, or a good book with problematic aspects
Three stars = Meh, pretty forgettable
Four stars = Good, would recommend to a friend
Five stars = YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW ASDFGHJKL
So. Now that that’s sorted out… on to the review!
We Were Liars was… good, overall. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t amazing. But you should definitely still read it.
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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
First off, let me say this right off the bat- We Were Liars has a lot of purple prose, and it gets genuinely confusing at points. There’s one part in the beginning of the book where Cadence (the main character) is describing how her father left her and her mother. She says that he “shot her in the chest” and “her heart rolled out onto the ground” and it took me about two or three pages to figure out that she was using the phrases metaphorically. And the worst part is, that happens multiple times throughout the book.
Figurative language and florid writing is beautiful. I get it. And I envy the writers who can write in that way- my personal style is far more bare bones. But when it gets to the point where the reader is so confused that they can’t tell what’s literal and what’s figurative? Please stop.
Also, there were moments when the
broken up like this
sort of like it was free verse poetry
but it wasn’t
and it was really weird and distracting and I didn’t like it.
I’d kind of like to read some of E Lockhart’s other writing now, so I have some basis for comparison. I’ve heard that her other books are better, so maybe I’ll give them a shot.
I didn’t like Cadence, either. I didn’t really like most of the characters, to be honest. They were boring. Gat was the one exception. Gat was one of the one things that made the book worth it.
A book from Gat’s point of view? Yes please.
The Liars were, aside from Gat, not interesting. I didn’t care about them. Their conversations went on forever, and it was just about as pretentious as The Fault in Our Stars.
But possibly my biggest problem was the book was that there was no resolution to the racism, even though it was a pretty big topic throughout the book. Gat is the Indian American nephew of Cadence’s aunt’s boyfriend, and the honorary member of a huge, traditional, and very white family. He raises points about racism in the family very frequently. The Liars tell him to shut up. The TWIST happens and then it’s completely forgotten.
It was frustrating how the book raised these points about how racist Cadence’s family was, and then did nothing to resolve it, or even tie up the threads.
But even after all of these extremely negative points… the TWIST, I think, made it all worth it. It basically took what little understanding I had of the book at flipped it all around. It was rather genius. The story had been building up to it through the entire book and dropping hints, but I still didn’t realize until right as it was revealed.
So… I dunno. I feel like We Were Liars was a really, really good book that was trying way to hard to be something it wasn’t. If it weren’t for the horrid amounts of purple prose, I might have been able to bring myself to like the book more than I did.
Four stars overall, but one of those stars is solely for the TWIST.
Recommended for fans of John Green and/or unreliable narrators