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Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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 finished this a few days ago and had to give myself time to wrap my mind around it. Overall, I enjoyed the story and would recommend it, but I had some issues that prevent it from hitting 5 stars, which is where I really wanted to see it go. See, this book is marketed as a psychological thriller, but by the end I felt like it was trying to be something different-- a contemporary/literary with the theme of friendship and family that wanted you to have all the feels. I'm just not sure these two genres mesh together very well. Throughout the book there's the mystery of what happened to Cadence, what has she forgotten, and how the Liars are involved. I was constantly guessing which one of them has wronged her. I can't really say more without giving the ending away, but I think that by creating characters with this silent "whodunit" hanging over their heads, it became difficult to get emotionally attached to them. And by the end, (and wow! it was a great ending) I really wanted to be emotionally attached. Only, I wasn't.

The other issue I had was the pacing. For three quarters of the book, things moved soooo slowly. Very little seems to happen, the main character never seems to be in any danger (isn't that typically necessary for a thriller?) and the "clues" that the author gave were far too subtle to make any guesses as to what was going on. Everything seemed so random, and I had no idea what had happened to her (I usually like to make guesses with mysteries/thrillers; that's the fun of it). Then, suddenly, the pacing changed. Cadence remembers something, and then some more somethings, and then before I knew what was happening, I'm being TOLD everything that she had forgotten. And it's pretty devastating, but... there was no suspense, no driving force that was making her remember, no "wow" event that triggered the remembering. The book had shifted from being a thriller to being a contemporary, and I felt somehow...cheated? 

Like I said, overall I enjoyed the story. E. Lockhart's smooth prose is easy to sink into. The scenery makes you feel like you've been transported. And the characters were memorable, just not very emotional. Then, there's the ending; I'll probably still be thinking about it in a few months. Just wish that the thriller aspect had melded a bit better with the contemporary aspects of the story. Or maybe I wish that I hadn't read the blurb at all before I started it. Sometimes marketing can backfire, I guess, and in E. Lockhart's case... sorry, I cannot lie.  She could sell this book off her name alone.  :)



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