Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Pages: 240
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction / Mystery
Pub. Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Cadence's family is well off; in fact, her grandfather own a private island off of Cape Cod.  Her family goes there every summer and she has a blast with her cousins, Mirren, Johnny, and their friend Gat. During her fifteenth summer, everything changes though.  She is involved in an accident and suffers a major head injury which results in her experiencing crippling migraines and amnesia.  Cadence, or Cady, can't remember what happened during her fifteenth summer or the details of her accident.  Two summers later, Cady heads back to the island, but no one will seem to clue her in either. This is because Cady's mother has warned everyone that the doctors want Cady to remember the details on her own.  Cady is desperately trying to figure out what happened and slowly pieces are coming back to her.  Once Cady finds out the truth, it will shock her to the core.  E. Lockhart's We Were Liars is a suspenseful psychological thriller that at first, I didn't love, but once Cady started figuring things out, I was desperate to know what on earth happened.

Cady is a good example of old money and living a privileged life style in We Were Liars.  Everything seems fancy and beautiful from the outside, but when you peer in closely, you can see all the cracks in the foundation.  For starters, Cady is a mess both physically and mentally.  Her mother spends most of her time on the island drinking too much wine, fighting with her sisters and trying to gain her father's approval with the hopes that she'll be remembered more than her sisters in his will.  Cady's mother is a helicopter mom, directing every move Cady makes and nagging her to take her meds, eat dinner, go talk to Grandfather, etc.  So, needless to say, I felt badly for Cady and her situation (hello, hovering mother and selective amnesia).  But on the other hand, Cady kind of drove me nuts, because after a few chapters I realized, she is an unreliable narrator (Edgar Allan Poe style) and she can't be trusted one bit. The more I read, the more I questioned Cady's reality.

Lockhart does a brilliant job capturing an idyll.  You can tell that Cady loves spending time on her grandfather's private island and spending summer with her cousins and extended family. However, the beautiful setting was juxtaposed by the dynamic between the family members and the grandfather being manipulative. He was pretty much playing a metaphorical game of chess with each person on the island! Obviously, the family secrets and what happened to Cady is what kept me glued to the second half of We Were Liars. Surprisingly, this novel examines familial relationships and how some families are truly dysfunctional.

What I struggled with regarding We Were Liars was the fact that I couldn't really get to know Cady or the other characters. Lockhart's writing is brilliant, but because Cady was an unreliable narrator, I just felt like I was witnessing Cady's life and not really a part of it, if that makes sense. I didn't connect with any character or truly FEEL for Cady; I felt really disconnected and an observer in We Were Liars

There's a TON of hype for this novel and I mean John Green blurbed it, which says a lot. But I think this one has been overhyped a bit in my humble opinion. Is it good? Yes, I was entertained.  Is the writing brilliant? Yes. Are there many plot twists and unexpected events? Yes. We Were Liars is a haunting tale and one that is completely original. Did it wow the heck out of me and change my life forever? No, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. So, if you like your beach reads to be a bit darker and more psychological, then check out We Were Liars this summer.



18 comments:

  1. I ended up not finishing this book. I just didn't like it (Cadence annoyed me and I didn't like the rich people lingo) and I felt like maybe the author was trying too hard.

    I kind of skipped ahead to find out if the book was worth it to keep reading and I hated the ending. If I had read it cover to cover I would have felt cheated. :(

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    1. It took me awhile to get into this book, but I am glad I stuck with it. It didn't "wow" me like some people said it would, but it's an interesting and unique read for sure. I'm sorry you weren't a fan. I know either people LOVE this book or really hate it. I am sort of in between, but leaning towards "like" due to the fantastic writing. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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    2. I do like E. Lockhart's writing. I loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and I want to try the Ruby Oliver books someday.

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    3. I have heard so many people rave about Disreputable History of Frankie that I'm just going to have to read it. It sounds like my kind of read, especially since I enjoy her writing. Thanks for visiting, Christina. :) I hope you had a good weekend with your mom!

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  2. I'm really glad you enjoyed this one, Christina! I struggled with it a bit, but I found that reading the entire story definitely served a purpose in the end, and I'm glad I stuck with it. From what I've seen, it's much like a love it or hate it book. Either way - wonderful review!

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    1. Yes, I am definitely glad I stuck with it as well. I have read some mixed reviews, but it's Lockhart's writing that is pretty fantastic! Thanks, Melissa!

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  3. I've definitely seen mixed reviews on this one, so I'm just going to have to read it!

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    1. Yes and then let me know your thoughts! Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Hmmm. I like the sound of the twists and turns and all the dysfunctional aspects of the family relationships as those always fascinate me, but I'm bummed you didn't feel overly involved in Cady's life. I completely understand that feeling - where you're a little bit outside looking in. Good to know it entertained you overall even if it didn't blow you away:)

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    1. Yeah, I really couldn't connect with Cady, but it was good read nonetheless. I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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  5. I would be interested in the family secrets as well, but I'm a little wary of the elitist attitude of the characters, I think. Many hasn't had much luck with this book, but I think you were a bit more patient than most. :)

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    1. There are definitely some elitist attitudes in this book, but that's what makes the family/characters so interesting…they are definitely privileged. I have read some outstanding reviews and some not so great. I guess you could say I am in between, but it's definitely worth a read for Lockhart's writing. Thanks for visiting!

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  6. I think this one is definitely a victim of the overhype machine. There wasn't much I liked about it, and the supposed Big Reveal at the end was pretty forseeable, I thought. (Having read a few books with amnesiac narrators will help readers of this book know what to expect.). But the worst part for me was the sheer implausibility of the Big Plan that the Liars had and how it fell through.

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    1. I agree. It was definitely overhyped and I did expect a bit more in the end. I know you weren't a big fan of the book….I'd like to think I'm sort of in between and the writing bumped me up to a four star rating. The writing is just so damn good. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. While it wasn't very impactful, I'm glad to know you liked this book overall. I read some of Green's works, and as a famous author, I think if a book is blurbed by him, there must be some sort of merit in that book to have earned that. I'm not much into Contemporary (although I read and loved many of them) but I think I could read this one in the future :D Thanks for the review!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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    1. Yes, John Green's blurb is what initially peaked my interest. It's a very well written book, so I recommend it, especially if you are a fan of mysteries with a beachy location. Thanks for visiting, Faye.

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  8. Great review! This book didn't change my life either, but I really did enjoy it. I loved the writing style and was intrigued by the whole blue-blooded family. On a related note: The Disreputable History is so good. It is completely different from this and I just love it to pieces.

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    1. Me too…the writing style was incredible and I enjoyed it overall. I will definitely have to check out her other book, Disreputable History. It definitely sounds like I would enjoy it. Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

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