Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: May 13th 2014
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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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.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is a hard book to review, since its success depends so much on not knowing the secrets beforehand. I can't even really tell you what it's about; I think it's best to go into We Were Liars without knowing anything at all. The ending changes everything, so it's going to be hard to talk about without spoiling anything. But I'm going to keep it vague and try to explain what worked for me and what didn't anyways.

As is to be expected with a book like this, the suspense is what I liked best. Not understanding what was going on and trying to piece together what had happened captivated me throughout the novel. I was genuinely shocked at the end, so that's one way that the novel definitely succeeded.

I also really enjoyed E. Lockhart's writing. This is my first E. Lockhart book, but it definitely won't be my last - you can tell she has a distinct style and a keen eye for imagery that will resonate with readers. I can see how this style of writing might not work for every reader - it's rather choppy and sparse - but I thought it worked really well with Cady's voice.

What I didn't love, though, were the characters, because all of them seemed underdeveloped to me. It's partly because this book is so short, but I just wanted more. The whole family dynamic isn't elaborated on enough for me to fully invest in the development of their relationships: each family's story is mentioned a couple of times, but only in passing, so I never got a full grasp of the situation. I was especially disappointed by the Liars' characters - as the bond that ties this whole story together, I expected more from their relationship. We never really get to know them, or understand why they're so close, asides from the outside circumstances that have brought them together. To me, the ending would only make sense with a very strong bond and complex relationship between these four Liars, and since their relationship is underdeveloped, the whole story kind of fell flat for me.

The main problem, for me, is how much this book relies on shock value. Yes, I was shocked by the ending, but I still didn't love it. Again, this might be because of the short length - I wanted more of a development after the big revelation. I wanted to know what it all meant, how the revelation would affect Cady and the rest of the family later on. But instead of elaborating on that at all, the book just ends once we find out what happened.

I didn't love this book as much as I'd hoped, because of the underdeveloped characters and the lack of a story after the big revelation. But I still encourage you to give this book a try - I did love the suspense and the writing, and it's definitely a unique story. I have E. Lockhart's earlier release, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, on my TBR, so I'm going to see if that one is a better fit for me.


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