Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Random House | Delacorte
Pages: 240 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from 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.
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.
Thoughts on We Were Liars
I'm really not sure what to say about We Were Liars, and I don't think I've ever been this conflicted about a book before. I'm going to briefly share four things I think you need to know about We Were Liars, followed three reasons (one of them very vague) why this book just didn't work for me.
Four Things To Know About This Book:
1. The less you know the better.
I absolutely agree with all the reviews that say the less you know about this story the better. The climactic moment of We Were Liars hinges on a major plot twist that you don't want to know beforehand. The book is narrated by Cady - the "brilliant, damaged girl" described in the summary - who has no memory of the "accident." If you're like me, you'll spend a lot of the time leading up to the twist trying to guess what exactly happened. But it's better if you don't have any real idea what's coming.
2. The hype machine is in full gear for this book.
To be honest, I can't remember the last time there was this much hype surrounding a book. I feel like so many of the early reviews for this book have been fawning proclamations of love. There's nothing wrong with that at all - it's awesome when people are really passionate about a book. I'm just not in that camp with this one. I spent most of the book confused but still enjoying what I was reading. Until I wasn't. And then I never recovered my former positive feelings.
3. The writing style is lyrical, but it's also very confusing and disjointed.
One thing I really liked, particularly in the beginning, is the writing style. It's confusing and hard to connect to, but it's also really different and memorable. You can tell that Cady isn't totally mentally sound from the way it's narrated, so I think it was a fitting decision to write the book this way. But it's also really frustrating at times. The disjointedness started to grate on my nerves by the end, but I can still admit that I think I get the reasoning behind it.
4. The story will leave you talking.
Whether or not you like this book, you'll probably want to talk about it. This is nothing like the other books I've previously read by Lockhart, except that I think most of her books provoke some kind of discussion. I can absolutely say that I wanted to talk about this book by the time I closed the last page. I had so many thoughts, and it was the first time I wasn't able to rate a book on Goodreads immediately after finishing. I had to take time to sort through my feelings, which were incredibly intense and conflicted.
Three Reasons It Didn't Work For Me:
1. The characters and their relationships.
I'm not sure if it's because of the way it was written or the brevity of the book, but I really struggled with these characters and their relationships. They are almost all unlikeable (not a deal breaker for me), but what bothered me more was that I found certain elements of their interactions and conversations to be almost unbelievable. It required too much of a suspension of my disbelief for me to really buy into the story. The twist left me completely emotionless because I didn't care about these people who were mostly awful, very entitled and made such stupid decisions.
2. The twist was one of my biggest bookish pet peeves / deal breakers.
I can't say what the twist was because that would spoil it, and I promise not to do that. However, I do have to acknowledge that I actively avoid books that use this element for a story's resolution or as an explanation for the majority of the plot. I find it incredibly frustrating when a book I've become invested uses this particular element, so my reaction to this book was definitely affected by my personal dislike of books with this kind of twist.
3. The way I felt when it ended.
A lot of early reviews have indicated that you should have tissues nearby when reading because the book left them in tears. I felt absolutely none of that when I turned the last page. My overall emotion was anger and complete frustration. There was nothing hopeful for me about the way We Were Liars ends. It's an ending that doesn't really provide much closure, and it sort of highlighted all the issues I was having with the book by that point. I can't stand how conflicted I still feel about this book.
Why Can't I Rate It?
I developed a new rating system not that long ago, but I can't use it for this book. There's really no fair way to assign one of my rating phrases to We Were Liars. I think many readers will love it - there is a reason it's being hyped this much - but I wasn't one of them. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it because I know some of my feelings were based on my personal dislike for one of the elements that is crucial to the conclusion of this story. No book works for everyone, and this one definitely didn't for me.
"It was love, and it hit me so hard I leaned against the screen door that still stood between us, just to stay vertical. I wanted to touch him like he was a bunny, a kitten, something so special and soft your fingertips can't leave it alone. The universe was good because he was in it. I loved the hole in his jeans and the dirt on his bare feet and the scab on his elbow and the scar that laced through one eyebrow."
*I received a copy of this book from Delacorte in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.