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 New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
This is one of those books I have so many mixed feelings about, I have no idea if I’ll get them all out coherently, but here I go trying anyway.
First of all, the writing style of this book totally wasn’t for me. It was written really well, don’t get me wrong, just not my style. Pretty disappointing considering that blurb had me excited AF to get reading about this mysterious, alluring family with a huge secret, and supposedly amazing ending. Not being a fan of the writing style was purely on me though. It’s not what I’m used to reading, and not what I enjoy. I decided to push through anyway.
Truth is, the main thing that kept me going through this book was my curiosity at what the big secret was. Lockhart kept the mystery alive so much so, I couldn’t have not finished no matter how many issues I had with it.
Basically, Cadence has problems. Those problems consist of being white, being privileged, and being rich. Then something happens and no one will fill poor Cadence in on this BIG FAMILY SECRET so she gets all whiney and dies her hair black and starts giving away every one of her possessions ever, even though half of it is useless crap. Also, the way Lockhart describes her migraines, and her ‘intense’ emotions is confusing and waaaaay over the top.
Halfway through this book it occurred to me I was reading about a messed up family, doing messed up things, for no obvious reason what-so-ever. The exact moment this thought hit me was a scene when Aunt Carrie was wandering the grounds of their private island. Her son is screaming for her because of his nightmares and she TURNS AND WALKS IN THE OTHER FLIPPING DIRECTION.
Like, man. These characters were so frustrating. The whole novels is literally about a summer where the ‘rebellious’ Liars, who are actually not so rebellious, sit around talking at each other. Not to, at. There conversations are about the most basic crap I’ve ever read, like ‘sexual intercourse’ (not sex. Sexual. Intercourse. Every time.) that never actually happened. There is literally no chemistry between any of them, least of all the love interest, until the very end when Cadence has a moment of discovery with Johnny and Mirren and I finally see the family bond going on.
And you know what’s really messed up? I actually enjoyed the suspense. Without giving too much away, I picked the end result of the secret, part way into the book. But then something happened that threw it from my mind. So when I got to ‘Part Four: Truth’ I had to put the book down after a sentence or two. It was like a gut punch that I really should have seen coming, but Lockhart did a great job of convincing me my initial suspicions were incorrect.
The ending was great, I actually got a little teary, which was odd because I never thought I cared about the characters until that moment. I guess it all finally made sense. And now I look back on this book like a bitter-sweet summer.
The other highlight was the use of the fairy tales. They were completely transparent, but they added an extra layer to the whole story and helped increase the suspense and allure of the family. They also showed the side of Cadence who was becoming more self-aware.
At the end there’s a really great moment where Cadence realises who she really is. Her view of herself is completely flipped on its head and I did a mental high five with her, because she finally viewed herself like I had the whole time.
So many people love this book–and I could see why–but it wasn’t for me. I enjoyed it when it was finished, but there was too much throughout that irritated me. All I could focus on were all the first world problems Cadence was bitching about. And yeah, I totally get we’re ALL like that IRL, and there’s a place for that in fiction, but it didn’t draw me in.
I enjoyed it to a point. And after so much excitement going into it, I’m disappointed it didn’t captivate me.
(and a half)
Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary