A modern, sophisticated suspense novel… 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.Amazon
This is my SPOILER FREE book review for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I intend to use the ***ASPECT method for my discussion and will not spoil the ending.
Quick note. I am going to try to add “Genre” into my reviews if I can do it without spoilers. There is no good anagram that can be made with adding a G, and I sort of like the consistency of “ASPECT” so it will need to either be added into an existing letter or take over an existing letter.
I haven’t decided if I want to make that part of “Atmosphere” or change the T in ASPECT to “Type” instead of “Why THIIS book?” The second option seems to make the most sense, but I have found that many readers seem to like the explanation of why a book was picked.
Feel free to weigh in.
Atmosphere / Genre / Writing Style
Contemporary fiction that I guess technically falls into the YA category as our main character is a teenager. And yes, she acts like a teenager. The tone is confessional and dialogue-driven. We move back and forth in time a bit and there is a level of surrealism and a dream-like quality to some of the writing.
The title provides a pretty important piece of the “puzzle” without being overwrought.
Many of the characters are just surface. A few are given short poetic descriptions before they are moved off scene. (Example: “She is sugar curiosity and rain.”) Which… ok. It sounds cool but it doesn’t really tell us much. We do root for our main character and feel along with her even when she is being a slightly annoying (pretentious) teenager. There are two rather interesting characters: the love interest and the antagonist. The love interest is interesting because he offers a catalyst for the plot as well as a mirror to point out the flaws in the system… the antagonist is almost layered but sadly ends up just being almost a cartoon villain. We really never learn his motivations. and yet… I wasn’t disappointed in these stock characters because…
The plot was interesting. I didn’t want to get sucked in, but I did. I enjoyed trying to figure out if there was a question that needed answering and if so, what the answer was. It helped that it moved along at a very decent clip and the book is rather short. 250 pages full of staccato writing and dialogue. I read it almost in one sitting while eating lunch. The end was satisfying and I think there are some lessons to gleam…. Lessons like “teenagers can make really really stupid decisions,” “greed is bad,” “nothing brings a family together like tragedy,” and “in the end, stuff is just stuff.”
Yes. I flew through it. It was a simple read with a simple story and a simple resolution. There was nothing overly complex or metaphorical about any of it…. And normally this sort of book would bore me or be, at best, easily forgettable. This book, however, was fine for its simplicity. I don’t know, maybe it benefited from my lack of expectations. I wanted a book that would be a fast not too heavy read as my first book of the new year…. And it delivered.
Would I recommend it?
For the beach, for a plane, for something to read while sitting in the hammock sipping a diet coke… yes. This book isn’t going to change your life or be on any best-of lists. But it does exactly what a short summer read should do: tell a simple engaging story quickly and with very little fuss or muss. Make you care and then get you to an ending that makes perfect sense. In this case, you might be tempted to reread earlier portions just to be impressed with Lockhart’s careful writing and breadcrumbs. All in all, enjoyable and worth the time.
Note: my copy came with a bunch of “bonus material” like the author’s notes and plans and such. If you are interested in seeing some of the inner workings of an author’s brain, I highly recommend that you take the time to read this. I feel like I appreciated the book even more after reading the notes.
Why THIS Book?
I wanted something short, not too mind intensive, light, etc so I went hunting in my TBR stack. I am pretty sure I bought this at Target at some point in the last few years because sometimes I like an unreliable narrator and mind bleepery in my fiction. This book seemed to promise both.
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?