We Were Liars
May 15th 2014
Hot Key Books
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.
I finished We Were Liars about a week or so ago, and I still don't know how I feel about it. I'm going to try and talk about it without spoiling anything or without hyping anything up, because I know the hype about it has let a lot of people down, but I think that it's a book that, whether you love it or hate it, you still want to talk about it. It's a book that I think a lot of people should read, just because I think it is special regardless of whether I loved it or hated it. As I said, I still don't really know. But I'm glad I read it.
I think that We Were Liars was a really beautiful book. I loved the writing style, and I know that it will get on some people's nerves because that's just how it is when sometimes the narrative kind of breaks off into something poetry-ish
with lots of line breaks
with lots of repetition
which can sometimes come across as a little pretentious. And had this been pretty much any other story, or handled in any other way, it really could have annoyed me. I think that goes for a lot of things about this book for me, actually. Especially the ending. Which is why I understand the people who did not like because it's one of those things that feels like it's kind of on the border between brilliance and mehness.
Though, taking the ending out of the equation, the book stands on it's own without that. I feel kind of sad about the fact that so much emphasis is placed on the ending of this book, or rather the 'twist'. It's really the sort of story which you don't want to say OMG THAT ENDING THAT TWIST?1?.?(though I did do that when I finished it because it is pretty crazy) because we're just hyping it up so much that it's going to wind up being a disappointment to a lot of people. But then again, I guess that's the fun of it. Reading through a book a trying to piece everything together so that you can be one step ahead.
But anyway, enough with my contrary opinions about twists and endings and things, I should probably get back to the original point. It is just a really good, solid book. It's a mystery/suspense novel, yes, but it's also contemporary fiction in that it deals with a lot of stuff usually dealt with in less mystery-filled contemp and so I obviously liked that aspect of it. It was a really interesting book about family and trauma and youth and decadence and rich people and social consciousness. Which I think was one of the more interesting things about the book, and I loved the importance which it played in the book without seeming preachy or frustrating. When I first heard about this book and saw what it was about, I was expecting a book about a bunch of rich kids who go to a private island every summer and are rich and something happens to them which is bad. That's pretty much the premise. I expected a bunch of self-obsessed people who are so sort of caught up with their lives that nothing else is really even considered apart from that. And again, this is pretty much the book, and I can't really say to much about this without spoiling it, but I don't really know. I just liked how that whole aspect was handled.
Funnily enough, I feel like the characters were the least memorable thing about this book. Because the book is so short (well it's just over 200 pages, I think) we don't really get as much time for character work rather than just having things which contribute to the plot. Which is good for the kind of book that it is, but I feel like I would've been a lot, a lot more emotionally involved in the book if I felt like I'd gotten to know any of the liars better than we did. Though I did find it an emotional read, despite this, so maybe I'm just being fussy. And I do kind of think that the revelation was perfect, but that the tying up of the ending was all a little to perfect and nicey-nice and maybe that's just me? I don't know.
We Were Liars is an incredibly interesting book, and I think that there's a lot to it, and I'm excited about the discussion it's generating whether it's good or bad, because talking about books is the most fun. If you're a book nerd. But I don't think that it was perfect, even though I liked a lot of things about it. And I think that taking the time between reading it and writing this review has given me a chance to really think about my feelings and get them into order and all that. But regardless of all this, I've found it a hard book to stop thinking about.