Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
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.
If you’ve already read We Were Liars, you can appreciate how crazy this is is: I read the book yesterday, and earlier that day, I finished another book (which shall remain unnamed to prevent spoilers in either case) that had the SAME twist ending as We Were Liars. Go ahead and digest that, because what are the chances? Both stories were pretty good, but I think the other one pulled off the twist better. Part of the problem, or perhaps, the main problem, with We Were Liars is that everything hinges on the twist. Will it shock you? Will it move you? If it doesn’t, you might have a reaction similar to mine, which was, “Eh, that was OK.” I wasn’t shocked, and most unfortunately, I wasn’t moved. I knew SOMETHING was coming, based on the over-the-top, OMG-ness of the synopsis. (Big mistake, in my opinion.) However, if I look at it another way, it did get me to keep reading, even though for much of the book it felt like very little of substance was happening, because I was curious to see this twist revealed.
I never felt attached to the fairly large cast of characters, beginning with the narrator, Cadence Sinclair. She and her three best friends are called the Liars: her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and Gat, her sort-of boyfriend. Every summer, the Liars and their families visit the Sinclair’s private island, owned by the patriarch, Cadence’s grandfather. I kept picturing them like the Kennedys, but with less scandal and fewer political ambitions. There is a fair amount of squabbling among Cadence’s and her cousins’ mothers (all sisters) as they argue over their future inheritances. Cadence finds it all rather unseemly, and while it wasn’t particularly interesting, it helps to set the main events of the story into motion.
The writing has a very dreamy, poetic quality. I found it pleasant, but others might not enjoy it so much. It fits in with the fact that Cadence had a serious swimming accident two summers prior, leaving her with memory loss around the time of her accident. Cadence is convinced something terrible happened prior to the accident, and her attempts to find out the truth are stymied by her family who seem determined to keep it from her.
After the twist is revealed, we are left with very little time to delve into the ramifications. I think I would have enjoyed the story more without the twist. It could have been a straight-up exploration of…errr…that THING that is revealed at the end. I also didn’t like that the story was wrapped up in a mostly pretty bow. Where was the comeuppance for Cadence? She made some truly horrific decisions, but she is let off the hook relatively easily.
If you remove the twist from We Were Liars, you are left with a light story of rich kids enjoying a lovely, stress-free summer, some shallow family in-fighting, and a little bit of romance and heartbreak. In other words, but for the last few pages, this is little more than an easy beach read.
Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
For those of you wanting to know about the other book that I mention at the top of this review, I’ll tell you the following, and if you REALLY want to know the title – send me an e-mail…or just look at my GR read page – this book is listed right after We Were Liars. 🙂
- It’s an adult book, published in March 2014.
- The author has another fairly well-known book, published 12 years ago, and this book ALSO had a similar (though not identical) twist.
- There was a film made from that movie, starring an actress that we all know. Critics HATED it. (I thought it was pretty good.)