Review and Giveaway: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

May 11, 2014 Giveaway, Reviews 29 ★★½

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Genres: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
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.)

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29 Responses to “Review and Giveaway: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart”

  1. Valerie @ Innocent Smiley's Reviews

    I’ve seen this book being talked about a lot, and it does seem fairly interesting, though I’m also not a big fan of a lot of characters. I’m excited to see what the TWIST is though!

    My dream destination is Santorini in Greece! Or Florence in Italy, or Tokyo, or aughhhh everywhere. Europe.
    Valerie @ Innocent Smiley’s Reviews recently posted…Weekly Updates: Exams Are Over!!My Profile

  2. Pili

    I’ve seen some extremely positive reviews of this book, for them I guess the twist really worked out well, and others that were a bit more meh about it. But I’m still intrigued enough to want to check it out!
    Great and honest review, Stephanie!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #33!!My Profile

  3. Brittany

    My dream summer destination would have to be somewhere tropical. Sunshine, swimming, ocean, etc. My summer destination is my hometown in Wisconsin. Great summers (not so great winters). Thanks for a chance!

  4. Amanda P.

    I love Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I got to go on a week-long trip there with my immediate and extended family and it was so fun. We rented a house together and swam and got a lot of sun. 🙂
    Amanda P. recently posted…Bout of Books read-a-thonMy Profile

  5. Chyna @ lite-rate-ture

    lovely review. The other book you were reading with the same twist might have affected your opinion about we were liars, I have only been hearing positive feedback for this novel. Now it seems that we were liars has been receiving mixed reviews. Anyways thanks for sharing.

  6. Jess @ Such A Novel Idea

    I keep hearing people either saying one of two things about this book – 1. OMG it was amazing or 2. Eh, not for me. It’s so split that I’m having a hard time going to pick it up.

    Also, I’m dying to know what other book you read that had the same plot twist. Haha, curiosity killed the cat.

    For me, my favorite summer destination is Branson, but my dream destination is Europe. <3
    Jess @ Such A Novel Idea recently posted…Blog Tour & GIVEAWAY — Chantress Alchemy by Amy GreenfieldMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      Jess – I can email you the title of the book if you really want to know. 🙂 I WILL tell you that it’s an adult book.

      • Eliza

        When I was in middle school, I read a book that had a twisty plot quite similar to We Were Liars.
        Years later, I found myself remembering that book for no reason and wanting to know what it was (I can’t remember the title or names of the characters or the author)
        I googled the plot elements I remembered but couldn’t come up with anything, so I gave up, though it nagged me that I couldn’t remember what the book was.
        Reading We Were Liars rekindled my desire to remember that book! I had half started to believe I had imagined the half-remembered book and couldn’t believe I was seeing such strong echoes of it right in front of me (a “variation of a story you have heard before” as Cady said)
        Not sure if the book I’m thinking of is the same as whatever you’re thinking of–I read it probably around 8 years ago, so obviously it’s not the one that came out March 2014, but maybe the one you mention from 12 years ago?
        Might not be it–I think the book I’m remembering was YA, but worth a shot.
        Hope you can help me solve the question of the mystery book!
        email me at

  7. Kalli

    When I was younger, my dad would take me to Cedar Point. It would only be for the weekend but it ended up being one of the most memorable moments of my life. Honestly, I’m not picky with what sort of vacation I could be on. I’d be happy just relaxing in my room either reading or catching up on my tv shows or chilling out with my family. Basically, anything that doesn’t stress me out. 😀

  8. AgambirLovesBooks

    My favorite dream destination would be to go to New York because that is where The Mortal Instrument takes pace.

  9. Diane

    I just read this one. I knew nothing about it – didn’t read the synopsis, I have an ebook version so I couldn’t read the back cover… So I didn’t know there would be a twist in the book. I thought it was just a light summer read. Wow! Was I sobbing like a baby at the end. Imagine having to live with that aftermath? I think leaving the reader to have to imagine what that would be like was powerful enough not to include that in the book.

    Not knowing anything about it, I now understand the hype. But funny enough if I knew a twist was coming I might have felt the same way you did.

    • Stephanie

      I wish I hadn’t read the synopsis, because I was on the lookout for the BIG TWIST. I might have enjoyed it more, otherwise.

      I think I heard that this might be adapted for a film. I could actually see that working better than the book. I imagine a kind of dreamy quality, like The Virgin Suicides.

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