Publisher: Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge, 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge, 2014 YA Contemporary Challenge
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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 had heard a lot of good things about this novel, and I mean…the synopsis! I just had to give it a try.
We Were Liars tells the story of Cadence and she returns to her family’s island on her seventeenth year, two years after an accident on the island that resulted in her being found on the beach with absolutely no recollection of what happened. Over the course of the novel we see Cadence begin to remember the events that happened in summer fifteen.
We Were Liars was actually pretty boring. Most of the book is just Cadence remembering what happened before year fifteen. We are introduced to her cousins, Mirren and Johnny, and her potential love interest, Gat. Then we switch to year seventeen as Cadence returns to the island two years after the accident. We don’t actually find out what happens until the end of the book, which is pretty much the only thing that kept me reading.
“Welcome to my skull. A truck is rolling over the bones of my neck and head. The vertebrae break, the brains pop and ooze. A thousand flashlights shine in my eyes. The world tilts. I throw up. I black out. This happens all the time. It’s nothing but an ordinary day.”
Cadence was a character that I have absolutely no idea about. She’s a rich girl who lived a privileged life and who suffers extreme migraines from the accident. Other than that, I can’t really say anything about her. She wasn’t that deep or dynamic of a character at all, and for the most part, she was just there.
The same goes for the other characters: Gat, Mirren, and Johnny. They had slight personalities, but not enough for me to recall or talk about. They were just characters in a book and a means to an end. I really have no opinions on them either.
“‘Cadence?’ Mummy is leaning over me. I reach and clutch her hand. ‘Be normal now,’ she whispers. ‘Right now.’ ‘What?’ ‘Because you are. Because you can be.’ Okay. Okay. It was just a tree. Just a tree with a tire swing that I loved a lot. ‘Don’t cause a scene,’ whispers Mummy. ‘Breathe and sit up.’ I do what she asks as soon as I am able, just as I have always done.”
This novel, as a subplot, I guess, focuses on the problems Cadence’s family faces after the death of her Grandmother, Tipper. Basically, her mom and her two aunts are fighting for their father’s affection, and thus, money. It was all very wishy-washy and shallow to me.
“My head and shoulders melted first, followed by my hips and knees. Before long I was a puddle, soaking into the pretty cotton prints. I drenched the quilt she never finished, rusted the metal parts of her sewing machine. I was pure liquid loss then, for an hour or two. My grandmother, my grandmother. Gone forever, though I could smell her Chanel perfume on the fabrics.”
One thing, I believe, that kept me from being actively engaged in this novel was the way it was written. It wasn’t written badly, by far. It was just lyrical and poetic, and I just can’t get into that stuff very well. It was beautiful, but at times choppy, almost like we were getting a stream of consciousness from Cadence. It was hard for me to get into and stay in it.
The ending left me in a brain melt. It was nothing like I was expecting, which is surprising. It kind of reminded me of the ending to Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel. It was pretty trippy and not expected at all. I enjoyed it, one of the few aspects of this novel I did.
We Were Liars, unfortunately, wasn’t the novel for me. It was difficult for me to relate to, and thus keep engaged in it. However, others have had wonderful things to say about it, so if you don’t mind whimsical writing and slightly shallow characters, this might be one for you.