We Were Liars: Review

September 3, 2014 1 star books, 2014, contemporary, Layla 75

We Were Liars: ReviewWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Pages: 240 pages
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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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.
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.

We Were Liars was not for me. Some folks will undoubtedly like it – and I picked it up because I started seeing recommendations for it everywhere – but it was almost a DNF for me (a rare feat for a book). I had to force myself to finish it.

Here’s the premise: four teenagers whose respective families call them “The Liars.” They spend their summers together on a private island and are mostly white and upper-crusty (with the exception of Gat, and we will get to him later). They have lots of money and lots of problems (mostly caused by too much money and crazy awful parenting). Our narrator, Cadence Sinclair Eastman, says of her family: “We are Sinclairs. No one is needy. No one is wrong.” This gives you a decent idea of the family’s prevailing philosophy: Sinclairs are beautiful and perfect and wealthy and super invested in being beautiful and perfect and wealthy. You can see where this is going from a thousand miles away. You can see where it’s going from another continent; you can see where it’s going from space. If you are interested in stories about rich kids and secret pain and terrible decisions, this is the novel for you. 

The novel opens with the sense that something went Terribly Wrong two summers ago and now Cadence has migraines and no memories of what happened. Her doctors and her mother are close-mouthed around her and insist that she needs to remember on her own, so as readers, we know that this is our task as well. Cadence is returning to the beach and reuniting with the Liars for the first time in two years. What will she discover about the summer where everything went wrong? (Let me be clear: this was the most enjoyable part of the novel for me; I love playing detective.)

Here are a few of the problems I had with the novel.

1. The writing. I know that some people found Lockhart’s prose to be lyrical, but I found it stilted and awkward. For example, a description of Cadence’s cousin Mirren is as follows: “Mirren, she is sugar, curiosity, and rain.” To be clear: I don’t have a problem with poetic language, I just want it to do work (or if the work it’s doing is to be intentionally meaningless, I want that – the meaningless of someone’s characterization to have meaning in the novel). What does “sugar, curiosity, and rain” tell me about Mirren in this book? Not a lot. Johnny is “bounce, effort, and snark;” Gat is “contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.” It’s not evocative if what you’re evoking doesn’t make sense; this isn’t a game of Mad-Libs. (If it is, though, dibs on “Layla is cats, tea, and stubbornness.” Bam!)

Furthermore – though this made slightly more sense to me – I hated that I couldn’t always tell what precisely was happening in the novel. Here’s a pop quiz! Read the following and try to guess whether it’s a metaphor or not: “He pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. … Blood gushed rhythmically from my own wound / then from my eyes, / my ears, / my mouth.” Did you get it? It’s a metaphor! Jesus. If I called my mother and told her that blood was gushing rhythmically from my open wound and tasted like salt and failure, I think she’d tell me to go to the E.R. and not stop to wonder about whether I was simply taking some poetic license with my bad day. Anyway. I knew about this in advance – courtesy of Khanh on GR – but didn’t know how prevalent it’d be. It happens time and time again and sometimes it’s just a metaphor and sometimes it’s really real. Although I can understand the purpose this lack of clarity serves – we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator whose own sense of reality is fairly foggy at the moment – it didn’t really work for me. Cadence doesn’t know what’s happening and I get that, but as a reader, I found not knowing what was happening to be incredibly frustrating.

2. The characters. While I actively disliked every character in this book (except Gat), that’s not really a good way to measure whether a book is good or not. (There are plenty of excellent books about awful people.) Instead, with the exception of the narrator, I didn’t feel like I understood anything about any of the characters.  Johnny is … a boy cousin. Mirren is … a girl cousin. Who makes up a story about having a boyfriend. Gat is … the only character in this book who isn’t absolutely awful. It’s also unclear what their affiliation as Liars means in the context of the novel – outside of the fact that our narrator is unreliable – because they’ve been called Liars for years and years. Why? This never makes sense to me. (Is it supposed to indicate their complicity in their parents’ and grandparents’ lies about their family’s perfection? That’s the only thing that I can think of, but it doesn’t make sense View Spoiler »

Can I also say that they’re all horrible, though? Any time Gat (who isn’t a Sinclair) tries to bring up how screwed up the Liars’ politics are, he gets shot down. For example: “’Stop talking now,’ said Mirren. ‘Stop talking, forever,’ said Johnny. … ‘Shut up,’ I said. ‘I’ll give you more chocolate if you shut up.'” How does the novel deal with this? Gat is understandably upset and feels like he’s being shut down (he is). Cadence’s response to this is to say, “When we say Shut Up, Gat, that isn’t what we mean at all. … What we mean is, we love you. You remind us that we’re selfish bastards. You’re not one of us, that way.” And like … this kind of bothers me. One, this conversation allows them to continue being assholes and doesn’t ask them to change the way they think or talk to Gat – he’s the one who needs to change what he’s hearing (i.e., Cadence tries to teach him how to re-read what they’re saying, but whether they need to think about NOT SAYING IT is never in question). And this is fucked up to me. It’s an acknowledgment that they’re being awful without actually taking steps to change that. The second thing that bothers me is that Gat’s character – as it is – seems to exist in this universe to make Cadence and the Liars better people. (And this is also fucked up. Here’s an example: it’s like every Nicholas Sparks novel where the point of the inevitably doomed female love interest is to make the man into a better man. In this case, the emotional / spiritual development of white upper-class people is what we care about, right?)

3. The Ending. View Spoiler »

4. Also, the note at the beginning – the injunction to JUST LIE if anyone asks you about the ending – really irritated me, in part because it’s never made clear to me what it means for the Liars to be Liars or what it means for me to lie about this book. Help me out here if you understand why they’re liars and what that means and then help me figure out whether lying is a thing that I should do as a reader.

Has anyone read this? What did you think about it? I know lots of people looooved this book – I had tons of friends (whose opinions I respect and appreciate) love it – but it just didn’t work for me. Did it work for you?

Don’t lie to me.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

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75 Responses to “We Were Liars: Review”

  1. Betsy

    I figured out the ending by page 25 & wished the entire time that I would get to the end & be wrong…this has been done better before & no real redemption. Disappointed after all the recommendations I read for this one!

  2. Kristen K.

    Thanks for being honest in your review…every book isn’t for everyone…I know it’s hard to share reviews for books that didn’t really work for you…I don’t like it either, but honesty is the best policy!

  3. A Canadian Girl

    I ended up reading this one too because of all the reviews I saw and then wished I hadn’t because I felt like I had wasted my time. I pretty much had the same problems with it as you, Layla. And unlike you, I didn’t know that this one would be full of metaphors so when that gun quote came, I was like, “She got shot?!” only to find out that Cadence wasn’t speaking literally.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack

  4. User

    I put down this book about 30 pages in… I wasn’t sure if it was because of my reading slump or I just genuinely didn’t connect with it. Reading your review, I definitely think it was that it wasn’t working for me. Even 30 pages in, I was confused, uninterested, and wasn’t a fan of the style of writing. I will say a big THANK YOU for spoiling the ending. I really wanted to know what happened, and the unreliable narrator and mystery did intrigue me, but not enough to slough through a book that wasn’t working. It’s interesting, but I think I would have had all the same problems with it that you did, had I continued.
    User recently posted…Announcing the 3rd Annual Sunnydale Project!

  5. Larissa

    I totally understand your rating of this one. I ended up giving this one 3 stars though just because I didn’t hate it nor did I love it.

    The things that bothered you did bother me too. Namely the writing- it was quite jarring to me and didn’t flow. It made reading the book very difficult to get into and I did find myself pushing to finish the book at certain areas. The odd metaphors also did throw me for a loop when I first read them O.o I was like “omg where did this come from?!?!” for a good solid 5 pages and then I read them over a few more times to get that Cadence wasn’t actually bleeding but just talking about her pain. Oh. I do think it makes sense considering Cadence was this unreliable narrator however I’m sure there could have been a more objective way to showcase this without confusing us readers.

    Gat was definitely my character and he just really resonated with me. He was the one character I could really sympathize with and I the treatment he got from others on the island really did bother me. I never really thought of your point with him being the one to make the others and Cadence better as people. Thinking this over however I can definitely see where this is true.

    I never saw the ending coming either but actually liked it. I love when those curveballs come into play and later connecting all of the dots together. It did have that emotional impact on me for sure. The contrast between real and the unreal that you brought up is quite interesting to me though. Unlike you I would be fine if it wasn’t explicitly stated that this was a ghost story or whatever. However the fact that this same book brings up several examples of fairytales and tosses them off as such does seem a bit odd.

    Great review girl! <33
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

  6. Tessa

    This is on my to read list dang :|
    I was cracking up at: “Jesus. If I called my mother and told her that blood was gushing rhythmically from my open wound and tasted like salt and failure, I think she’d tell me to go to the E.R” good thing no ones home. SALT AND FAILURE!!!!! Im gonna use that now when I screw up anything thanks :D

  7. Ari

    I am with you here, as this was not a book for me. I understand why some people might like it (or maybe I am just lying to myself to make me feel better for disliking it), it’s just that I like confusion if (and only if) there’s something really interesting on the other end. But when I found out what the whole mystery really was I just liked it even less. I just couldn’t make myself believe ‘it’ no matter what, not to mention that i didn’t connect with any of the characters, which made things harder even.

    Is it bad that i am glad that other people think like me? So far I’ve been reading only raving reviews, i was starting to think that there was something bad with me, LOL!
    Ari recently posted…10 Little Pieces of Me

    • Layla

      It’s not bad to be glad you’re not alone. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one with a radically different opinion on something. (When that happens, I initially wonder – “Did I read it wrong? What did I miss? Am I overthinking this?” I am usually accused of overthinking *everything* so this sort of anxiety is second nature to me by now. ;))

      Nah, I’m with you – I get why folks might like this, although it didn’t work for me as a reader. I can imagine why people might be moved by the ending and engaged by the mystery, but for whatever reason – I didn’t read it in the right frame of mind, I was already turned off by the prose, etc – I wasn’t one of them.

      And yeah, I was whelmed by the ending. It’s possible a different ending might have made the mystery work for me, but it would also be a drastically different story. Anyway. Nothing wrong with you!
      Layla recently posted…A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

  8. Elizabeth Aguilar

    Thanks for the warning. I’m about to give in because so many of my friends enjoyed the book and I want to see why. At least now I know to not get my hopes up.

  9. Nikki

    I’m so glad I read your review on this! I even read the spoiler, which I’m glad about, because it cinched this as a book I do not want to read. A twist like that, given the context, would’ve pissed me off way too much and I would’ve felt cheated in reading this instead of another book I would’ve enjoyed more.

      • Kate

        Thank you, thank you, thank you! I did not enjoy this book either and thought I was the only one. I also found the writing distracting and the characters awful(except, as you mention, for Gat). I disliked them so much that spending time with them was a struggle – which made finishing the book challenging.
        I also guessed the big spoiler quite early on.
        I also felt… what’s the point? What’s the point of these liars? I don’t know and by the end I didn’t really care.

        • Layla

          You certainly aren’t alone. (I’m actually surprised by the number of readers who seem to have disliked We Were Liars; I still think we’re the minority, but I’m surprised by how many of us there are!)

          And yes, that was the way I felt about the characters, too. Like I said, I’m happy to consume media with unlikeable protagonists, but I just … strongly disliked everyone except Gat. It made it difficult for me to care whether they lived or died, which was ultimately more relevant than I thought it’d be.

          Some folks here have come up with good readings of what it might mean to be a liar – is is that they’re lying about the circumstances of their lives? (i.e., trying to not confront their own privilege) that they lie to each other and to themselves about everything? I’m still thinking about this,
          Layla recently posted…A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

  10. Peyton

    It’s refreshing to get a different opinion on this. I’ve seen so much gushing and praise over this book, but some of the excerpts I read (like the gunshot part you mentioned) left me wary. I still want to read it to make my own opinion, but I feel like I might end up thinking the same as you!
    Peyton recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

    • Layla

      Yeah, I don’t *really* want to discourage anyone from reading We Were Liars since so many people loved it, and I think it’s worthwhile to read it and talk about it anyway. If the gunshot excerpt left you wary, though, you miiiiiight have a reading experience that’s a little similar to mine. If you do decide to read it at some point, I look forward to hearing what you think about it.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

    • Layla

      I haven’t read Shatter Me but from looking at it quickly, maybe? More line breaks though! And yeah, look for it at the library if you feel like you might not love it (shelf space is precious). If you do read it, come back and let me know what you think about it!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  11. Chelsea B.

    I really appreciate your honest review! To be honest I’ve heard mixed reviews at best. I wasn’t sure if it was for me. Pretty sure it’s not. Not this book, at least. I’ve heard this author has other great books, so I think I’ll start there first :-)

  12. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I’ve LOVED Lockhart’s previous books but this one definitely didn’t work for me. :/ Like you, the ending didn’t impress, the writing couldn’t draw me in, and there were too many unknown variables for me to truly enjoy this mystery. I’m glad it’s gained so much attention but it just didn’t work for me, sadly. Wonderful review, Layla! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

  13. Mary @ BookSwarm

    LOL! Those character descriptions definitely got a head-cock out of me when I read this book. Loving the Mad-Libs. I’m gonna go ahead and call dibs on “Mary is naps, sparkle ponies and grumpiness.” (Yeah. Meaningless madlibs. But they’re fun to do!). And the characters (sans Gat) were pretty much assholes.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Pre-Squee: Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

    • Layla

      Ooh, I love yours. That could also be a description of me, sans sparkle ponies. Bahaha. If I ever find myself on a dating website again, I’m going to keep these in mind. They could come in handy!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  14. shay

    I also did not understand the Cadence-being-shot part. It never came back and it made me wonder if it actually happened or…what. I also completely agree with you about the writing style. I feel like every other review I read was gushing about how “literary” and “sophisticated” it is, but for me it felt awkward a lot of the time. It seemed to me like the author was trying really hard to be cool, and for me it just didn’t work. I’m glad someone else wasn’t so fond of this book.
    shay recently posted…Waiting on For Real

    • Layla

      My read on that scene is that it doesn’t happen – that it’s just a metaphor. (She is later able to go to Europe with her dad – the next summer – so I don’t think he actually shoots her.) I couldn’t deal with it, though, and found the writing style off-putting from the very beginning as a result.

      Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of readers did like the book, and Lockhart’s been recognized for her literary talent, so I’m glad it worked for some readers, but I also think that it’s ok if we were outliers. ;) If you will.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  15. Kate S. (@ExLibris_Kate)

    To me, the lying was referring to how everyone lied to each other, and themselves, about, well, everything; their feelings, their motivations, etc… I really liked this book, but it was perhaps because it reminded me a bit of my family (minus the darker stuff) and the sort of repressed WASPy-ness with which they approached everything. However, I know a LOT of people who HATED it for the reasons you just said. I think it’s just one of those books that elicits a strong response.
    Kate S. (@ExLibris_Kate) recently posted…Trial By Fire By Josephine Angelini

    • Layla

      I think you’re right – and I think the amount of engaged discussion over this book means that it’s trying to do something interesting, whether it worked for folks or not. I’m glad that you liked the book – it’s good to get a different perspective on the novel.

      That all makes sense to me as a way to read their affiliation as Liars. Thanks for your thoughts on that. I know it’s possible that I’m too literal here, but I want to know that if it’s about lying about your feelings and your motivations, look at the heartbreak and tragedy that entails! why is this a stance the novel encourages me to adopt? That’s something I’m still kind of puzzled by.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

    • Layla

      Ooh, interesting. Can you say a bit more about what worked for you? (It’s also ok if not, but I am genuinely curious about what did work for you as a reader.) Anyway, I’m glad to hear a dissenting opinion from the way other side of the spectrum! I think most of my friends on GR really liked this book, so you’re in good company, I promise. :)
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

    • Layla

      Audiobooks are such mixed bags for me. If I love the book, I really love them; but they can also turn me against a book if I’m not into the writing style. Having to listen to each and every word when I could be skimming = torture. Anyway, I’m sorry this didn’t work for you! I’ve never read Shadowlands – worth a read, do you think?
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  16. Jessica Cooley

    Ugh, this sounds horrible. It’s on a list of books that has been nominated by one of my co-committee members. I wasn’t looking forward to reading this and now I’m thinking it’ll be a skimmer and vote no…but who knows…maybe it’ll suck me in and away I’ll go.
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Uni the Unicorn – Mini-Review

    • Layla

      Wait, what kind of cool work do you get to do where your committee members nominate YA books? (I am a grad student in English; if my committee members nominate books, they’re on Renaissance literature. Which is cool, too, but all the same!)

      Maybe try reading it for reals if you have the time and energy for the first 40-50 pages and then make a call. Maybe you’ll dislike it, but maybe it’ll work for you! Your mileage may vary. ;)
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

          • Jessica Cooley

            Just a follow up – I’m almost done with this book now. It’s not good. My review is a work in progress as I’m still reading the book but it’s a push. If it weren’t on the list of book I need to read I wouldn’t bother but what are you going to do? I can see why teens would LOVE this book though. It like an old Dreamworks movie – the kids love them but it wasn’t until recently that adults did too. This is a YA strictly for teens and, while I’m working on not being all judgey in life, if an adult loves this book then I’m judge the shit out of them and think they need to grow up.
            Jessica Cooley recently posted…Subtly and book lists

  17. Eileen @ BookCatPin

    I love the honest review!! “Layla is cats, tea, and stubbornness.” I loved that hahaha. I think We Were Liars is the one book I’ve seen the most mixed reviews for. I’ve been really struggling with whether I should get this book or not but I think I will probably hold off for now.
    Eileen @ BookCatPin recently posted…WoW #9: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

    • Layla

      I see your cat! You can be “cats, noun, and other noun” if you want. :)

      Glad you liked the review. The responses to it seem to be pretty mixed here, though in general, I thought the book was praised more often than not. Anyway, I will say that if you have any interest in it at all – *because* the reviews are so mixed – you should consult your local library or bookstore and give it a go. Who knows, you might love it!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  18. Elizabeth @ Don't Take My Books Away

    I DNFed this after 40 or 50 pages. I really didn’t like the writing style and it was not worth it to me to hang in there just for a twist ending. And I typically like unreliable narrators who have lost touch with reality and I typically keep reading if there’s going to be a twist and a mystery to solve. Glad to know I didn’t miss anything great.
    Elizabeth @ Don’t Take My Books Away recently posted…All Our Yesterdays- Cristin Terrill

    • Layla

      Ah, same. I kept on trucking with this one, but I was bothered by all of those things as well (as is probably apparent)! But yes! I like unreliable narrators and solving mysteries! (e.g., I read Caitlin Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl around the same time in the last year and liked that – it never approached possible-DNF status for me, which We Were Liars did from the get-go).

      Anyway. No, you didn’t miss anything. Except the twist? Which you may have seen coming if you are a better detective than I am! My first guesses when solving a mystery, though, are usually closer to the mundane than the paranormal. (I will never assume ghosts or angels or demonic possession or anything; I will always look for human evil first.)
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  19. Adeselns

    I’ve read reviews that said that this was the best book ever and I have also read some reviews where the person did not finish the review. I get that probably this is those types of books where you have to dissect every theme and symbolism to enjoy it and get what is going on, though to be fair I am starting to not like “hype” books. Every time I read one, I am like: you are bad and you should feel bad, novel!
    Adeselns recently posted…REVIEW | SHATTER | ERIN McCARTHY

    • Layla

      It definitely seems like readers reacted strongly to this book – even from this post, it seems like there’s a mix of opinions on it, which is really great, because it means the novel’s *trying* to do something interesting – whether it worked for people or not is another story!

      You might be right about that. For my part, I think that my desire to dissect every theme and figure out the symbolism was a component of why the novel *didn’t* work for me. (Which is why I’m especially curious about why the book *did* work for people, too! Like, what are some ways of thinking about this book that might help me see it differently?) Anyway, if you read it, come back and let me know what you think – regardless of whether it’s good or bad!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  20. Lauren at Bookmark Lit

    Never in my life have I found a book review that SO PERFECTLY captured my thoughts on a novel. Everything from the part about confusing metaphors to not understanding liars, you nailed my thoughts exactly. Thank you for making me realize I’m not the only one feeling this way!! And for writing a far more eloquent review than mine. :)
    Lauren at Bookmark Lit recently posted…WWW Wednesdays #7

    • Layla

      Haha, I went to read your review – it seems like we’re bothered by some of the same things, for sure. (And your review is plenty eloquent!) I wonder if we both would have been less bothered by the “my father shot me with a gun and my blood was EVERYWHERE” if it hadn’t been placed so early in the narrative – it did also certainly start me off on the wrong foot as well. Sigh. The cover is really lovely, though.

      You’re not alone – the response on this post at least indicates that other folks were ambivalent about this novel as well, though I think, by and large, more readers love it than not. And that’s ok, too.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  21. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    I had super high hopes for this one as well but when it came down to it it was a massive disappointment. The ending was one I didn’t really see coming but was the furthest thing from what I was expecting to happen. Plus you’re right, it was just dumb. hahaha I never quite understood the lying bit either. It was catchy and made for a great title but ultimately failed to make sense. Great review!
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

    • Layla

      Yeah, I think I got this and an ARC of Ann Brashares’s The Here and Now around the same time and had high hopes for them both! Ultimately, neither of them really worked for me.

      Re: the ending – I didn’t see this coming either. But, I am super prosaic! If you tell me there’s a mystery, my first guesses are usually much more mundane than ghosts.

      I do really want to know what folks think about the encouragement to lie! if lying has a number of meanings within the novel – it seems none of them good – why should I do it?

      Anyway, thank you so much!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  22. Lisa is Busy Nerding

    What an incredibly insightful review of this book. THANK YOU for breaking it down the way you did. I adore most of Lockhart’s writing, but this sounds like a cluster. That twist at the end is bizarre. I don’t even know. And now, thanks to you, I don’t have to. MWAH.
    Lisa is Busy Nerding recently posted…Top Ten Book Peeps at My Lunch Table

    • Layla

      Haha, absolutely don’t read it if you don’t want to, but I will say that if you usually love her writing, you might still love this? Plenty of folks do! You know, your mileage may vary and such. :)
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  23. Hilary

    Your revelation about how the tragedy got turned into a literal connotation (I don’t think connotation is the right word…) is truly eye-opening. I also agree with your thoughts about her writing. In some sense, it is ‘poetic’ but I had trouble reading through it since I found myself stumbling over each sentence, having to reread it several times.

    The way the other three are trying to shut Gat down makes me think that that is what led to the title ‘We were Liars’; they’re trying to deny the truth of their reality. Okay, Gat tries not to succumb to the pressure but he eventually does.
    Hilary recently posted…Shatter the Winner’s Curse

    • Layla

      Yeah, I know a lot of folks really like the writing style? It just didn’t work for me. But tastes differ! Like you, I had trouble with it, but this might not be everyone’s reading experience.

      Hmm, that’s an interesting point – that “lying,” at least in one sense for the novel, is about how the Liars want to deny how their privilege works. I could absolutely see that! :) I still want to know, though, why as a reader who has been shown how destructive this denial is, *I* should in turn adopt that position and lie? Like, why ask your readers to lie (other than a marketing strategy) when the book is about how screwy lying is?

      Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it. <3
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  24. Carina Olsen

    Ohh, I have only seen people loving this book, so seeing you hate it is quite awesome :D Thank you for sharing Layla :) And. Well. Now I think that I don’t want to buy this book after all. I don’t like reading books about kids like that, to be honest. And ack! I don’t think I would like that writing either :\ Grrr. Thank you so much for being honest in this review :D And making me see that I don’t want this book after all, lol. <3 And yeah. I am now never reading this book. Thank you for sharing. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #151

    • Layla

      Well, I will say that I think lots of people did love this book, so if you’re at all curious about it, you should read it and decide for yourself. :) But, yeah, I have a hard time getting into the books if I don’t like their writing style or if I feel (whether rationally or not!) like there are some inconsistencies with the world-building or the narrative, whatever; and I don’t usuuaaaally tend to go for stories about upper-class kids and their problems.

      Anyway, thanks for your response! <3!
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

    • Layla

      I mean, I never want to be the final arbiter of taste, so I hope you read it yourself. I know lots of folks loved this – and didn’t find the prose to be stilted and awkward! I think some people really got into it – so maybe, if you read it, you’ll love it, too.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  25. Erin BookNut

    You just said every single thought I had while reading this book! I’m not alone! I could not stand the writing style. One of my friends and I got into an argument about the shooting part, whether or not it was real or a metaphor (I was on the metaphor side). We happened to be meeting the author the next day at TBF so we asked her. At first she didn’t want to say, she said “well that’s up to you” but she finally agreed that it was metaphorical, then winked and said “but I could be lying”.

    Like you I disliked almost every character, to the point where I nearly threw the book across the room a few times. So I promise you are not alone!

    Erin @ The Book Nut
    Erin BookNut recently posted…YA Review: Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

    • Layla

      I am on Team Metaphor there as well. (The scene where she talks about slitting her wrists threw me a little, but I’m also on Team Metaphor there as well.) Team Metaphor! Because I’m pretty sure her dad doesn’t actually shoot her – they go to Europe together.

      And bahaha. “But I could be lying.” Thanks for sharing that!

      You are not alone either. I was never at a place where I wanted to throw the book across the room – I use a kindle app on my iPhone to read – but I can certainly understand wanting to. Anyway, yes. It’s wonderful that we can meet and share our feelings about books on the internet – many of my friends IRL loved this book, so it’s nice to know that other folks were also whelmed by this one.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

  26. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Wow Layla, this is a fantastic, thought provoking and indepth review of the book! I agree, it explored the folly of the privileged, wealthy and wicked people who kind of got what were coming to them in the end. But Gat, oh my heart reached out to him after all the terrible treatment that he got. The writing definitely wasn’t for everyone, and almost every review I’m read of this novel talks about that particular sentence. I admit, it was shocking and confusing, but aside from that one and the talk of the ‘bleeding’, there wasn’t too much of it to stumble over.

    Overall I liked it because I haven’t read a book quite like this one before with the unreliable narrator and I didn’t see the end coming. I like books that keep me on my toes!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Blog Tour & Review: Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead by Rebecca James

    • Layla

      Thanks, Jeann. I’m glad you liked this one!

      I also liked Gat as a character – I just really wanted more for him than Cadence or the Liars. I might have liked a book from his perspective more than a book from Cadence’s perspective; actually, I know I would have. He’s treated so terribly by the people he loves most – Cadence included – and I kind of wish he’d gone off with his other girlfriend and never returned to that goddamn island. :)

      So, yeah, the sentences that stood out for me with regards to – is this a metaphor or did this really happen – are the one I quoted and a later one in the book about Cadence cutting herself, which also seems to be a metaphor. I think the larger issue for me is not that these two quotes are unclear, but that they establish a world in which it’s constantly unclear what’s happening – but we’re encouraged to read moments like these as metaphors after some initial uncertainty. Anyway, so by the time we get to the ending, when Cadence discovers that those poor dogs and the Liars are dead, this suddenly shifts – the ghosts aren’t like a metaphor for anything, they’re real ghosts? Maybe? Again, I’m open to other readings here. I get the point of this – Cadence’s sense of reality is pretty foggy for most of the book – but we’re supposed to believe, I think, that there’s a shift by the book’s end. Anyyyyhow. Glad you liked this, and thanks for such a thoughtful comment.
      Layla recently posted…We Were Liars: Review

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