Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte (Random House)
Time taken to read: 4 hours
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
I bumped this up on my to-read list because the lady who interviewed me at Random House said it was phenomenal, that every page had twists and turns, etc. As noted above, I read We Were Liars in four hours, because I wanted to get to the twists and turns, and I found a few, but I don’t think this book lives up to its hype. It was a good book, but it wasn’t amazing. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t actually read anything about the book before reading it, you should just go into it, which I think makes sense, so if you haven’t read this book, maybe come back when you have. Or not. It’s not really that great. (There are spoilers ahead, though, FYI.)
I found it really difficult to sympathize with any of the characters. I mean, they have their own island. It’s not like Cadence’s condition doesn’t suck, because it does, and I do sympathize with that, but pre-accident Cadence I don’t sympathize with. I don’t even really like Gat, as much as he tries to make them aware of how narrow the other kids’ field of vision is. Spoiler ahead: he also agreed to light a house on fire, which is such an indication of privilege. It’s like burning a pile of money to “make a statement” when you could actually just give it to people who need it. They know that they don’t like their family’s system, but they don’t actually know how to make it better or break free. And yeah, they’re just (drunk) kids, but most kids don’t commit arson.
But a house on fire doesn’t make them liars. In fact, no one was lying, because three of them were dead and one couldn’t remember anything. I read on Goodreads that there were a few chapters that explained the title and the name the kids gave themselves, the Liars, but it was cut because it was too “slow”. Now I feel less like an idiot, as I thought I had completely missed something or wasn’t connecting something that made all of that make sense. Lots of people on Goodreads have found ways to make a connection, all of which make sense, but it definitely wasn’t strong enough in the book alone, which is why I’m only giving it three out of five stars.
However, I did like the style of the book, where it sort of turned into stanzas at some points. And the writing on a micro-level was great. I really like the imagery and descriptions, like how Cadence says Mirren is “sugar, curiosity, and rain.” I liked the metaphors too, although I think sometimes it was unclear whether or not something was a metaphor. For example, Cadence always talks about bleeding and her veins opening and something about her wrists and Gat wrapping her wounds, and I thought she was self-harming for a while, but eventually there was a line, though I don’t remember it, that indicated that it was just a metaphor for being really upset, and there was no literal bleeding.
At least I wasn’t able to guess the ending.