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.
This book opens to a foreword from the author that essentially asks the reader not to reveal the plot, or the ending (especially the ending!) to those who are yet to venture into it. And while I couldn't agree more, nor would I be tempted to do that, it makes this review somewhat difficult to write. Choosing one's words has never seemed more pertinent to the task at hand.
(Consequently, this is a spoiler-free review.)
"We Were Liars" is a lot of things. It's a large family, it's a private island, it's a bond of friendship, it's a set of problems, it's a mystery, it's a set of circumstances which are woven together in the end. This is both the synopsis and the only description. Any elaboration would take away from the story.
The writing style is always what stands out to me first, provided that it is in any way distinctive or specific. E. Lockhart's writing style is both. It's beautiful, poetic and lyrical. It's also convoluted. As is the story.
This book is divided into several parts. The events unfold in a non-chronological order, spanning a little over two years (and three summers) in the lives of the Sinclair family. And though the sequence is non-chronological, it isn't chaotic. Each part will follow a specific, chronological set of events and it's only the new part that might shift the timeline back or forth. The pacing does suffer, but not in such a way that the action comes in bursts. Some chapters are surely more interesting, and more relevant, than the others. But in the grand scheme of things, each is so short that the stories they contain never last long enough to cause one to want to book down and move on to something else. I found the story to be gripping. And I dearly wished to unravel it myself before the ending was revealed to me.
Told from the point of view of the protagonist, a teenage girl named Cadence (Cady) Sinclair, the plot introduces a two-year-long mystery which slowly unravels as more events come to light and as one becomes more acquainted with the characters. And the feeling the book left me with was surprising, given that I persisted in insisting that I felt detached from the characters as I was reading. Whether the book was written this way or whether I chose to remain detached until the truth was revealed at the end, I can't say. In the end, though, it turns out the lead characters did manage to find a small crack and lower my defenses. Because I will be thinking of them in the following days. The ending left me with that much.
The blessing and the curse of this book is the hype it's currently getting. It's a blessing, as many of us would never have come across it otherwise. It's a curse because the shock factor one is advised to expect is such that I can't imagine an ending shocking enough to satisfy this vehement promise. I was left with mixed feelings. The truth is I read this book with a friend, and I called the ending a little more than halfway through. I proceeded to dismiss it and attribute it to rampant speculation, but I called it nonetheless. It's not a resolution impossible to guess. It's not as shocking as I was told to expect. Having said that, was I left wide-eyed and staring into space for a good couple of minutes afterwards? Yes, I was.
In the end, it came down to two things for me: an intriguing plot, and a set of characters I found it hard to relate to. And when the plot is pitted against character likability, what ultimately tips the scale one way or another are the lessons learned.
And were there lessons to be learned when all is said and done? Were there ever.
"Be a little kinder than you have to be."
"Don't eat anything bigger than your ass."
"Do not accept an evil you can change."
"Never put material values before the values that are inextricably linked to loving and being loved."
GOODREADS: WE WERE LIARS
BOOK REVIEW: WE WERE LIARS BY E. LOCKHART
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub