we were liars // book review


Title/Author: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: 13th May 2014
Format/Pages: Paperback, 227 pages
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars
Where To Find: GoodreadsThe Book Depository

Synposis: 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. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE (pulled from Goodreads).

* This is an old review which is being transferred to my current blog, originally written in January 2015, and therefore may not fully reflect my current reviewing technique

We Were Liars is a prime example of why sometimes you just have to push your way through the very first chapters to uncover the beauty beneath. I understand the initial turn-off people have with this short novel; I empathise with the annoyances of whiny rich kids, too, who I am all to familiar with. These characters are so much more than that, though. They’re emotive and – alright, yes, spoilt – but the characters and their riches are so sincerely critiqued throughout that I think it would be a poor job to give up on this or be turned away from it. Truly, it is worth the read.

I don’t care how badly you beg, I am not going to ruin the plot of Lockhart’s latest YA contemporary as much as I want to run and scream it from the rooftops because—holding my hands up—this plot twist had me sobbing into my pillow at one o’clock in the morning. Sobbing. I began reading this on the bus coming home from college and, later that night, I picked it back up and took a Snapchat of it. A friend quickly replied to me, asking if it was any good and ‘was it worth buying?’. At the time I laughed and sent back “I’m only thirty pages in give me time!!”. That was at 10pm. By 1.15am I had sent another message, reading “holy fuck you need to buy this oh my god!”. When he replied in the morning it came with an incredulous “you read it already?!?!” because yes—it was that good. I read it in a matter of five-or-so hours.

What at first seemed like a #richkidsproblems plot with whiny, wealthy white teenagers and the token Indian boy quickly became much more than that, the entire accident of Summer Fifteen shrouded in amnesiac mystery, suspense and buckets of moral ambiguity. From other reviews I’ve seen of the book, many guessed at the big reveal towards the end but I am quiet glad to say that I didn’t—not even for a moment—suspect what had actually happened. You might figure it out if you read it for yourself, but I think half of the journey is coming to those few lines and being so uncomprehendingly speechless that you honestly have to just put the book down for a moment and scream. It’s that mind-blowing.

I could go on and talk about the great characterisation in this book, or the excellent racial and social commentaries throughout, but I don’t want to, because I don’t want to reveal any more than I already have done about this novel. It’s best to go in completely blind-sighted, like I did, and let the story carry you itself, lest the effect be ruined.

They were Liars, and nobody is lying when they say this book is a must read. Which is why I’ve awarded Lockhart’s We Were Liars 5 stars on my rating system. I was blown away with the suspenseful, engaging plot and the way in which Lockhart didn’t shy away from the nastier, problematic sides to humankind.

Favourite Quote: “There is not even a Scrabble word for how bad I feel.” – Cady Sinclair Eastman
Favourite Parts:
 Unreliable narrator(!!!). Cuddledown. Gat. Ivory elephants. The fire. Yellow cummerbund. Fairytale interruptions. Racial commentary.
Least Favourite Parts: The initially whiny rich kids. Harris Sinclair. The Aunts.
Would Recommend To: Anyone who likes books that I do. Lovers of contemporary teenage suspense. Non-whiny rich kids. Those who enjoy a more free-verse style of writing to traditional prose.

 – jess, xo


4 thoughts on “we were liars // book review

  1. Summer @ Xingsings

    This is a read where I’ve had friends love or hate after finishing it, so I’m kind of hesitant to pick it up. Great review though, I really love how you broke to down in the end with your favorite parts/quotes!


    • chroniccacti

      thank you! honestly yes I think it is very much an either ‘love it or hate it’ type book which purely depends on your tastes and the overall enjoyment you get from it. it’s short though, and you could probably get a feel for whether or not you’d like it after an hour or so of reading—worth a try, I think 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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