Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
Read: May 12 - 13, 2014
Published: May 13, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: ALA (Thank You, Random House!)
Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

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.


BEFORE reading: In my mind, I equated We Were Liars to being something like The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I was also convinced I wasn't going to like it, so I went in with very low expectations. Not because of my preconceived literary comparison, but because of the very mixed reactions I'd seen. 

AFTER reading: Surprise. Surprise.

Surprise #1: I really liked this! I was shocked at how well it worked for me. Also, I wasn't totally wrong with The Secret History comparison. I mean it's not that story at all, but both books center around wealthy New England youth who deal in twisty lies, scheming and shenanigans. In fact, this story invoked the spirit of some of the classics I've read featuring powerful, destructive families and class issues. Brideshead Revisited was also mentioned in passing through the course of the narrative. And there's a film that's different from those, which I also thought of while reading this book, especially towards the end when I figured out what was happening. But it's a spoiler, so I will refrain from mentioning it.

Surprise #2: Even though I guessed the big reveal, I still liked this. Watching the pieces come together just heightened my experience with this story. However, I do wish everyone wasn't talking about the fact that this book centers around a a big THING you're not supposed to talk about. Because I don't think I would have guessed if I'd gone into the book more organically, and hadn't known to be looking for it. 

What I loved so much about We Were Liars is the broken, hazy feel to the story, set off by the short sentences, the poetic vivid imagery, Cadence's missing memories and the fact that we know so little about the characters - only their summer selves. And only what Cadence remembers and chooses to share with us. This is not a character driven story, and I've seen complaints of people not connecting to the players, but this all worked to heighten the creepy mystery atmosphere. After working at an overnight camp for a few summers as a teen, I can definitely relate to the idea of a separate summer life. Like your summer self is not reality. Or it is somehow more vivid, and who you really are. 

Some elements in this story are far fetched and I can see where knowing the characters better would have made connections and motives stronger and more relatable, but that didn't bother me while reading. And I can see where those things also might have taken away from the atmosphere created by the prose and storytelling, which I quite liked. This book is clever, beautifully tragic, and riveting. I encourage you to pick it up and experience it for yourself. The only way you'll really know what you think about 
We Were Liars is to read it for yourself. 

Love Triangle Factor: None 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


  1. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this book, Lauren. I struggled with the writing style and unlike other readers it didn't grab me. I feel like a bit of a black sheep because everyone else loved it. I definitely need to give the book another shot just to make sure I'm not missing out.
    Lovely review, Lauren!

  2. Ooooo I'm liking the sound of this one Lauren! I don't mind when I guess the big reveal, sometimes I'm so proud of myself for doing so (I'm usually miserable at that sort of thing) that it makes the book even better for me. I'm a dork, I know :) Definitely looking forward to this book now!!!!

  3. While I'm terrible about correctly guessing the twist or turns of stories, I do appreciate when I can think back about how everything came together and really *see* it (and then I have to smack myself on the head because I probably should have figured it out). I definitely need to read this one, particularly for the "poetic vivid imagery". :)

  4. Man, this book is EVERYWHERE. I guess I'm going to have to break down and read my copy. But I'm scared. I didn't really like the last (and only) E. Lockhart book I read. And I'm always complaining about the predictability in stories, so I'm worried about that, as well. But seeing that you enjoyed it gives me hope.

  5. I had no interest in reading this book when I first came across it, but all these positive reviews have definitely got me to change my mind. I'm very curious about what this big secret THING is that everything keeps mentioning. And I've liked this author's writing style in the past, so I'm hoping it will work for me here too. :) Great review, Lauren!

  6. I love the setting and the writing but I just could not get attracted to the characters . So I gave it 2.5/5 stars . I'm happy it worked for you

  7. i'm glad this one just worked for you Lauren, unfortunetly for me this one just didn't. I liked the premise and went into it thinking i'd like it but i quickly realized this one just wasn't for me. I didn't like the narrative and couldn't connect with the main character. I felt like the relationships in this book felt a bit forced for me and stiff and somethings were just too far fetched for me :( I totally wish I had loved this one more but i just coudln't *sigh*
    I'm happy this one worked out for you though, Lauren
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  8. Aw, amazing review Lauren :D I'm so glad you managed to mostly love this book. <3 That is awesome. I am curious about it, to be honest. But I want to know the "big secret" before I start it, lol. So yeah. It makes me very happy that you enjoyed it :D Hopefully I will too. <3 And yay for no triangle, lol :)

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Lauren! I simply couldn't connect with the characters for some reason and the ultimate reveal just fell flat for me. I don't enjoy stories with unreliable narrators too often and it felt as if Lockhart was hinting at societal issues of wealth and discrimination without fully driving forward a point. It wasn't as intriguing and problem-attacking as The Disreputable History but nor was it as honest and amusing as her Ruby Oliver books and, somehow, this just didn't work at all for me. :/ I really wanted to love it, but maybe Lockhart's next novel will work better. Wonderful review, regardless.

  10. The general consensus definitely seems to be that it's better to go into this story with little knowledge/few expectations. I'm trying to do just that, but it's hard with so many reviews getting posted recently! Still, though, I feel like I don't know much of anything about the story. I've been fortunate to have read reviews like yours that really don't give much away. I haven't heard of either Brideshead Revisited or The Secret History and I don't want to click on the links now in case they give something away through comparison. But I'll have to return and look them up after I've read this novel.
    I'm really enjoying how vague reviews for this have been - it's been such a long time since newly published or upcoming stories have been kept so under wraps. Can't wait to experience this one for myself. :)

  11. Clever, beautifully tragic, and riveting…that sounds good to me. Most of the reviews that I've read for this have been positive, so I'm sure I'll end up reading it. I remember loving The Secret History. Great review! ~Pam

  12. I'm glad We Were Liars wound up working for you, Lauren! I do like the idea of "summer selves", and agree that it is definitely something I feel exists in real life. While I do wish I'd had a smidge more of a connection with these characters, I did really like the way this was written. It was very jarring, especially with the unreliability of Cady's narration.

  13. Beautiful review! I also loved the hazy narrative, the strange connections, although I think I connected with the characters more than some other reviewers. My brain tends to read between the lines a lot. I actually went into this book knowing very little beyond the blurb; I think it was perfect, because I had NO FREAKING IDEA when the "thing" came to be.

    Now I'm really curious what movie you're talking about. :P

    Sarcasm & Lemons


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