on 25 June 2014
This is the second book I picked up because I saw it on so many top ten lists of great summer reads and the best books people have read this year. I truly wish I hadn’t. I did not like this book one little bit.
There’s a big twist, which I’ll try not to spoil but don’t read this review if you haven’t read the book.
The book is about Cadence (Cady) a rich WASP from a prominent family who spends every summer on her family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard. She has suffered a traumatic accident and cannot remember the details of her summer two years ago. She returns to the island and tries to put together the mystery surrounding her accident and her amnesia.
Cady assumes that she has been the victim of something horrific and this is causing her amnesia and awful migraines, but I inferred from the way everyone treats her that the amnesia is the result of her guilt and that she has perpetrated some great wrong. She is a truly horrible person, totally self-absorbed, full of self pity. She does not stop to question why her cousin Mirren is sick or learn the names of the family’s staff. She and the rest of her family are genuinely unpleasant.
Her mother and two aunts argue over who should inherit what. Her grandfather manipulates everyone to tell him how great he is by holding the inheritance over them. Everyone is cold and repressed and peculiar and ungrateful. I did not like any of them.
I really didn’t like Cady’s narration. The tone is melancholic and full of self pity and at the same time frantic and desperate. It also switches between past and present tense, which I don’t like. The frantic, choppy narration does make it a very quick read. It only took me 4 hours to finish, even though I wasn’t enjoying it.
The book is packed with allegories and really over the top imagery. For example, in the first couple of pages Cady’s father leaves the family and she describes him picking up a gun a shooting her on the front lawn. I read it and thought ‘wow, that’s not the turn I expected this story to take’, before I realised that it was metaphorical. I know that teenagers over-exaggerate and feel things so much more deeply, but the constant reference to Cady bleeding everywhere when she is talking about mental pain are overly melodramatic and jarring. To be honest I think I would have preferred to read the book where Cady’s father actually shot her!
I cannot for the life of me understand why so many people have rated this book so highly. Yes, it has a dramatic twist, but that is a cheap device. This is just a YA version of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, and I didn’t like that either. I wish I could have the four hours and £2 I spent on this book back and spend them both on a better read!
on 27 August 2014
Dreadful book. Couldn't finish it. Pointless and boring. I wish I never wasted my money and bought something else instead.
on 19 May 2014
I took part in the #LiarsLiveRead on Twitter and have storified my reactions here - [...]
To summarise, I think whether you work out what is going on or not you will enjoy this book.
A contemporary coming of age mystery - you know something is not quite right with the Sinclair family. The whole book contributes to this, layers of lies, fragmented prose, intense and dramatic metaphors, fairytale metaphors. As a writer I was mesmerised by the clever way the story was structured.
This book deserves more than one read and that's no lie.
on 6 September 2015
I went into reading this book with high hopes. It was terri;e. ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. Terribly cliche, could see every "twist" coming. Quite frankly pure disappointment. The characters, were annoying and bland, yet I persisted, because I want to like it. Alas, even on the final page, did not come. The author tries to be some deep, philosophical, oh teenage angst, and it fails. It ends up being nothing new. If you were considering this by its blurb, try "between" by Jessica Warman.
If I had the chance I would return this book if I could - no doubt going to a charity shop.
Cady is one of a group of privileged teenagers whose families have always summered together on an island owned by the family With her cousins and a local young man they form their own group, the Liars, when around them the adults squabble about the past, the present and future legacies. They come together because feel neglected. The story is told from the present day when Cady returns to the island after what has obviously been an horrific experience the previous summer leaving her shocked and disfigured, although the details are not clear to the reader. She tells of the Liars' attempts to make sense of what has happened and also reveals the story of the previous summer piece by piece. The whole story is told through Cady's eyes.
This is a Young Adult book which can be read as an adult. Although there is some element of first love there is not that emotional concentration on it that you see in books like "Twilight". This is a coming of age story as Cady has to cope with some horrific events without teh wholehearted support of her family - she really only has the Liars. The way the book works we only really become aware of exactly what has happened towards the end of the book. This can be a dangerous tactic from an author in that the reader can be very frustrated but I think that it is well done here and I hadn't actually anticipated the whole story which was a surprise to me when it was revealed.
On occasion I did think that the book emphasised what was going to be revealed a little too much as it did build tension but took the attention away from the present day story. That would be a pity as this is well told with a lyrical style which is ideally fitted to the content matter. This is a short novel but it contains plenty of emotion and it is at times sad and tender - it is not suited to very young adults in my opinion. I enjoyed it a lot.
on 1 May 2016
Read this review along with others on my blog @ libroliv.com
Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars
We Were Liars is a love story, a simple ode from girl to boy illustrating mistakes, regrets, and the things she loves most about him. That's how the book starts out, anyway.
We Were Liars is a contradiction, a mixture of ideas and memories, past and present.
It's difficult to know where to start with this review, because the book itself doesn't have a set beginning. We're thrown up and down a time-scale, unsure as to whether memories are the present or the present is a memory. If anything, it's easy to say that E. Lockhart portrayed this novel in an interesting way, and Cadence's story (the protagonist) was very unique.
Whilst I sometimes struggled to gauge when events were happening, I would definitely say such switches added to both the effect and the beauty of the story.
Likewise, the pace of this book was great - chapters came in differing lengths, short bursts of information, and longer bursts of memories or events. For me, short chapters are a God-send; I just love being able to race through a novel.
Also, E Lockhart's writing style is beautiful, and I resent not coming across her work before now. Sometimes I forgot I was reading prose due to such poetic and figurative moments. Cadence was attentive to her surroundings, and other people, an aspect of narrators I really enjoy.
On the other hand, I would say that there were too many characters, and if it weren't for the family tree in the front of the book - which I kept flicking back to - I would never have understood this book at all. Honestly, I hate it when there's too many characters, especially if all of them are in the foreground - it takes away from my interest in what's actually happening, and instead sends me into the depths of my poor memory, trying to recollect who the character speaking actually is. This really just takes away from the novel, and is probably one of my biggest bookish pet peeves.
Similarly, I don't think the characters were unique enough, so much so that it was even more difficult to discern one from the other. I would say only 1 character had any striking qualities, and that would be Gat, and that would only be because Cadence spoke of him so vigilantly. (I didn't really like Gat, so I wasn't really happy about this.)
Another unfortunate thing I have to say is that this book definitely did not live up to the hype. Everyone was in love with this book in 2015, and that made it so much worse when I didn't see it as amazing at all.
The legendary plot twist? It just fell flat.
Granted, I wasn't expecting it, but I wasn't at all overwhelmed by it.
Overall, whilst this book had some good factors, it just didn't live up to my expectations, explaining as to why I awarded it 3.5/5 stars. I do, however, think it would make a great movie.
on 9 April 2016
I know this was quite a hyped up book when it came out, but I missed all that as I was still at uni and not really reading much, outside of research books (can’t imagine that now!) When I saw this free on iBooks I thought I’d pick it up and give it a go.
There’s been a lot said about the writing style, as it is kind of disjointed/laid out strangely. I have to say, I didn’t really notice this. I read it on the Kindle app on my phone, which makes the layout a bit strange sometimes anyway. It also happens a lot with review e-books, which I’ve read a lot of lately, so I just didn’t notice the difference. Maybe it would have had more of an effect on me if I’d read this in paperback. The pacing was also a little odd and it did take me a while to get into it: it felt like things didn’t really kick off until Summer Seventeen, which was part three of the book.
Cady, the main character, wasn’t particularly likeable, but I quite like that in a protagonist. I love flawed characters, and while she was irritating and selfish to me sometimes, I still enjoyed reading her story. She was also the most fleshed out of the characters – I felt the other Liars (and no, I don’t know why they are called that, which is irritating) were all a bit 2D and didn’t really feel like real people.
As for the plot twist – which I won’t reveal, of course – I was a little let down by it all. It feels like quite a cliche, and I just feel I’ve read that kind of story before. I started getting suspicious about half way through as to what was going on, and when those suspicions were confirmed I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. It’s probably due to the hype around it, which isn’t the books fault, but it just meant I was expecting something spectacular, and it didn’t live up to that.
Despite being disappointed, I did enjoy this book: it was easy to read and I flew through it, and can see why other (possibly less skeptical) readers would appreciate it.
on 29 March 2016
I wanted to read this book so much because I had seen a lot of positive reviews for it and there was quite a big hype. I was also a bit anxious, but as soon as my friend gave it to me for Christmas, I started reading it straight away. I am glad I did!
The first thing I noticed about it was the style of writing, which was different to me. It was nice enough, but sometimes it felt a little dry because it was so simplistic. It was straightforward and not very embellished, so sometimes it was almost poetic. It certainly made the story even more unique.
The idea of this book is that the main character has been through something traumatising and needs to remember it. It made me think of the book Silver Linings Playbook. If you liked that one you might like this.
The four main characters, who call themselves the Liars were nice enough. I didn’t feel a deep rooted connection to any of them because for some reason the writer keeps us distant. We don't connect to them because we never sink really deep into knowing them. It was enough to keep me reading through the fairly slow paced beginning until I got to the plot twist everyone was talking about.
Although I did love this book in the end, the most shameful thing is that I had to wait till the end to love it. I wasn't feeling the romance in this one at all because it was so non existent and flimsy. I basically ignored the romance altogether. And the rest of the story was okay - but it wasn't wonderful.
So how did I give this one a four star rating?
The ending had this amazing plot twist, which makes it hard to review this without spoiling it. I will admit that it is not predictable at all, so when it hits you, you’ll be shocked. It was good, surprising, and then things I didn’t even know were out of place suddenly fell into place. The author does a brilliant job of leaving clues throughout the whole book, and once you know of them you can read it again and go OH in all the places she mentions them! But beforehand... they were all incredibly invisible to me.
The only reason his got four of five stars is that I wish I didn’t need to wait so long for the plot twist to come. I know some readers might’ve lost interest by then. But not us ones who like to endure :D
This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe:[...]
on 7 March 2016
I have the absolute worst habit of after reading the first few pages of the book, I then put my bookmark in, go to the ending and read the last few sentences or paragraph. Normally this has never been a problem for me as the ending hardly ever gave anything away but this time, Lockhart managed to tell me the whole story in the last two sentences. I then ended up knowing exactly what had happened and didn't get the series of shock normally a reader might when they got to the end. It was unfortunately, no surprise for me.
So that's my main downsider, maybe I've learnt my lesson, maybe I haven't.
After reading several other reviews I discovered people had problems with the writing style. At the start, I LOVED LOVED LOVED the writing style, I love fragmented language which cuts from one scene to the other in a blink. But this fragment wasn't like this and honestly it did get annoying for me as I went through the book because
it seemed to be
like this in every
At the start I thought there was some hidden meaning or effect to it but later did I learn that the writing style was totally random and not intended to bring out anything in the reader.
Aside from this, the book didn't deserve as many negative reviews as it got, the characters were charming, the main character is who I had the most connection with, the dark things she went through, her experiences of pain, how she handled it, it reminded me of my own and the best feeling is knowing that there is a concept of your pain somewhere out there, you do not go through it alone, there's people who feel the way you do!
I guess the connection with the characters is why I'd give this book 5 stars, but then I take 0.5 stars out for the writing style.
It could be better, just a little.
At the end of the book on the back cover I read about a review from a newspaper saying that the ending will make you go back to the first page and you'd want to find out how you could miss it.
But I promise you, if you read really closely, and read a bit harder, you can't miss it.
on 12 February 2016
I have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of E. Lockhart – I wish her Ruby Oliver series had been around when I was a teenager. I think it would have made my adolescence a lot easier. As things are they have clarified various confusing situations which I have found myself in during my twenties. E. Lockhart is a wise, wise woman. We Were Liars seems to be something of a breakthrough novel for her, heavily promoted within bookshops and getting prominent placements rather than simply waiting for the prospective reader to stumble over it in the Young Adult section. Naturally, I was intrigued. We Were Liars proved once again that E. Lockhart is a gifted writer but rather than the zippy adventures of Ruby Oliver, we have instead this harrowing and rather beautiful tale that packs a real emotional sucker punch.
Cadence is the eldest grandchild of the old-money Sinclair family. In Cady’s words, ‘Our smiles are wide, our chins square and our tennis serves aggressive.’ Each summer the three daughters convene on their private island with their children and the cousins grow up together in a golden idyll. The Sinclairs are so rich that nobody mentions money, no one is a criminal, no one is an addict, no one fails. No one is needy. No one is wrong. Of course, all that glitters is not gold.
Chief of the family is ‘Granddad’, old-time Democrat and King Lear figure, demanding the unconditional loyalty and obedience of his three daughters and their children, sitting back and enjoying his own power. As the daughters’ marriages crumble and the children grow, enmities simmer beneath the surface. The liars of the title refers to the four eldest grandchildren, Cadence herself (Penny’s only daughter), Mirren (Aunt Bess’ daughter) and then Johnny (Aunt Carrie’s oldest boy) with changeling Gat Patil, nephew to Aunt Carrie’s boyfriend Ed. All of an age, Cadence, Mirren, Johnny and Gat have grown up together and at first one thinks that this is going to be a standard young adult coming-of-age story. It isn’t.
As the novel begins, Cady is nearly eighteen and she used to be pretty but now she isn’t. Not since the accident. At fifteen, after having fallen in love with Gat, Cady had an accident which led to her being found by the shore in her underwear with a serious head injury. Her memory of that summer is filled with gaps and ever since she has relied on painkillers and other assorted drugs to get through the day and survive the migraines. Two summers on, she is finally returning to the island and hoping to clear up what happened to her and what has caused her amnesia. The novel begins to seem ever so very slightly The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What is behind the family’s strange behaviour? What is it that people won’t talk to her about? There is a real sense that Cady is being pitied, her previously overbearing Granddad visits her and gives her three flowers, telling her ‘You should have three’. Cady is angry with the world but not sure what she is really furious about.
As soon as I had finished We Were Liars, I flicked right back to the beginning and restarted it. Then I couldn’t complete it because it was all too much. I can feel tears starting again when I think about it. Cady isn’t perfect – Gat becomes frustrated that the Sinclairs fail to understand how privileged they are, pointing out that everyone is rich and white ‘except for Ginny and Paulo’. Cady has no idea who Ginny and Paulo are – they are the staff. Cady has been coming to the island since babyhood but they have never reached her notice. Yet still, Cady has a good heart and the love that the liars have for each other lifts the novel as well as really making its final conclusion almost unspeakable. Mirren broke my heart as she quietly assured Cady that what had happened was ‘tolerable’ and then as the four of them together tried to come up with inspirational mottoes, Mirren advised Cady to ‘be a little kinder than you have to be.’ We Were Liars has the same snappy dialogue and quick-witted prose that made me love Ruby Oliver but has a real depth to its narrative. The four Liars have learnt to challenge the world they grew up in like heroes from folklore challenging the king but the consequences of their rebellion are severe. So I recommend this book … but you’re going to need to remember the title.