Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Format: Kindle Edition
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.
That’s right, friends. I had to make a new rating category for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I don’t like it. And what exactly does “shrug” mean in terms of a book review? It’s kind of like “meh” or “uummmm” with a bit of a vague, non-committal hand gesture thrown in for good measure.
Because here’s the deal. We Were Liars wasn’t bad. It wouldn’t win any awards if I were the judge, but it also isn’t a read that made me want to pull my hair out and question why anyone would ever publish such nonsense. I really, truly, honestly didn’t have trouble reading Lockhart’s novel at all. And I liked the characters, who were fun and interesting and believable. I liked the family dynamic and the idea of this rich group living on a private island every summer, their houses becoming their own little worlds for a handful of weeks.
My problem with We Were Liars was the predictability of the story. I saw the ending coming from a mile away, and that made it less exciting. The supposed “mystery” of what happened to Cadence was overplayed and stiff, and that made it a lot easier to sigh in boredom more often than I ever gasped in surprise. I will admit, however, that I didn’t see exactly how it all ending coming, which was a bit thrilling. And I think Lockhart hinted at the ending well in Cadence’s flashbacks as she regains her memory well, and when the mystery of We Were Liars is solved, all of those flashes make sense.
I will say that I absolutely love the fairytales that Cadence makes up during the book. They reveal more about her thoughts as a character than any other part of the book, and they were all beautifully written. I could have read 227 pages of just those sections alone.
On the bright side, We Were Liars has been optioned for a movie and I think that it’s the perfect way to tell this story. Seeing Cadence and her tale come to life on the big screen, or any screen for that matter, is just what a mystery such as this needs. There won’t be written, narrated clues to hint at endings, the visuals have the potential to be so much more stunning, and the characters will have the opportunity to truly come to life, unlike they did within the pages of We Were Liars. There’s just something about this novel that needs to be seen, and not just read.
So, back to the shrug. I didn’t love We Were Liars. I’ll admit to that. But I didn’t hate it either, and I think this book has to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Not one reader will feel exactly the same about this book, unlike fans of mega hits like, for instance, Twilight or Harry Potter. So I’m going to give We Were Liars a “meh” with some vague hand gestures and tell you to grab a copy and find out for yourself.