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.
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But one thing did nag me a little in the back of my mind was that my Bookish Twin, Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books, LOVED it. I highly value her opinion when it comes to books, because we almost always agree. So when I happened to get my hands on the audiobook, I thought, “What the hell? I was supposed to read and review this anyway, right?” Let me tell you… WHOA.
***First off, I just wanna say that I don’t know how the print compares to the audio and that it’s possible I loved the book more than others because of the excellent job of the narrator. I can see how the fragmented sentences could be a pain to read, but this might be one of those cases where it sounds better out loud. That being said, I if you haven’t read this book, possibly check out the audio version first.***
Anyway, I was feeling very blasé about the first half. It felt like a really random story about a rich, white girl and her white girl problems, crying her white girl tears and I felt myself unsure about what the point of it all was.
And maybe that makes me sound extremely heartless, but I couldn’t relate to the main character (no, I’m not even going to tell you her name because I want you to go in blind). But somewhere along the lines, I started to become intrigued with the story because it became this strange, wild thing that I couldn’t piece together.
Lockhart uses a very odd narration with fragmented sentences and strange descriptions, but I thought it was beautiful and unique. It added a very creepy layer on top the the existing oddness. It makes you question the main character, her account of the incident and the entire book. She’s not very reliable and has the habit to cut off mid-sentence. I’m not sure if that was used as a way to distract the reader or if it was to used to make us question her sanity. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, it worked on me.
As things started to heat up and I reached the cusp of the climax, the narrator’s voice increased in intensity. She began talking faster, became very emotional, then suddenly on the verge of tears!
And I started thinking to myself, OH GOD NO. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
And then IT was revealed and I was all, “WHAT IS THIS LIFE? I REJECT EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS ENDING. NOOOOOOO!!!!”
So, naturally, I had a good cry and needed someone to hold me.
I know this review might not be the most helpful in the world, but it’s true what everyone says about We Were Liars. You should absolutely go in blind, with no expectations and let this book take your feels as it sees fit. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers like Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm and Strange or Complicit, than this one may be up your alley. I’ll be here to hold you when you’re finish.
The best way to read this book is to go in blind. The one thing that made this book enjoyable was not knowing too much about the plot and trying to piece together the puzzle pieces as the story went on. With this in mind- I am trying to make this review as vague as possible while still being specific.
What I loved the most- the large cast and dark and twisted fairy tale feel of the entire story. The fairy tale imagery gave the story a different feel and moved the story along. The writing- words cannot explain- it is beautiful and almost poetic,keeping readers completely intrigued.
We Were Liars is a great book to read with a bunch of friends- unravel the mysteries and have someone to talk to after you finish the last page.This is a perfect summer read, everything you could ask for wrapped up in one great novel!
What I loved:
The writing. Holy smokes. E. Lockhart does a fantastic job of creating a visual world. It's so hard for me to visualize books, but she does an amazing job at making me SEE her world.
The characters. Oh my goodness. Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. Right from the start I GOT Cadence's voice. I understood what she was saying. It wasn't easy to read at times, but I got it. I'm not sure what that says about me, but.... I adored Johnny and Mirren, two of Cady's cousins. I loved how they joked with each other and always backed each other up. Gat. Oh sweet Gat. He is a friend of the family, not a relative, but he is with the Sinclair's every summer. I loved his character and I really adored Cady and Gat's relationship. I would love to have the summers they have had growing up. This is not to say that their lives are easy by any means, but I've always wanted to spend the summer on some private island.
What left me wanting more:
I realized the plot twist in the book about half way through. It did not ruin the book for me, but I as I figured out where Ms. Lockhart was going with the book, I really took my time with it. I don't want to give away any spoilers because I don't want to ruin the book for anyone. This book was more "heavy" than I thought it would be and left me emotional.
Overall a great read and I highly recommend it!
So here’s the most non-spoilery summary I can give:
WE WERE LIARS is about a group of four teens (three cousins, one friend) who grow up spending their summers with their families on a private island. When they are fifteen, the narrator, Cady, has an accident. She hits her head and loses her memory, suffers a traumatic brain injury, and spends two years convalescing under the watchful eyes of her parents. She never can recall what happened to her, but she misses the island and begs to return. So when she is seventeen, she does.
Only this time, everything is different. And no one will tell her why.
This is a hard book to peg down. It’s not the suspenseful page-turner I thought it would be, given the back cover copy (although it is a speedy read). Nor is it the quiet literary fiction that it feels like in parts. It’s a mystery that doesn’t read like a mystery. It’s a modern story that feels vaguely historical because of the isolated setting (Internet, phones, cable all don’t seem to work on the island). It’s psychologically manipulative, but then again, maybe it’s not.
It’s an enigma. It defies categorization.
The prose is gorgeous, but detached. It took me a while to become completely engrossed in this book because I couldn’t emotionally connect with the narrator. I was always interested in the plot and wanted to see what happened; I just wasn’t invested until about the halfway point. (Take this with a grain of salt – I have many friends who were utterly riveted by page 1.)
That said, once I was in, I was all in. This book solidly staked its claim on the “There Were Tears” shelf in my brain, and let me tell you, that is a small shelf.
There are twists and red herrings galore in WE WERE LIARS, and whether or not you see them coming or find them satisfying is part of the draw of this book. I found it smart and well-executed and original, but I also was able to call some of the surprises early on. However, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.
This is a book you can only really discuss with others who have read it, and it’s one of very few books that I’ve heard people recommend even if they didn’t like it, just because they wanted to be able to talk about it. It’s well crafted, beautifully written, and unlike anything else I’ve read. It’ll leave you thinking for days (and, if you’re like me, you’ll flip back to the beginning and start reading again immediately after you finish, looking for the things you missed), and talking about it over dinner with your friends.
You know, the friends who read it because you made them read it because you just had to talk about it.
I will give you the disclaimer that this book isn’t one for people who need clear answers. There is a lot open for interpretation, and there is a very valid way of reading the book that could leave the reader in a pretty dark place. There’s also a more uplifting way to read, but if you prefer your endings unambiguously positive, this may not be the book for you.
That said, if you’re up for a ride into the twisting dark unknown, I hope you’ll give it a try.
In We Were Liars, the frame’s rather simple. Cady was in some sort of accident she cannot remember, and is spending her summer trying to figure out what happened on the Sinclair’s island two years before. Cady cannot remember what happened, even though she’s been told; her brain cannot handle what happened and continues to erase everything. Whatever it is, though, continues to affect her. Some impulse has her giving away even her most prized of possessions, and she’s swamped by loneliness because Johnny, Mirren, and Gat have not been supportive friends since her accident. In returning back to the island, she hopes to find her memories and discover the truth of why her friends abandoned her in her time of need.
The Sinclairs are upper crust, complete with fights over the inheritance, scandal, and all sorts of sordidness underneath the glamour. Cady’s the sort of girl who, though nearly an adult, continues to refer to her mother solely as “mummy.” She has no real conception of her privilege, and is shocked when Gat points it out. She feels charitable for giving away her things, but that still leaves her living a luxurious life. Lockhart really sells the character and makes Cady completely believable. At the same time, though, I didn’t particularly like Cady or find her all that compelling.
I loved the inclusion of Gat, a relative of one of Cady’s aunt’s boyfriend. Gat is Indian and not from a wealthy background. The two fall in love during their fifteenth summer and it’s completely sweet. For one thing, I love that he’s a POC. I also love that he drives her to consider her life in new ways, not in a man-splaining way, but by his sheer existence. She’s forced to recognize the racism in her grandfather’s attitude and the blithe unawareness that she herself has towards the circumstances of others.
My favorite aspect of We Were Liars are the fairy tales sprinkled throughout. As a way of processing her memories and conceptualizing, Cady composes these fairy tales of a king with three beautiful daughters. Though they start the same, they end differently, adapting with whatever new understanding she has. These were gorgeously written and more moving to me than the overall story.
What Left Me Wanting More:
My problem was that I didn’t really engage with the characters. I was consistently entertained but not emotionally drawn-in. Without that emotional connection, I was pretty much just waiting to see what the twist would be (it’s good and I didn’t see it coming though maybe should have?). Without an emotional tie, the ending lost much of its impact.
The Final Verdict:
If you bond emotionally with the characters, this book will crush you and you will love every moment of it. Aspects of the writing, which is almost poetic at times with mid-sentence line breaks, and Cady’s personality kept We Were Liars from really being a Christina book. I still urge you to try it, because, if it IS a YOU book, it will break your brain.
The narrators has great voice and is easy to follow aside from some memory issues. The secondary characters are so distinct I could almost visualize them. I was little thrown off by self-entitlement by the Aunties and wondered if that is realistic in families as wealthy as this family is.
The plot was wonderfully tragic and I honestly did not foresee the ending. I loved it! I hated it! I wanted to change it, but I knew it had to end the way it did. Awesome ending that I didn't want to happen.
The writing is lovely and I wanted to see if such an island existed. It was described so well, that I suddenly felt the need to fly out to the east coast. I need a new writing destination spot and this little island would be perfect.
Kuddos for writing an awesome book!
I will admit, there was a point about halfway through where this felt like just another rich girl, whining about her problems. It certainly took patience to begin to piece the clues together and see that there was a really important story to be told. There are a lot of characters to get straight and a lot of home names to put into place. There are actually three group of players on the island: the Liars (the older children), the Aunts and Grandfather, and the Littles. The Liars are the main characters, teens who have run of the island each summer. The Aunts constantly fight each other for the Grandfather's attention and bicker over belongings and homes. The Littles do not play a major role, but, when the book was over, I found myself thinking back to some of their actions in light of the new information which added some great depth and enjoyment. In fact, by the end, the reader realizes that there were clues from the very first page, we were just unable to see them in context without more information.
To be honest, this review is really difficult to write without giving away too much of the story, so I will probably stop there. We Were Liars is a beautiful, melancholy mystery that is beautiful in it's style and storytelling.
Well that is all I can say without spoiling anything. So if you haven't read this book, PLEASE GO AWAY AND READ IT!!! You will thank me later.
Now to the real SPOILER deal.
Right from the start we get such beautifully written prose when Cadence is setting up the story. Like when she states that her dad shot her, I literally thought he shot her until I realized it is a metaphor.
When we learn Gat has a girlfriend and Cadence starts acting a fool, I was so mad at Gat, I mean, what a selfish bastard. And then she goes and kisses him, like NOOOOO don't be stupid Cadence.
Cadence's mom.... I hate her. She mistreated Cadence so badly and was really just a selfish bitch. For example when Cadence is crying over Gran, she tells Cadence, "She made me act normal. Because I was. Because I could. She told me to breathe and sit up. And I did what she asked. Again." I mean... what a heartless mother.
Whenever Cadence was describing the metaphors, I was just so awed by how powerful and beautiful the metaphors were. Lockhart did an excellent job crafting them.
In general, the family was terrible. But that in itself is a better of how money doesn't necessary equivalent happiness. I found it awful how the sisters only wanted money and property and Grandad just strung them along cause he liked the feel of power.
When Bonnie is talking about Cadence's hair and she replies with, "It's okay, I don't actually care what you think, so it's perfectly okay." That made me sooo happy. She really needed to stick up for herself.
I absolutely loved the little stories Cadence made up about the king and the sisters. I feel like they really helped draw a picture of how awful the rich can be if they allow money and power to get to them.
When Cadence first started getting her memories back, I started freaking out cause I could see they were headed in a bad direction. So when she gets all her final memories back, I almost cried because I couldn't believe Mirren, Gat, and Johnny had been ghost/hallucinations or whatever the hell they were the whole time and died in the fire. That mentally f@cked me up. I still can't wrap my head around it.
Let's get one thing straight: I did not like this book.
Yes, I gave it a high rating, but to tell you the truth, this is not a book that you can like.
A book I like would not screw up my mind, confuse the hell out of me, and leave me crying in a QuickTrip parking lot. Point being: This is not an enjoyable read.
For the most part, this book is slow and a bit dull. I was curious all throughout the book, since I've heard so many thing about THAT ENDING and there was an aura of mystery, but not a whole lot happens.
But the writing in this book is beautiful. Some people hate the choppy style of writing (an example is shown in the synopsis), but I think it works brilliantly with the story, as our main character isn't exactly all there.
The turning point for me, though, was the ending. I cannot tell you the ending, it's much better if you go into this book without knowing anything, but the ending screwed me up. I was not expecting that ending, even though I look back and see that there are so many clues to it in the book! But it's not something that you would easily guess! The ending destroyed me, but it was beautiful, tragically so, but it was still beautiful.
I originally picked up this book because I heard so many things about the ending. In fact, I picked up this book just because of my curiosity. The ending screwed me up, yes, but I still believe this book to be unique and beautiful. I do think that people should pick up this book just to read the end, but I know that the ending will not have the same affect to others. You will either love this book thanks to the ending or completely hate it. It's all up to you.
This one is pretty complicated to discuss without spoiling anything. It's layered and shrouded in mystery.
The writing was solid. Each character had a voice that felt original. I found that the story had a steady pace, which made for a quick and easy read. If you are not a fan of flashback writing, stay away. We Were Liars is full of flashbacks.
I have to say that my absolute favorite part of this book was the ending. What a shock for me! I new it was heading in a direction different from what was expected, but I never expected what I got. My heart broke and I was left in open-mouth awe. I actually had to wait a day before starting a new book so I could process what I read. There were so many clues along the way that I overlooked. I had a lot of fun thinking back on the clues and putting them together.
This is a super fun read. I think it would make a great summer read.
So why did I loved We Were Liars?
1. The writing. I felt like I was bewitched by its writing and drew me in as I turned the pages. This is my first E. Lockhart book so I’m not really familiar how she writes but this was amazing. The construction and use of words effectively attracted my attention and curiosity. It was poetic and painted a vivid picture of the island as well as the scenes.
2. Suspense. I was blind when I read this so I advise you to go blind too. Sometimes when you’re told that you should go blind, you become guarded and could easily predict what happened but this one was different. I think it was one of the reasons why I was so floored and affected when I got into the revelation part.
3. Good pacing. This is the part when I mostly complain. Some books have fast pacing that made the chapters and scenes disconnected instead of having a good flow. When they’re slow, it tends to drag the story and losses my attention. In this case, We Were Liars was in the middle. It was kind of slow but it complimented the suspense of the story. But it was also fast enough to make me turn the pages and not to lose interest.
4. Characters. We all love when there’s growth and development in characters. Everyone, not just the Liars, went through a something because of what happened that summer and that led to some changes. (Of course there were changes. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t.) We Were Liars was written with flashbacks so we get to compare the characters pre and post incident side by side. Their personalities and what they did were also shown piece by piece so we get to know them little by little as the story progressed.
5. The ending. I never expected it when I decided to read the story but that ending made me cry. The revelation made me cry and how this story ended was simply stunning. With Lockhart’s amazing writing, it gave more feelings and impact. Perfect.. it was just perfect.
“My full name is Cadence Sinclair Eastman.
I suffer migraines. I do not suffer fools.
I like a twist of meaning.
I was on edge the whole time and was itching to uncover what happened. I know something happened and that something is big but when it was time for me to know the truth, it felt like I detonated a bomb. I don’t think I’d be able to explain more without spoiling something so trust me when I say that you should read this.
From the beginning, I knew that this book was going to be different. I hated the writing style. It was lyrical and it bored me. I thought the male love interest was a colossal jerk and I couldn't understand what Cady saw in him. Also I really didn't like Cady all that much. At times, I felt sympathy for her, but I never really warmed up to her the way I wanted to.
Through the first 70% of the book, I was bored. It seemed like the book was too long for not much to happen. Maybe it had to do with the insanely slow moving plot that only picked up in the last 30% of the book. Maybe it had to do with the characters. There seemed to be too many of them and not enough time was devoted to really developing them the way I would have liked.
Now the last 30% was like someone completely different wrote the book. The writing was less lyrical and more straightforward and the feels were there in a way that they hadn't been in the first seventy percent. It was like it was a totally new book. That was really disconcerting to me.This book lacked fluidity throughout.
I'll admit that in the last 30% I teared up. I didn't full on sob like a baby, but tears were produced. In the interest of not spoiling things, that's all I'll say about the ending. Oh and that things aren't always how they seem.
If I was rating just the first seventy percent of the book, it would get only one star. If I was rating just the last 30% of the book, it would be getting 4.5 stars. I'll average it out to three stars. I hated the first seven-tenths of the book but I loved the last three-tenths of the book.Overall I didn't hate the book, but I didn't love it either.However, I know many other people loved it, so some of you may as well.