Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: We Were Liars

Premise: Four teens, part of a wealthy American family, spend every summer on the family's own island. They are the best of friends. Then, the summer when they are 15, something happens. Cadence isn't sure what it was... but she was discovered half-naked in the ocean with no memory of the event. Two years later she hasn't heard from her cousins and she's freaking out. Now she is dedicated to figuring out what happened.

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Content Appropriate For: Grades 9-12
Format: Digital ARC provided by Random House Children's via NetGalley

Three adjectives that describe this book: mysterious, intriguing, strange

This book is definitely getting a lot of buzz right now. And this might be a case where the buzz actually hurts the book. The author makes it clear right up front that there is a big twist at the end... and the buzz is confirming that.

The problem with that tactic is that the reader is on the look-out for the twist from the very beginning. You spend the first three-fourths waiting for it and feeling frustrated that it isn't there yet. And when it comes, it might not be quite as effective because all you can think is, "Oh! That's the twist."

But the twist really did surprise me. I knew it was coming, but I was still surprised. So I guess that's something. When I finished We Were Liars I was thinking, "5 stars!" The ending packs a powerful punch.

But then I remembered the choppy writing style. 4 stars?
And that only the protagonist was developed beyond simple caricatures. 3.5 stars?
And that the first three-fourths was so slow.... 3 stars?

So let's try some pros and cons -

* A pretty good twist
* Interesting and honest take on the wealthy, white, American trust-fund culture
* Cool re-imagining of fairy tales sprinkled throughout
* The ending is powerful

* Little plot
* Little character development
* Choppy writing style
* Confusing shifts between the past and present

Overall, I have to rate this book as just barely average. Sheesh. That was hard!

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