Book Reviews, YA Contemporary, Young Adult

Review – ‘We Were Liars’ – E. Lockhart


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Rating: ★★★★

Writing a review about this book is nearly impossible when you don’t want to give away the plot. As the title of the book suggests, every character in this book is a liar, and when not even the protagonist Cadence Sinclair knows the truth, it makes the eventual revelation even more shocking. I didn’t want to put this book down when I picked it up, and neither will you.

Cadence’s life has been marked by the summers she has spent with her family on their private island, and particularly the tight friendships she has with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and an outsider, Gat. However, after a mysterious accident one summer incites some kind of mental breakdown and fractures through the Sinclair family, Cadence spends the following summers trying to piece together what happened. It’s best if I don’t go into the plot anymore, because the twists and turns that author Lockhart has written are genuinely surprising, and the truth is worse than you would expect from a ‘young adult’ novel.

91cMHG1mVaLApart from the shocking plot itself, the best thing about this novel was the characters. Normally, a story about a rich family and their self-pitying youth isn’t the type of story I am interested in, but Lockhart managed to make this about so much more. In particular, Cadence’s guilt about being set to inherit so much money and her gradual understanding that her family are not only selfish but racist as well felt honest and took the book to new depths. The style of Lockhart’s writings also helped a great deal in making the characters interesting to read, with lines such as “I suffer migraines. I do not suffer fools.’ showing the characters’ depth and personality simply and quickly.

On the other hand, despite the ‘big reveal’ being a brilliant twist, the aftermath of it was a bit of a letdown. There was no emotional reaction to follow the initial gasp. I reread the passage a few times, but for such an exciting build-up, I was hoping to see Cadence’s character react a little more strongly, and we barely saw any of the family members’ reactions. There were also some unfinished questions, like why anyone would think leaving a mentally scarred teenager alone to piece together such a traumatic incident.

I wouldn’t have picked up this book if I hadn’t heard so many positive comments about it, so I’ve learned my lesson. I usually avoid Young Adult fiction, but We Were Liars definitely impressed me. It didn’t go down the usual love triangle or forbidden love route like most books of its type, in fact, the romance was minimal and definitely not the main storyline. The characters were not likable, but they did feel genuine, and the plot was a real surprise. So if you’re looking for a quick and exciting read, this is definitely a book to try.