Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book cover of We Were Liars by E Lockhart

I don’t read contemporary YA. To put this in context, in the last nine years, I have read 963 books for pleasure. Of these, nine were contemporary YA and of those, I actually finished five of them. I even finished The Fault in Our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines, so I’m hardly picky! It’s just not my thing. I didn’t like teenagers when I was one, so they’re hardly likely to have grown on me now that I’m a decade more irritable. The point is, a book of this genre has to be pretty special to make me want to read it, finish it and then actually want to talk about it in a review. I give you – We Were Liars.

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.
Bex made me read this. Well, no, she didn’t. But she wrote a post about it when I was bored, and lonely, and near a bookshop, so really she might as well have held a gun to my head, right? 
I actually really liked this book when I started it, even though there’s not much (at first) to set it aside from lots of other YA novels out there. Cadence Sinclair and her family visit their private island every Summer. We jump into the story at about Summer Fourteen and everything is pretty much normal. You meet the characters, get a little background and slope around the beach with them for a while. It’s still an interesting story and I got quite into it. More to the point, this book has a teenage relationship and I did not hate it.
But then we jump into Summer Fifteen and it all starts to go a bit wrong. With the plot, I mean. The book is still great. Cadence has had an accident… only she doesn’t quite remember what that was. She knows that she has horrendous migraines and is now living the life of an invalid, but everything else about that summer is just gone from her memory.
The rest of the book features Cady during Summer Seventeen as she tries to unravel the mystery of what exactly happened to her and I promise you that it’s not what you think. I’m struggling here because a lot of what I want to talk about is very spoilery. There’s a twist and I have very mixed feelings about it, but this is definitely a book where the less you know going in, the better the book will be.
Let’s see if I can dance on the line of vague yet explanatory. When the twist first begins to unravel, it’s great. I texted Bex in capital letters just because I had to talk to someone about what had just been revealed. I loved where it was going as I completely hadn’t seen it coming and it was perfect. But then I think it almost went a little too far? It seemed to twist one time too many and then it just seemed a little silly. To give credit to Ms Lockhart, it took me completely by surprise (*cough* although that might be because it makes absolutely zero sense *coughs*) and it would be interesting to reread the book knowing what I do now.
It wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me, but the point of this book is the GASP!ending. I know it sounds like I didn’t like We Were Liars, when I actually really did, but you’re kept in suspense for an entire book and then it doesn’t quite pay off. I got on board with a slightly preachy protagonist because she accepts her own flaws. The secondary characters aren’t very fleshed out, but she only sees them once a year – maybe they’re written that way on purpose. It tries too hard to be arty, but hey, that’s fine. Arty is nice. SEE!? I GOT ON BOARD WITH THIS BOOK. And then I was ever-so-slightly let down.
Bex is going to murder me.
Read her review at An Armchair by the Sea here.

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