Justine Larbalestier – Liar
113. Liar by Justine Larbalestier (2009)
Liar will be published in the U.S. on 29 September 2009 by Bloomsbury; you can pre-order your copy from Amazon.
Length: 376 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Started: 15 September 2009
Finished: 15 September 2009
Where did it come from? Sent by the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? Bloomsbury sent a pamphlet with the first few chapters (they’re short – two or three pages each) along with another book I was reviewing for them (Oathbreaker, I think), and it was intriguing and well-written enough to make me want to read the rest it.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 03 September 2009.
Verdict? Keeper; half of the fun of unreliable narrator books is reading the whole thing over once you know (or think you know) the ending.
Here’s a question for
you: What if she lied about
being a liar?
Summary: Micah Wilkins lies. All the time. About everything. She spent the first two days of freshman year pretending she was a boy, and most of the school believes that her father is an arms dealer. Her classmates alternate between distrust, scorn, and ignoring her, which is fine – that’s how she likes it. However, when her sort-of-but-not-really boyfriend Zach is found dead, the whispers start: Liar. Freak. Slut. Killer. But when she’s been lying for so long, how can she possibly hope to convince anyone of the truth… if she’s even capable of telling it.
Review: This might possibly be the hardest book review I’ve ever written. I can’t give a proper summary of more than the first few chapters without giving something crucial away. I can’t talk in any specifics about what I liked and didn’t like about the book, because so much of the fun of it is unraveling the various layers for yourself. I can, however, say that I read the entire 376 pages in one afternoon, almost in one straight shot. I was enjoying the book from the beginning, and when we got to the point where the first lie – the first big lie, anyways – was revealed, even though part of me was thinking “…really??”, it was a good enough hook to suck me straight into the pages, compulsively turning pages, determined to find out where it all was going. And the thing was, I say it was from the time the first big lie was revealed, but even that’s blurring the truth a little… since we’re never 100% sure if that was when the first big lie was revealed, or when it was created.
That’s the fascinating thing this book pulls off, the constant wrong-footing of the reader, the constant second- and third-guessing of everything single thing that’s said. I’ve read a few unreliable narrator books before, but never one in which the narrator is so honest about her dishonesty. (Heh.) Liar does a lot of other things well, too: Micah’s voice, whether or not she’s lying to us, was perfectly pitched to the rhythms and thought patterns of a 17-year-old girl. It also deals with issues of death and grief and loss in a way that felt painfully authentic. There were a few things it didn’t do so well, too; there were some elements that were brought up but never fully fleshed out, a few revelations weren’t given quite long enough to sink in before they were yanked away again, and the ending felt a little bit rushed. Plus I never quite shook the feeling of “…really??”; although, in the final analysis, that might have worked to the book’s advantage. But all in all, it was a very compelling and thoroughly unique read. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Gah. I can’t even do a recommendation without having to dance around spoilers. Okay, here’s the thing: if you even think you might like this book, stop reading this, don’t read another thing, do NOT look at the tag cloud, don’t pay too much attention to the Amazon page, just go get it and read it. I feel like this book would lose a lot of its impact by knowing what’s coming ahead of time, so if YA novels and/or unreliable narrators are your thing, or if you just think it looks intriguing, I’d recommend sooner rather than later. And then once you have, come back, and we’ll chat. :)
Other Reviews: Addicted to Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Bib-Laura-graphy, The BookBind, A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, The Compulsive Reader, Librarilly Blond, The LibrariYAn, Reading Rants!, Reading Rocks, The YA YA YAs
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: I was born with a light covering of fur.
Cover Thoughts: There was a metric ton of (much-deserved) kerfluffle surrounding this cover, and the fact that the original US design had a white girl on it, when Micah is black. But you know what? Actually reading the book has effectively wiped all of that out of my mind. Does this cover give any indication of what the book’s about? Well, marginally better than it did when the girl was white, I guess, but on the whole, no, not at all. And that, for once, is totally okay by me.