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.
Before I begin this review, I’d like to tell you about one thing I hate and one thing I love. I know this sounds weird, but I promise that it will make more sense once you’ve read the rest of this post.
I hate: Writing negative reviews. I want to like every book I read, every movie/TV show I watch. But sometimes, I just can’t find much to like about a particular story. Ugh
I love: E. Lockhart’s books! She’s written a bunch and I’ve read nearly all of them. They’re AMAZING and INCREDIBLY WELL-WRITTEN… usually. When I heard that she was publishing a new book, We Were Liars, I was soooooooooo excited.
After reading it, I was soooooooo disappointed.
All right, time for the review. I will discuss the stuff I disliked, of course, but I think I’ll start with the one great aspect of this book. I’m trying to be as positive as possible here. (Let’s see if that actually works…)
The cover is absolutely freaking GORGEOUS.
I love it so much! It’s like half the reason I was so excited to read this book! It’s wonderfully blurry and summery and just… perfect.
(I’m still not sure why only three people are shown on the cover, though. There are four Liars! Oh, well.)
The writing style was… odd and disjointed.
Scattered throughout the book are many passages that
because odd spacing totally
book cooler, right?
RRRRGH. It didn’t work! This technique definitely works in free verse poetry, and I’ve read some really good books that were told entirely in free verse. But I just don’t think that mixing prose with poetry works. It doesn’t flow.
I didn’t think that the narrator, Cadence, was all that brilliant.
The book’s blurb claims that she is, but… what happened to the writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell?” SHOW ME what makes Cadence brilliant. I mean, I thought Gat – the “passionate, political boy” of the blurb – was dull too, but at least his description makes sense. He is passionate and political.
I can’t think of any particular brilliant things that Cadence did. In fact, the entire story – and the twist at the end – revolved around how she screws up so much.
To be honest, she was… um… well, I know this sounds really mean, but she was so dull that I forgot her name. I had to google it for this review. That can’t be a good sign.
I mean, sure, there was a MASSIVE AND VAGUELY SAD PLOT TWIST at the end and I totally didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t CARE that it happened. The author didn’t make me care enough about Cadence to care what happened to her.
The romantic subplot was “terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.”
(Bonus points if you can tell me what book that quote is from! Hint: It’s a picture book…)
I HATE it when authors put two characters into a romantic relationship simply because A) one’s a girl, B) one’s a guy, and C) they’re approximately the same age.
[Bangs head against desk] Those are NOT the requirements for a good fictional romantic relationship. You need some other ingredients… such as romantic “chemistry.” I did not see any chemistry between Cadence and Gat. There were no sparks between them. Their scenes together were so mediocre, so poorly written that I either started laughing at the ridiculously boring-ness of it all, or I wanted to slam the book shut and throw it across the room without finishing it.
And that’s very rare for me. I finish ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the books I start, even if I don’t like them – and I rarely even think about giving up and not finishing one.
Gosh, I feel crueler than Cinderella’s evil stepmother and evil stepsisters combined right now. But… gah. As I said above, I’ve read nearly everything E. Lockhart has ever written. I thought I knew what I was in for when I picked up We Were Liars. Evidently not. This novel is more like what I’d expect from a new author, not an established one.
If you’d like to try E. Lockhart’s books, I will jump up and down excitedly like a hyper fangirl, and shove a whole stack of them into your arms. But not We Were Liars. No, I’d choose Dramarama or The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks instead.
If you take away only one thing from this review, let it be: Try her earlier books; they’re so much better.