Have you ever seen that movie or read that book that everyone was talking about, but nobody would actually say anything about? I’m talking about books and movies with A Twist. All you know is that there’s a twist coming, but nobody will say much because they don’t want to spoil it. And then you read it, and despite knowing it’s coming, you’re still totally shocked by The Twist. Well, I just read that book.
What I Just Read: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
What’s It About (Jacket Description): 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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Did I Like It: I thought this was a really fantastic book, and it had an intense emotional and mental effect on me. But I’m not sure that “liked” is exactly the right word, since it also kind of destroyed me.
Thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect going into this. Initially, I avoided We Were Liars because I wasn’t sure how I felt about a private island full of over-privileged people. But I kept hearing how great the book was, how it had this big twist, and since nobody was saying much beyond that, I got super curious. So naturally, I spent most of the book trying to figure out the twist. Wondering what it could be, what secrets the narrator Cadence’s faulty memory and migraines were hiding, what it was that nobody else in the book would talk about.
I did not figure it out.
I know some readers have, and I don’t know if that would have made a difference in how I felt about the book, but I had no idea what was coming. Which made the big reveal impact me just that much more. The best words I can come up with for it are “gut punch.” Apparently when I got to that part of the book, my jaw literally dropped. There was definitely an extreme emotional response. This book, and this twist, definitely got to me in a big sort of way.
So that’s the twist. But there is a little more to say about this book than that! The characters are, yes, over-privileged and on a private island. But all of them, especially the Liars, still manage to be interesting and complex. The writing and story itself has almost a fairy tale quality, though a very dark fairy tale, and echoes of King Lear abound. The fairy tale and King Lear qualities are helped along by the snippets of retellings that Cadence intersperses with her narration. It lends everything an almost mythic quality, and keeps the mystery and tension from getting overwhelming, while still enhancing the story. I don’t want to say more for fear of the dreaded spoiler, but I’ll finish with this: We Were Liars got under my skin in a very big way – and that’s not something I can say about every book I read.