When a book generates as much hype as We Were Liars by E.Lockhart has, it can sometimes be a struggle to both read and review. You’re always wondering, whilst reading it, if it’s going to live up to its reputation, and then when it comes to reviewing it, you wonder if there’s anything that has been left unsaid! As it turned out, it (almost) completely lived up to the hype for me, so I’m going to give reviewing it a go!
Cadence Sinclair has grown up as the oldest grandchild of a privileged, wealthy family. Every year they spend the summer on their own private island, and she has grown up with her cousins, a group of four called the Liars. Cadence, Johnny and Mirren are the grandchildren of the family patriarch, and Gat, who completes the quartet, is the nephew of a long since departed uncle. Gat remains a part of the summer holidaying group, and he and Cadence fall in love. The main part of the story takes place over summer seventeen; Cadence is returning to the island after having suffered an accident two years previously. She can’t remember the details of the accident, but it has left her with severe headaches, and she spends the summer with her family, gradually piecing together what happened to her in summer fifteen.
I struggled with We Were Liars to begin with. I had snapped it up as a 99p bargain in the Kindle store (it’s currently still available at that price), and as I started reading it, I wasn’t enamoured with Lockhart’s writing style. Some of the metaphors and imagery just seemed to be a little over the top, and had ‘PLEASE QUOTE ME ON TUMBLR’ written all over them.
“He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.”
This seems to be the quote; the one that Lockhart wants teenagers take away and use and scribble on their pencil cases and tweet. These were my thoughts as I started reading it; I just couldn’t get on board with the writing.
But, having read the first couple of chapters and set it aside, the following day it was all over Twitter as the subject of a #bookadayuk prompt. A couple of people I like and trust when it comes to books were saying it was great, so I thought I’d try a little harder. I’m glad I did, because I ended up really enjoying it. I must have either got used to the writing style, or got over my qualms, because I allowed myself to be completely pulled in by the story and the characters. The Liars, Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat, are incredibly well written, fully rounded characters.
The climax of the book is teased a lot in the promotional material, so much so that I ended up almost guessing how it would end. Although I would have preferred to have been kept completely in the dark, I don’t think it detracted too much from my enjoyment of it. I had a fairly visceral reaction to it, which I wasn’t expecting. The entire book leads the reader up to a point, and then reveals its secrets, culminating in a very powerful ending. I found myself flicking back through the book after I finished, something I think anyone who has read it will understand!
It’s of no surprise to me that We Were Liars has been optioned for a film already. Everything about it screams movie adaptation, and as long as they get it right, I think it could be great.
We Were Liars
First published: May 2014
Hot Key Books