Thursday, January 26, 2017

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

3.5 stars

“No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.”

This story went it came out was marketed as the biggest twist in YA literature of 2014. I remember everyone was losing their shit over it. I was, too. I squealed my heart when I was approved on Netgalley to read this book. Me? A small blogger with not a very big fan base who never reviews the books she requests. Case in point I read We Were Liars from September 2014 to August 2015. That’s a long time to read a book (more on that soon). It’s also January 2017!!! I’m a horrible reviewer. I give really in depth reviews, but I hardly review books on time. That’s just the way I am. I can’t help it and I say I’m going to change it, but I read books so quickly and after giving myself so much time to process this novel, I can give a completely unbiased review. Are all book reviews bias if they are written right after being read? Mine are. They used to be heavily biased. They are not anymore. I know a lot of readers who read a book and love it so much, but days, weeks, or months later they look back and say, MEH, it wasn’t as good as I wrote. Not all books are like this; in fact, a lot of the books I give 5 stars to will always be 5 star books. I am glad I waited so long upon reading this book to write a review. I was thrown into the hype parade. Did I like We Were Liars? Sure. Did I think it was too predictable and contrived? YEP. Did I like the writing? Yes.

“Suffer. You could say it means endure, but that’s not exactly right.”

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t told you anything about what this book is about and I won’t. Not because I’m trying to preserve the illusion of this great mystery, but because I honestly think if you want to read this novel then you won’t want to read a review that goes into the plot. You’ll want the surprise like I did.

This book starts out in a very confusing fashion and then it slowly begins to show how unreliable the narrator and the flowery prose is. Seriously, the prose is so set on being mysterious and evasive that at times it makes no sense with the illusions, metaphors, and imagery thrown about for the sake of creating an unreliable character. I LOVE unreliable narrators; they are my bread and butter. Books with unreliable narrators are going to get brownie points. I like We Were Liars a lot more because of the unreliable narrator, but it’s one of the only BIG factors that favor this novel. The see-saw of badassery is collapsing on the negatives this novel has to offer.
The writing is beautiful and lyrical. Once you get past the flowery crap, it really shines through in certain scenes, but this isn’t the best writing I’ve read. Lockhart is a strong writer and that’s obvious from her prose construction. One of the strongest things about this novel is the incorporation of fairy tales that mirror King Lear. I hadn’t read King Lear until a year after reading We Were Liars and immediately after reading King Lear, I thought to myself, “We Were Liars has a lot of similar concepts and themes.” That’s because it’s a King Lear retelling. Bravo, Lockhart. It was executed brilliantly. I loved that portion of the novel the most. It was the best part to read and I think that everyone should read King Lear before this or after because you’ll have a deeper appreciation for We Were Liars.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.25

“Life feels beautiful that day.
The four of us Liars, we have always been.
We always will be.”

The main heroine, Cady, is a very unreliable narrator. It’s obvious from the very beginning of the story that she isn’t able to dissociate fictional metaphors that exaggerate events from real life events. She’s really interesting, but I didn’t particularly like her. I couldn’t form an attachment to her and I think that’s because she felt disconnected from the real world. It’s as if she’s floating on another planet away from reality and she’s looking down into reality. I really like that aspect, but it also makes it hard to connect and empathize with this heroine.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3.25

“For a moment, the two of us were alone on the planet, with all the vastness of the sky and the future and the past spreading out around us.”

The relationship depicted in this novel is… ridiculous. Her love interest, Gat, is a complete douchecanoe. I have absolutely no clue why she is pawing after him. He doesn’t have any real interest in him and it seems like they are only having a relationship because it’s forbidden due to his foreign background and not being a real Sinclair. I just didn’t buy it. I wasn’t swooning. I was gagging.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2

The Villain- Let’s talk about the twist. This book was so heavily endorsed as having a big shocker. PLEASE, I predicted the twist in the first ten chapters. I almost quit reading this book because it was boring, but I wanted and NEEDED to know the twist. It was the only reason I kept reading this book. The suspense was there, but it was written to be suspenseful. I was forcing myself to keep flipping pages only to feel uninspired and completely let down. How is a twist supposed to inspire me? For starters, twists make you think. They enhance your ability to analyze situations, characters, and it makes you appreciate a good twist. Gillian Flynn for instance, has the best freaking twists. Sharp Objects- I was disturbed and shocked. Dark Places- one of the best incorporations of information briefly touched upon to make the whole story come around full circle. Gone Girl- my favorite suspense novel of all time because of how unreliable the narrators are. These are great twists because they force you to look from different angles. (Can you tell I watch a lot of the Investigative Discovery Network and SVU?) Again, while the plot twist was predictable, Lockhart moved me to tears. It was beautifully done. Lockhart is a strong writer, but she is not a suspense writer and when you stop thinking about the twists and just about the story alone there is a lot to be gained from it.

Plot Twist Scale: 3

The Sinclairs are a very enigmatic family. I was easily drawn into their web of power. It’s an interesting power struggle between each generation for approval. I really enjoyed the relationship between the Liars. It was incredibly well written and definitely felt like a real familial dynamic.

Character Scale: 4

Should you read this novel? I say yes. I think there’s a lot to be gained from this novel. It has good themes and if you are interested in reading more unreliable narrators then I recommend this. If you are a fan of unreliable narrators, you may enjoy this novel. There were parts I really enjoyed and parts I really didn’t. I do recommend this novel for the way the ending was written. It was so beautiful. If you have read this story then click on the spoiler below, but if you haven’t then this quote may ruin things for you. I would normally leave a quote like this out of my review, but I absolutely adore the passage.

“The eldest boy was strong and fast, capable, and handsome. Though it’s true, he was exceptionally short.
The next boy was studious and open-hearted. Though, it’s true he was an outsider.
And the girl was witty, generous, and ethical. Though it’s true, she felt powerless.
The witch, she was none of these things, for her parents had angered the fairies. No gifts were ever bestowed upon her.”

Plotastic Scale: 4

Cover Thoughts: I don’t really like the cover. If this book wasn’t so hyped up I wouldn’t have picked it up based on the cover. It’s just not something I really care for.

Thank you, Netgalley and Delacorte Press, for allowing me to read this novel for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Have you read We Were Liars? Did you love it, hate it, or was it a meh read for you? Let me know down below in the comments! I'm really interested to see everyone's thoughts on this book!


  1. I wasn't a fan of this, just something about the prose didn't click for me. I do love Lockhart's other books, so this was a surprise for me. But, glad to see you found a lot of promising aspects to this one! Great review!

    1. There were times when the prose didn't work for me as well, but I had more hits with the prose than misses. It is incredibly flowery! Thanks, Keertana!

  2. I wasn't a huge of this one but I remember having super high expectations because of the hype. Glad you enjoyed it overall though!

    1. I was a little disappointed, but overall I felt there were a lot of great things in this one! I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one! I hate when hype makes it hard to love things.

  3. I too remember when everyone was losing their shit over this book and its "shocking" twists. The more time that goes on and the more I hear about it the less convinced I am of it's shocking nature and edge of yoru seat suspense. It doesn't sound like I'll enjoy the romance either.

    I haven't entirely made up my mind if I'll read this yet. Maybe to just see what all the fuss was about but I expect to have the same thoughts you did

    1. It's not shocking at all. It was definitely a good marketing ploy because it got everyone to pick it up, but I think the only people shocked by it are people who don't watch crime shows or read crime novels.

      If you do decide to read, I hope you enjoy it!


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