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 New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
What I Liked
Writing style is dramatic and poetic. It is interesting how emotions are described in this book: “Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed.” (Note: No one got shot here, literally, that is.)
I love how quotable this book is. Some of my favourites: “Be a little kinder than you have to.” “Do not accept an evil you can change.”
The complex family dynamics and how this affects the children.
The ending. I did NOT see that coming. However, in retrospect, there were little hints planted throughout the initial chapters of the book, so the revelation towards the end makes sense. I love books with meaningful plot twists that take me by surprise.
What I Didn’t Like
Despite how short this book is, the pacing is slow. There are moments where I wanted to skip forward in the story for something to happen. It didn’t feel like a thriller until about the last 20% of the book.
Although I liked the characters overall, the main character is an unreliable narrator, and this makes it hard to relate to her as the story progressed. It was difficult to like the adults in this book.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars
Despite the slow spacing, the finale of We Were Liars will have you turning the pages. The beautiful writing style enchanted me from beginning to end.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.
What I Liked
The main characters, who are polar opposites of each other:
- There is Rebecca, who is a feisty, strong-willed, independent woman. Even though she is already dead at the beginning of the novel, her presence dominates the story.
- Then there is the narrator of this story, who is quiet, subdued and seeks approval from her husband and her servants. She is haunted by the idea of Rebecca, her husband’s late wife, who is said to be beautiful, charming, and perfect in every way. The narrator tries to emulate Rebecca, living in her shadow. We all know the name of Rebecca, who is brilliant, gorgeous, and dead, but the narrator of this story is unnamed.
The writing is gorgeous. I love the imagery, which conveys the setting and the feel of the scene so seamlessly. I love how we can follow the narrator’s train of thought easily, how we can understand each of her actions. So many quotable parts of this book: “If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
An interesting plot twist towards the end of the novel. Initially I was not fond of the narrator’s reaction to this event, however, it seems like there is a deeper literary meaning to this as well.
Usually, I associate classics with being slow-paced and super long. However this one was quite easy to read! The beginning hooked me with the beautiful and lyrical writing style, and the second half kept me on the edge of my seat.
Underneath the story is a subtle discussion of the female gender role in marriage and in society. Despite this being an older novel, I was glad to see a strong female character who is fearless and independent (Rebecca herself).
What I Didn’t Like
The secondary characters are believable and human, however I don’t find them relatable, as much as I do our narrator.
The Bottom Line: 5/5
Rebecca is a classic for a good reason: The lyrical writing and suspenseful story-telling will keep you hooked from beginning to end.
How do you feel about unreliable narrators? Which classic book(s) did you enjoy?
Last but not least, be sure to join my giveaway before Sunday March 31st! I will announce the winner on April 2nd. Click here for more details!