Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I’m sitting down to write this review and I cannot reconcile in my head whether I absolutely despised this book or I think it is effing genius. That makes writing a review really hard. I don’t think I’ve had such a strong reaction to a book in a while and, due to the nature of the book, I can’t reveal a whole lot to explain to you why I did.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier is told in the first person. Our narrator, Micah, is a liar — a compulsive, pathological liar. Right off the bat, she says she isn’t going to lie to us but that seed of an unreliable narrator is already planted in our mind and continues to grow when throughout the story Micah will tell us one thing and then minutes later tell us that what she just told us was a lie. The basic plot of the story is interesting enough. Micah’s boyfriend is found brutally murdered and her tangled web of lies starts to make her a suspect amongst her peers. The story shifts through the past and the present as we learn about the present investigation of Zach’s death, her family history, her and Zach’s relationship and some of the big lies she’s told in the past.

Rather than try to sort out my extremely complicated feelings about this novel I’m just going to tell you the things about it that made me 1) really dislike it and 2) make me think it was genius

Why I Really Disliked It:

True story, if it didn’t take me so darn long to load audiobooks on to my Ipod I would have not finished this one. But, truth be told, I have a sucky commute and needed an audiobook.. So, firstly Micah is really irritating and very hard to like or relate to. I mean, we are all liars, yes, but she was the Gold Medalist of Lying About Crazy and Stupid Things. I’ve LOVED books with main characters I’ve hated, so that’s not a dealbreaker for me. I just couldn’t STAND being in Micah’s head anymore and had to curb any and all urges to drive my car off the road so I could NOT hear her anymore.  But the biggest thing for me was the HUGE BIG PLOT TWIST that I won’t spoil..because, well I just don’t even know what to say about it. When the big “reveal” happens halfway through the book (which I was quite enjoying the book before this point despite not liking Micah in the least), I audibly in my car said WTF and I emphasis on the F. In the scope of the story, you are sitting there like “Oh dear LAWD, this has to be a lie” but then this thread of the story keeps going through the rest of the book so, like everything else Micah tells you, it becomes hard to discern if it’s a big lie or if it’s the truth. It changed the book for me. It was like biting into a cupcake and it taste like pizza or something. Not necessarily bad but dammit, I wanted a cupcake! Basically if you hate the plot twist, like I did, it made the rest of the novel prettttyy unbearable.

Why I Thought It Was Genius:

I always find books with unreliable narrators interesting and some are better than others. The author turned Micah into the ultimate unreliable narrator because Micah admits freely to being a liar and she strings you along and then admits to different lies just within what she has already told you. It’s fascinating! You find yourself never feeling sure of what is the truth and when you think you have the “answers”…you just don’t.  The twist that happens really changes what you even thought this book WAS. And while I didn’t like what the twist was at all, I thought it was written well, considering it could be kind of cheesy. I also thought it was genius as it challenged your notions of what KIND of book this was and actually becomes quite thought-provoking on a larger scale.


Final Thought: This is definitely not a book for everybody. If you hate unreliable narrators, back away. If you don’t mind taken for an uncertain ride that might drive you crazy, give it a try! I can’t say this was a great book for me but it was certainly memorable and there are so many layers to it. Like I said, I can’t figure out if I really hate it or if I thought it was brilliant. I certainly didn’t enjoy the ride as others might have but I can appreciate what she did.

Review On A Post-It
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. Jamie Ridenhour says:

    This makes me really want to read the book, actually. I love unreliable narrators (Remains of the Day is a favorite).

    Do you know about the controversy over the original cover?

  2. I love unreliable narrators as well! Will have to pick up Remains of the Day! For some reason, this narrator just irritated me. More so for me I just didn't like the big twist that become the focus of the book after that. It just…bored me and annoyed me lol. Let me know if you do read it!! I'd lOVE to talk about it with someone!

    And yes, I heard something about the cover…something about whitewashing? I didn't know too much about it but had heard a little bit. I'm glad they changed it!

  3. Jamie Ridenhour says:

    I've got a few others on my to-read list, but will probably pick this one up. The low down on the cover is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/aug/10/bloomsbury-book-cover-race-row

    Good to meet you–I read your reviews, but just haven't commented until now.

  4. Helen's Book Blog says:

    I really liked this book when I read it last year. I loved that I wasn't sure what was true and what wasn't!

  5. ****SPOILERS****

    I felt that way at first..I really did. I thought it was sooo interesting to read it not knowing what was true. Until the BIG thing that happened. That whole plot line just KILLED it for me. I just hated it lol Maybe if it would have stayed contemporary I would have enjoyed the guessing but I just couldn't stomach the whole thing.

    Give her points for shocking the hell out of me though with the twist! lol. Glad you enjoyed it more than I did!

  6. Thanks for the link! And thanks for commenting :) Hope to see you around again!!

  7. The idea sounds cool, like you don't know what's true and what's not. Although I bet the main character would probably really annoy me. I read one of Larbalestier's other novels a couple years ago and was not a huge fan. Great review! ;)

    -Meredith

  8. I think this book would be an interesting read, especially since it left you with strong mixed feelings about it. For that alone, I'm curious enough to check it out :)

  9. I have no clue whether I'd enjoy this book or not… the premise sounds intriguing, but I really hate a lame plot twist. I think I'm just as confused as you are now!

  10. Andrea @ Cozy Up says:

    This sounds interesting, I can see both your points, I don't know how I would feel about this book, but the idea of the horrible plot twist kind of turns me off. I'm definitely confused as to whether I should pick this up or not…

  11. I would say this book is def not for me.. For the simple fact that I can't read a book if I hate the main character. I like to be confused to an extent, but I will completely lose interest in this a few chapters in, I'm sure. lol.

    LoL, at the cupcake reference. Can you imagine? ugh.. I like pizza, but if I bit into a cupcake that tasted like pizza, I'd be seriously pissed.

  12. If you are giving points for uniqueness — this one get's high marks. I really liked it. I love WTF moments in books — I really don't get those very often. Yes, it ticked me off, but hey, it evoked strong emotions, so it can't be all bad….a difficult book to review without spoilers, and you did a great job!

  13. Jen - Devourer of Books says:

    It seems like this one wouldn't work quite as well in audio as in print. I loved it, but then the huge WTF moment didn't bother me (although it really, really, really surprised me).

  14. Katie DeKoster says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of this one. I didn't even end up reviewing it b/c I just didn't care for it at all. That being said, I like Larbalestier was incredibly creative to come up with such a unique concept! Have you read Lenore's Liar review? It is hilarious!
    http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-review-liar-by-justine.html

  15. I hated it, lol

  16. Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    WOW. I'm not sure whether to grab it right away or erase it from my memory forever. You've got my interest up, though, doggone it. So I'm sure I'm gonna have to at least check it out. Crazy how that happens…YOU'RE not sure whether or not you like a book and I'M now dying to know more about it. Crazy!!

    <3

  17. Wowzers. Looks good and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a WHILE! The fact is really makes you contemplate about whether you enjoyed it or not. The fact it makes you really sit down and think, utterly, makes this a good book for me and I think I really might have to take it down and sit down on a rainy day and read it. You’ve made it peak my interest and, may I say, tickle my fancy.

    Audio? Hmmm, I never thought about it, but maybe It’d be a bit complicated when your narrator is constantly lying to you.

    The world may never know.

  18. Okayy…this sounds really interesting! I really want to read it now just to find out the ‘HUGE BIG PLOT TWIST’! :)

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