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.