Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #65: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #65: We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte BFYR on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

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.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Recommended by: Blythe (Finding Bliss in Books)

One of the hallmarks of truly great artists, I think, is the pushing of boundaries and leaving of comfort zones. We Were Liars is a departure from the comedic snarkiness of Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series, which I binge read last year. When I was offered a copy of the ARC months ago, it was honestly one of my most exciting blogging moments. Waiting until now to read it was painful, but I managed due to my slavish devotion to schedule. Now that I’ve read We Were Liars, I’m not really sure how to feel. It’s dark, simple, complex, lyrical, and I understand the hype, but I’m also not totally in love with it as I’d hoped to be.

In We Were Liars, the frame’s rather simple. Cady was in some sort of accident she cannot remember, and is spending her summer trying to figure out what happened on the Sinclair’s island two years before. Cady cannot remember what happened, even though she’s been told; her brain cannot handle what happened and continues to erase everything. Whatever it is, though, continues to affect her. Some impulse has her giving away even her most prized of possessions, and she’s swamped by loneliness because Johnny, Mirren, and Gat have not been supportive friends since her accident. In returning back to the island, she hopes to find her memories and discover the truth of why her friends abandoned her in her time of need.

The Sinclairs are upper crust, complete with fights over the inheritance, scandal, and all sorts of sordidness underneath the glamour. Cady’s the sort of girl who, though nearly an adult, continues to refer to her mother solely as “mummy.” She has no real conception of her privilege, and is shocked when Gat points it out. She feels charitable for giving away her things, but that still leaves her living a luxurious life. Lockhart really sells the character and makes Cady completely believable. At the same time, though, I didn’t particularly like Cady or find her all that compelling.

I loved the inclusion of Gat, a relative of one of Cady’s aunt’s boyfriend. Gat is Indian and not from a wealthy background. The two fall in love during their fifteenth summer and it’s completely sweet. For one thing, I love that he’s a POC. I also love that he drives her to consider her life in new ways, not in a man-splaining way, but by his sheer existence. She’s forced to recognize the racism in her grandfather’s attitude and the blithe unawareness that she herself has towards the circumstances of others.

My favorite aspect of We Were Liars are the fairy tales sprinkled throughout. As a way of processing her memories and conceptualizing, Cady composes these fairy tales of a king with three beautiful daughters. Though they start the same, they end differently, adapting with whatever new understanding she has. These were gorgeously written and more moving to me than the overall story.

My problem was that I didn’t really engage with the characters. I was consistently entertained but not emotionally drawn-in. Without that emotional connection, I was pretty much just waiting to see what the twist would be (it’s good and I didn’t see it coming though maybe should have?). Without an emotional tie, the ending lost much of its impact.

If you bond emotionally with the characters, this book will crush you and you will love every moment of it. Aspects of the writing, which is almost poetic at times with mid-sentence line breaks, and Cady’s personality kept We Were Liars from really being a Christina book. I still urge you to try it, because, if it IS a YOU book, it will break your brain.

Favorite Quote:

My full name is Cadence Sinclair Eastman.

I suffer migraines. I do not suffer fools.

I like a twist of meaning.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Gossip Girl what was real

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16 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #65: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart”

  1. This is one of those books that I totally understand why people both love it and hate it. I did love the fairy-tale aura of this book, but I also really loved the ending. I do agree that the reader doesn’t have much of an emotional tie to the characters, but that didn’t stop me from bawling.
    -Scott Reads It!
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  2. fakesteph says:

    This is probably the book I’m most excited for in all of 2014, and I really, really think that it will be my kind of book. I’m way more excited now, even though it wasn’t really for you.
    fakesteph recently posted…Sundays In Bed With… Dear Killer, etc.My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      If I remember right, I think you’re a bit more plot-based than I am, so I think you will love it, indeed!

  3. I have been so excited to read this – I don’t have an ARC, so have to wait until the pub date. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t meet your expectations…and am now a tad less excited about it.

    • Christina Franke says:

      This one’s going to be excellent for plot-based readers. If you’re a fan of more ornate writing styles and heavily character-based like I am, it might not be a five star book, but I’d still recommend trying it, despite my mixed feelings.

  4. I didn’t connect to the characters emotionally either, but I so rarely read “mystery” that this whole story completely blew my mind and sucked me in. I didn’t see that ending coming at all – I swear my jaw was on the floor.

    I really loved the fairy tales as well. Especially how they showed the condition of the family as the story goes along.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I didn’t see the ending coming either, though I think it was set up pretty well. At the same time, I just don’t care what happens to people if I don’t care ABOUT those people. but I’m very character-focused as a reader, and most people aren’t like that.

      The fairy tales were my favorite part by far.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I was pretty indifferent to this one as well (I gave it 2.5 though) and I also think it was because of the lack of emotional connect too. I totally didn’t see that ending coming either but still failed to resonate.
    Bonnie recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of April 21st, 2014My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I shilly-shallied between 2.5 and 3 stars myself, but decided to bump it to the 3. I truly loved the fairy tales, and I thought it was an interesting read, despite my lack of engagement. The 2.5 instinct was I think mostly my disappointment/expectations. I wish I could have loved it, but *sighs*.

  6. I haven’t read this book, or anything by Lockhart, but reviews have me so intrigued! Even if I’m not emotionally involved, I hope the mystery will be enough to suck me in. I really want to know what the twist is. Plus, the poetic writing, the fairy tales, and Gat all sound like my thing. 🙂
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  7. Roro says:

    I could not connect with the characters sadly but I liked it anyway
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  8. Contemporaries are usually not my cup of tea but Nicole loved this one and I am seeing high praise for it. It was nice to read your review and some different thoughts on it! I am not sure if it is going to be that five star read for me, I fear I may not connect with the characters.
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…April 2014 RecapMy Profile

  9. Brandy says:

    I had a hard time connecting with the characters too. Any that weren’t Cady that is because I did see the end coming. There’s something else about the end that made me not love it as well as I could have too. But it’s nice to see I’m not the only one not gushing over with all out love for this. It’s nice not to be all alone.
    Brandy recently posted…We Were Liars (Some Thoughts)My Profile

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