Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review - Liar by Justine Larbalestier


Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Year: 2009
Page: 384
Genre: Fiction - Young Adult

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Don't know... she said this book is very different to her other books...
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? New York, US (though the author is Australian)
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

First Sentence:
I was born with a light covering of fur.

Why did I pick this book?
I became aware of this book when I read about the cover controversy on different blogs (it originally had a Caucasian girl on the cover, when book said she was half African American/half Caucasian), and thought the premise sounds interesting.

My thoughts:
  • Have you ever finished a book, and wanted to toss it across the room? This hardly ever happened to me, but that was exactly how I felt after I was done. The start of this book was so promising (I finished it in one day) but the ending frustrated me so much that I'm giving it 1 star only!

  • A lot of reviews said they like her writing style, but to me, it sounded more like rambling. But I suppose, since the book was written in first person as a 17 year-old girl, that could just be her personality... but I thought this book could well be shorter

  • After the whole book cover controversy, I still think the revised cover didn't really capture Micah (the protagonist) - apart from looking bi-racial, how Micah was described in the book simply didn't match up with the cover (I don't want to explain how they differed - but if you read it, you'd know what I mean)

  • Now - if the ending was different (if it ended the way I'd hope it ended - and nope, that doesn't necessarily mean happy endings, in fact, I usually prefer non-happy endings...), I probably would've given this book 4-4.5 stars. AFTER YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK, YOU CAN COME BACK TO THIS REVIEW AND WE CAN DISCUSS!! :)

  • Interesting tidbit I found from Normal Public Library Teens: Justine Larbalestier is married to Scott Westerfeld, writer of the Uglies and Midnighters trilogies! I have read Uglies, and enjoyed that (may read the rest of the series)

  • It's hard to talk about this book (or explain why I got so frustrated with it) without giving away spoilers - so, SPOILERS ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't read the review below if you don't want to know what happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Now supposedly there is this big twist in the book that many people were saying "OMG"! (that Micah said she's a werewolf, p170) - while I didn't guess it, I didn't think it was that big of a deal, so this wasn't what got me frustrated. In fact, I thought they way the she explained the whole werewolf story with menstruation, and how guys couldn't change without girls were kinda interesting, that it could actually be plausible

  • I also don't get the whole attraction among Micah, Sarah and Tayshawn? How did that add to the story? I understood they were all grieving, but huh?

  • What frustrated me was that there was no ending!!! It was way ambiguous. So did she lie about being a werewolf? Did she kill anybody and if so whom? How did she get back to the city from the farm if she had no money? Why did her parents treat her the way they did? How did the brother die or did she really have a brother? Who is Pete? There were so many questions, with no answers... I seriously had no idea what the message the author was trying to send... maybe I'm too dense

  • So, since we could google, I found that the author actually had a spoiler thread on her on website where people could speculate what happened - and WOW, how did they come up with all these theories?!?! The mental institution / sexual identities / multiple personality theories seemed to make sense... normally I'd probably re-read to see what I missed, BUT, the author wrote the following when answering some questions about the book (on her website):

    Q: Can you tell me what really happens at the end of Liar?

    A: No. I deliberately wrote the book to be read in at least two different ways, which means that there is no one ending, and thus no way I can tell you what really happens. You’re on your own.


    Mel: How much do you know that the reader doesn’t? I mean, I know you’re not going to tell us whether Jordan was real, or whether Micah is really a wolf, or where she ends up at the end — but are all the answers clear to you?

    Q: You know even if I did know I would not tell you because admitting that I do know is just an invitation for people to bug me to tell them the truth. Thus I will tell you that I have no idea. Which I don’t. Trust me!

    So, what would be the point to re-read when there is no answer? She also said there will be no sequel, so I am not about to waste my time to re-read and speculate what might have happened when I would never know the truth anyway! So I felt like I wasted my time reading a book without an ending - it's like reading a murder/mystery without knowing who the killer was... now I know that in real life, we don't always have answers, that there are many cold murder cases... but this is fiction! I don't even care that the protagonist betrayed the reader's trust by lying, since well, she was a liar, but I just don't like having no solutions to a puzzle (no answers to crossword puzzle? no solution to some IQ problems?)

  • Had the author included an epilogue or author's note or something to wrap it all up to tie up the loose ends, this book would have been much, much better. It'd definitely give the a-ha! moment (remember The Sixth Sense?) So, it's not worthwhile to invest my time to re-read, when I have so many other books waiting for me. Which is a shame, as it'd have been worth a re-read just to spot the clues! It would have been clever

  • It reminded me of another book I read, Life Sentences: A Novel by Laura Lippman. Now, that book did have an ending, but there was this BIG SECRET that was supposed to be so important that just disappeared in the end, making me think "Huh? Did I miss something? Why was it such a big deal?" So of course I googled again (what would I do without the internet!) to try to find some spoilers and I was not alone thinking so! At that time (I read this book about 8 months ago), the only link I found was the author commenting in a Barnes & Nobles discussion board - she didn't give the answer, but said she will if people were interested... I checked back a couple of times and didn't see an update, and gave up. After reading Liar, I thought of it, and decided to google again, and found out she explained the big secrecy on her facebook page! (if you are interested... my question was about Aubrey.) See? It would have made the book that much better if she had just explained it in the book... instead, the book just felt unfinished.

  • Okay, < end > venting < / end >!

*** Spoilers Ended! ***


    You may also like these books:
    I haven't read any of these books - but on the author's website, people asked if there were other books like Liar, and here are some suggestions - I may read some just to see if I'd like them better!

    • If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
    • I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
    • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    • Letters from the Inside from John Marsden

    (Actually, I'd read Letters from the Inside when I was in High School... but I seriously don't remember what happened... I remember liking it back then, but don't recall how it is similar to Liar)

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
    I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading
    Young Adult


    1. I liked the fact that you get to choose for yourself if what Micah was telling you throughout the book was the actual truth. She admits right up front that she is a liar, so can you really believe her when she says she is telling you the truth? Because you have an unreliable narrator I thought the ambiguous ending worked, though, I'm a fan of endings that leave you hanging a bit. Despite this, I think there are some things that could have been done better. It's definitely a book I wish I had someone to talk about with when I finished it. Great review, I understand your frustration.

    2. I haven't read the book but I've read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and it was pretty darned creepy. It doesn't sound like they'd compare. I'm first in line for Liar at PBS, when I go off vacation (which I'm on because my husband has totally blocked off the swap shelf -- I can't get to my books!!!). I'll have to give it some thought. I don't like the fact that the author says even she doesn't know how it ends. That's just flat stupid, in my humble opinion.

    3. Oh thanks for reviewing this so honest! All you had so say was "I finished it and wanted to toss it across the room". I get so mad when that happens. I'm glad I now know not read it. Thanks.

      I felt like that when I read Forest of Hands and Teeth.

    4. Interesting review. I didn't read the spoilers since I haven't read it yet but you're making me worried about reading it. I don't like books longer than 300 pages usually plus your disapointment in the end... Thanks for being honest.

    5. @Allison - I'm glad you like the ending better than I did :) I agree that it's a book great for discussion since there will be lots of varied opinions!

      @Bookfool - vacation with no book?! :) Though I understand why husband requested that... my husband isn't a reader tho he uses his iPod when I read :) I don't know if the author really didn't know... I suspect she does but just not telling so we can keep theorizing :) I don't tell people NOT to a particular book, just that this one I felt like I wasted MY time... but others may feel differently. I guess it depends on what type of books you like...

      @Sarah - This book has such potential and I guess that's why there are so many people who like it! I'm probably one of the rare few who didn't like it - so perhaps you can read a few more reviews (tho beware of spoilers!) to see... I'd hate to have you missed out on a book if it's something you'd otherwise like! I have Forest of Hands and Teeth on my TBR... ummm now I don't know if I should read that one or not?!

      @Caliista - even though it's a thick book, the sentences are short and the fonts are big with lots of space. I am all about reviewing honestly :) Would love to hear what you think if you read it!! As I mentioned above, it's a great book club book since you'll gets lots of viewpoints and may make you think of something you didn't (when I put a link to a spoiler thread in my review, and when I read it, it definitely made me think of things I didn't think of!) So I guess in that way, the book is a success?

    6. Oh good that I didn't fall prey to the controversies and read this one :)
      Thanks for your honest review !

    7. I skipped the spoilers because I haven't read this but intend to. I know a lot of people have problems with it (you included, apparently), but I like the idea of a problem book; I like anti-heroes and boundary-pushing and unreliable narrators, so long as they are done well.
      So who know, maybe I will want to throw it across the room, too, but I still intend to give it a try.
      Thanks for the review!

    8. @IceJewel - you're welcome! I'd still suggest you read other reviews to judge for yourself whether it's something you'd like... since it seems like I'm one of the rare ones who don't like it!

      @Misty - unreliable narrators don't bother me... from the reviews I'd read, the problem I had with it is kinda different to what some other people had (there could potentially be 2 board reasons, and one of them didn't bother me much... sounds like I'm speaking in riddles :) So I'd love to hear your thoughts when you're done with it!

    9. Thank you for the honest review! I've been debating whether or not to read this one, but now I'm not so sure. I'll have to think about it more, I guess. It's nice to hear the view from the other side. :)

    10. I felt the exact same way. EXACT.


    11. Wow - I didn't know Scott and Justine were a couple! News!

      I didn't like the ambiguity either - Jordan and Micah's parents were the biggest mysteries for me. Her parents were shown as so understanding and loving for the major part of he book and suddenly in the end, Micah goes about how they hate her? Uh, what did I miss? I didn't like not knowing either.