• Theo

We Were Liars - Book Review

A look into the lives of the privileged. A story where only the truth will set you free but everyone is determined to keep the truth hidden.

We were liars follows the story of Cadence; a privileged white, American teenager who comes from an incredibly wealthy family. Every summer, the family meets up on their private island, owned by Candence’s grandfather. We meet the ‘liars’; a group of teenagers from the same family. A group of four comprising of Cadence, Mirre, Johnny, and Gat. Gat is the “outsider” as such since he is from a different ethnical background.

Gat and Cadence form a romantic relationship that only exists during the summer. One summer, everything goes wrong and Cadence has an accident. The novel focuses on Cadence rediscovering the truth when visiting the island after two years. Since the accident, she has suffered from amnesia, and hasn’t been in touch with any of the ‘liars’. Going back to the island helps her uncover the sad truths of that day.

This move has been out since 2014 and won the YA Goodreads Choice Awards. It’s a short novel and written in a fast-paced manner. The chapters are short and the book is split into five parts: Welcome, Vermont, Summer Seventeen, Look, a fire, and Truth. It’s written in the first person with flashbacks to what happened in the previous years, allowing us to find out the truth at the same time as Cadence.

I didn’t know anything about this book before going into it but the fact that the front cover had a recommendation from John Green meant that I had high hopes. Personally, I loved the journey throughout the novel. It starts in a very stereotypical way of learning about this beautiful, rich family who seems perfect from the outset, but naturally have their flaws. There are a lot of characters introduced early on, which personally, I found to be a bit overwhelming and I couldn’t recall who was who about halfway through the book.

Cadence is a particularly interesting character as she goes from being a very popular girl to this unwell girl who has to spend the majority of her time isolated from others. She’s relatable and there are parts of her character that are dislikeable but we also side with her and want her to find the answers she’s looking for.

As the book goes on, we learn more about each of the characters and grow fond of them. Gat and Cadence have a strong connection but are divided by class. Ultimately, Gat is not truly accepted by the family but Cadence cannot fathom this until much later in the story. She learns about herself as she searches for the truth.

It’s a beautifully written, heartbreaking tale (if such a thing exists) but my biggest issue is the ending. Considering it is a young adult novel, it didn’t feel like the right message came across. It’s hard to explain without giving away any spoilers, but it feels as though it almost encourages negativity. Something bad happened because of the ‘liars’ in their attempt to achieve something. Even though it was bad, they achieved what they wanted. That to me almost looks like encouraging children to pursue dangerous endeavours under the pretence of the ends justify the means. However, as an adult reading it, there was a clear message to not let money dictate your life. That really is my only critique though. Aside from that, it’s a great story.

I would recommend it to both teenagers and adults as it’s a great story where there is a lot to be learned about ourselves from these different characters. It’s a quick read that will keep you interested throughout its entirety. It’s the first book I’ve found to move me since The Fault in Our Stars.

My rating - 8.5/10

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