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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Cadence Sinclair suffers from headaches and amnesia due to an accident she had a few years ago. Details of the accident are a little unclear – infact they remain unclear until towards the end of the novel. This is because it’s narrated from a first-person perspective, so all that we the readers know is whatever the narrator tells us. So if the narrator has amnesia, then we also suffer from the same plight.
Most of the book’s setting lies within her memories as she takes us down memory lane to past summer vacations spent with her family and childhood friends on her family’s vacation spot, a private island owned by her grandparents. The characters are unique and easy to like, especially her childhood friends with whom she shares a tight bond, also nicknamed The Liars. We get curious about these Liars and follow them on their adventures as Cadence narrates, admiring and enjoying them, so much so that what we learn about them later in the novel is so deep and so shocking, that we may even wish we hadn't started reading it in the first place.
From the start of the book, we can tell that Cadence has issues that go deeper than her obvious amnesia, but what those issues are exactly, we can’t tell, and that makes us very much eager to read on. Everyone around her evades and avoids certain topics or phrases around her. She tries to find answers but no one is giving them to her. We become eager and desperate to find out what everyone else but her (and us) knows. And then we find out. And we wish we hadn't. The book ends with Cadence significantly recovering -- physically, emotionally and mentally -- after she finally makes peace with her 'ghosts' and comes to terms with past events.
The writing is unique and in its own class; the way the words are used, the emotional build-up of events, the way everything is linked but you don’t quite realize their connection until towards the end of the book. It’s direct, fast, shocking; infact shocking is the one word to describe the book as a whole.
It’s a heck of a good read; one of the best I've read in a while. It doesn't quite fit right into any particular genre fiction, although it’s most certainly suspenseful. However, I'm willing to tag it as literary fiction on a good run.
I would no doubt read other books by Lockhart, albeit with caution. She writes amazingly, but her writing certainly leaves a scar that might take a while to heal!