Sunday, 22 March 2015

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars (2014) (Hot Key Books)
E. Lockhart
Grade: A
Genre: young adult
Source: own 
General RBC 2015: A book without a love triangle

“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.”

Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. Gat, Mirren, Johnny and Cady. The family call them the Liars after Gat first arrived on Beechwood Island in summer eight. Though the four lead separate lives during the year, they are utterly inseparable during their summer months on the family island. To the outside world, life for the Sinclair family is privileged, effortless and enviable – that is, until summer fifteen. All Cady knows is that she had an accident on the island and the past two years have been spent in a haze of pain and pills, as her selective amnesia prevents her from remembering much of what happened. Now, Cady is back on Beechwood for summer seventeen, the first time since her accident two years ago and everything has changed irrevocably. What is the truth? What is a lie?

We Were Liars is utterly breathtaking. This is Emily Lockhart’s eighth book, but its stunning storyline, unreliable narrator and hypnotic writing means that it packs all the power of something you’d expect in a debut. God knows how much I simultaneously love and hate unreliable narrators, but Cady’s situation means that you’re discovering the truth just as she does. And when the plot twist comes, I was completely blown away. This is one of the most devastating books I’ve read in a long time – only Sharon Bolton’s Now You See Me comes close, and that was back in 2012. You’ll need to read this book for a second time in close succession to your first reading, to pick up on all the clues that you miss.

The only other Lockhart book I’ve read is The Boy Book, back in 2007. I liked it, but I didn’t love it and truthfully, I didn’t understand what all the fuss surrounding E. Lockhart was about. Fast forward seven-and-a-half years and We Were Liars was being quoted as the young adult book to read in summer 2014. E. Lockhart has without a doubt gotten better with practice. We Were Liars is grittier and more poignant than anything I remember, though it must be said that The Boy Book is a different sort of book. Cady might be selfish, whiny and full of her own self-importance, but it’s difficult to hate her for it once you’ve got to the end of the book and all is revealed.

I’ve already read this book twice, cover to cover. I’ll probably read it several more times before the year is out. It is by far my favourite of my favourites of the year so far, not least because E. Lockhart has an uncanny ability to leave you speechless and clutching at straws as you try to figure out what on earth you missed. Combined, it makes for a brilliant and thought-provoking read, messing with your head without you even realising it. An amazing experience and you can’t ask an author to give more than Emily Lockhart has done.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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