Contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. Words and words and words.

So I joined the party, a little late, probably, and read We Were Liars.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart; 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart; 2014

I was worried it would be too quick a read, as in its physical form it looked a little slim. But it held its own, and I didn’t feel it was missing anything by the time I’d got through it. It even took me longer than expected – in that it took me a while to get it into it, and then “post-twist” I found myself racing through. There is, of course, a massive plot twist – as you’ll know if you’ve read any of the hype before you pick up the book. I really do think it would be thoroughly spoiled if you knew what was coming, but I’m also looking forward to reading it again from a fully informed perspective.

So, the book. It is, as you’d expect, very good. It’s a weird one though, if you’ve read any of the reviews floating around, and there are many, there are a lot of people declaring it the best book they’ve ever read, and others who can’t wait to list their criticisms (some of which are so obviously a knee-jerk reaction to the praise it’s getting, it’s laughable). This is one of those books where I can read both the positive and negative comments and think “hmm, I can see their point.” Which leaves me slightly unsettled. What I mean is…

“The writing style irritated me.” Well, yes, I can see how it might. But actually, for me that was a big plus point. Because she writes how I write. All lists and twisty sentences and inference.

“I saw the twist coming.” I didn’t. Maybe I’m just not very observant, or maybe I don’t read enough books like this to have a catalogue of possible endings in my head. But maybe it was careering somewhat too obviously towards a conclusion. Maybe.

“The characters are clichés of themselves.” True, I think. But it’s a novel. A work of fiction. And I quite liked that. Because people can be contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. And maybe if you were reading another type of book, from another type of author, you’d find out a bit more depth. But maybe, that tells you all you need to know? (Have you read my twitter bio? Hopeful, organised and often hungry. I was always going to like E. Lockhart’s style).

“The best book I’ve ever read. Not just the best YA book, the best book. Ever. Of all books ever.” Or similar. I think what these reviewers are trying to say, is they love it. And I did, too. But I don’t think it’s the best thing ever written. It’s new (literally and in terms of the content) and I think that helps. It’s original. And it definitely has a place in top YA lists. But let’s not get carried away.

“It’s heartbreaking”. It is. In a way. I didn’t sob the way I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars. But then some people I know didn’t sob when they read that, so let’s face it, it’s entirely subjective. But I did get to the end and feel battered and not a little distressed. Because under the style and the panache of this book, is a plot line that when you let your imagination get involved, will really get under your skin.


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