Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars is not the sort of book I normally read. But with so much hype, and considering there was a mysterious aspect to it I really did not want to get spoiled on by waiting too long to read it, I requested it from the library’s e-book system and read it.

First, I’ll have the non-spoilery review…

OK, you’ve heard about the hype, the mystery, the shocking ending. Now that I’ve read the book I can say that I was sucked into the mysterious nature of the story (though not from the very get-go, which I’ll explain soon), and though I had a slight suspicion for at least part of the ending, I did feel pretty shocked afterwards.

Before I move on to the spoilers, I wanted to delve into the narrative structure of the novel. The narrative for most people, will be love or hate. I did fall in the middle with it, but mostly because I wasn’t crazy about it at first, then it grew on me, then I would stop reading for a little while and have to get back into it when I started reading again, etc. But I did find it was pretty powerful at moments. There really isn’t a typical three act plot structure, the narrator tells-tells-tells and doesn’t really show, there’s purple prose and simple prose and weird sentence breaks and fairy tales… and it can work… if you want it to, and if you’re OK with something slightly different from the norm. I won’t say it’s a slow beginning, because it’s not, but it may or may not grab you from the very start, just depending on how much you gravitate towards that kind of narrative.

Be normal now, she said. Right now, she said.
Because you are. Because you can be.

There are a lot of metaphors, which I found pretty effective once I got past the first really shocking one that I took literally and was about to freak out. But I loved when she used metaphors to describe the other Liars.

He is contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.

If you like this sort of narrative or are willing to try it out, I think you and We Were Liars will get along just fine.

GR-wewereliarsNow the spoilery review below is in all white to highlight if you have read the book. I’ve just got to talk some stuff out…

I was slightly disappointed with the ending, and I don’t even think I realized it until I had been finished for a couple of hours and continued to think it over. I had several ideas of what could have happened running through my mind, including that the Liars minus Cadence were dead, but I couldn’t reconcile how it would all work together. I even went so far to think of the Liars having been cloned as a more likely possibility than them being ghosts. I think ghosts crossed my mind for the briefest second, but I thought no way would the author do that, because it’s silly. Yet, there it was. And so many people loved the ending. And I kind of had an emotional reaction to it myself. I wasn’t like crying or flailing or yelling, “Five stars!” because none of that happened, but it did leave me with a sense of shock, and that was what I wanted after all it had been hyped up to be.

I didn’t want it to be paranormal. I’m really not a fan of paranormal. The way some people find stories about aliens silly is how I feel about stories about ghosts. (And just to be clear, when I say stories, I mean obviously fiction stories, not real people relaying what they believed happened to them.) 

I have problems with this ending logically. Did everyone else know about the ghosts and interact with them? I tried looking back (which is a little hard with an e-book) and it does seem Cadence was the only one who interacted with the Liars’ ghosts. Did the adults know of their presence though? If not, did they not wonder why Cadence wasn’t asking questions about where they were? What did they think she was doing all that time? And then if they did know, how did they not totally flip?!  Were they literally never going to tell Cadence what happened and make her figure it out on her own? What if it took her years?

I appreciated the recurring idea of “being normal” and not talking about bad things and maintaining the air of Sinclairs, but I was disappointed I never got to see the adults (or the littles!) come full circle and start talking about things. Or even Cadence really; she only shares her revelations with the reader. If this was supposed to be a flat or negative character arc then I guess I would have liked for the ending to make it more obvious that she and her family had made the decision to ignore it all. Like Cadence is about to say something about it and her mom stops her and tells her to be normal. The last line of the book, “I will endure,” is a little vague and can really mean anything in terms of how she’s choosing to cope with the tragedy. 

And then I have just a random thought that doesn’t have anything to do with my ultimate rating of the book… I noticed that there were two blue things that are usually white, and both are pointed out as being unusual: the blue Italian toilet and the blue hospital sheets. Did anybody find any meaning to this? I thought it was more than coincidental but could never figure out a significance. 

Anyhow, my immediate, emotional reaction rating was 4 stars. The logic side of my brain is saying 3 stars would make more sense. So I think I have decided to compromise at 3.5 stars. 

3.5starsBTW, I automatically knocked a half-star off the rating for the mention of wearing Crocs. Because seriously?! Wealthy New England socialites do not wear Crocs.

No-CrocsContent advisory: Language, including strong language. 

Alright, please share your thoughts on We Were Liars if you’ve read it! I want to know what you thought of the ending, if it worked for you, and why or why not. 

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12 thoughts on “Review: We Were Liars

  1. Excellent review – the crocs part at the end made me laugh. I loved the way We Were Liars was written, such an interesting style! That first metaphor gave me quite a shock too. I loved the book, have really enjoyed reading all the different reviews.

    • Glad I wasn’t the only one shocked and caught off-guard by the first metaphor! I feel like I need to go back and read more reviews for the book too now that I’ve finished!

  2. Oh my god, your thing about the Crocs is hysterical haha. I thought the same thing!

    (For anybody else reading….SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!!)

    Also…I’m kind of having a moment right now haha. I didn’t really love or hate this book, I was kind of in the middle like you, but I completely did not realize that “ghosts” was like…another way to look at it? What I was thinking was happening was that Cadence is just bat-shit crazy and because of her PTSD from the horrific event, she was just hallucinating the Liars the whole time. I guess just because, like, nobody else is able to see them and they didn’t seem to have other ghost-y qualities besides that they’re actually dead. I guess I wasn’t getting the “paranormal” vibe from it. I really just thought she was, like…insane. But now that you’ve said your opinion, I’m wondering what was really going on! I haven’t read a spoiler-y review of this book before, so I don’t really know what other people think about this. Is the general assumption that they’re ghosts and I’m just completely off base? Haha 😛 This is so interesting!

    • *SPOILERS* What you said crossed my mind too, and as I was typing up this review I decided to check out some spoilery reviews to make sure I was even right, but even the spoilery reviews I saw were kind of vague, but they were leaning more towards paranormal than psychological. Maybe it’s supposed to be open to interpretation? I would rather it be psychological, but I would want it to be clear that it was so. This is why I wanted other people’s opinions on the ending! I want to know what other people thought of what happened, so thank you for sharing your thoughts! Maybe one day we’ll find out!

    • The thing about those library holds is you never know how fast the list will go! My library had a lot of e-copies so it made the wait a little shorter, This would be a fascinating book to read for Book Club and get so many opinions on!

  3. *Spoiler* I had just assumed that Cadence was hallucinating. Although I like the idea that the Liars posed. Kind of like “if I tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”, I thought: “If no one remembered the Liars except Cadence, who’s brain was broken, did they really exist?” but that’s just me, haha.

    I didn’t really enjoy this book, and I think it has to do with the fact that I didn’t like Cadence. She made everything seem boring to me. The twist at the end was intriguing, but it didn’t make me cry or sob. I think I only felt bad for Gat.

    Great review, nonetheless! It was a great idea to have the spoilers in white! Ha.

    • *SPOILERS* Since this one has been so secretive I thought I would keep the spoilers extra secretive! A previous commenter mentioned the hallucinating as well, and I think that could possibly be it, but since there seemed to be some tangible interactions, I assumed that meant they were in some form. Of course, Cadence is supposed to be unreliable. But there was also the stuff about Mireen getting sick and them leaving her that made me lean towards my ghost idea, but it does seem open, doesn’t it? I pretty much went into the book expecting to not like the characters, so for once that didn’t ruin it for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Interesting points. I loved this one and was completely taken back by the twist. But not only that I loved the writing and the fairy tales so combined with the shock value, this was a great read for me.
    I took it that the ‘ghosts’ were only visible to Candace and not to the adults. She had repressed her memories but her subconscious wouldn’t let her and so they were haunting her. Well that was my take anyway.
    The blue stuff! I never noticed but now I want to know!

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