Rating: 2 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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 National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Ehhhhh . . .
Despite what the synopsis says, I think people should know a little more info going into this book. So, no spoilers here, but I’m just going to try to get you to understand exactly why everyone seems to be loosing their cool over this little novel. (And when I say little, I’m not kidding. Anyone could easily finish this within a day.)
As to everyone loosing their cool over this . . . yeah, true to history, I’m not one of those people.
I dislike this book. I do.
Not to the level that was The Book That Shall Not Be Named (Dreams of Gods and Monsters *shudders*), but quite a good amount of dislike is coursing through my blood at this moment.
When I immediately finished this little book, I would probably have given it a 3-3.5 stars. What changed is I had a decent night’s sleep and have come to my senses. (Also, the ending did get me reeling a little bit. But not enough to pass over to the next day.)
Is this book worth reading? I think it is. Yes, I did just tell you I dislike the book, but the thing is, it’s not a horrid book. It’s nowhere as bad as some of the books I’ve read. But I do think you all should be warned, no matter who you are, you will get irritated with these characters.
Impossibly, unquenchably irritated.
And that’s what I’m going to talk about. The bloody characters. Not a decent one among them.
But first, let me tell you the good of the book.
1.) the writing – this is very debatable, but there are sections of the book that use a very unique way of describing Cadence’s feelings, and I love them. I love that there are random points in the story
for no reason whatsoever
starts having thoughts
like this, and
are written like this.
I can’t help it – I like this type of weird writing. It doesn’t fit everyone, but I liked it.
2.) This can be summed up with a quote:
It was important, she said; it was kind; it was best. Don’t cause distress, she said. Don’t remind people of loss. “Do you understand, Cady? Silence is a protective coating over pain.”
I liked the dynamic of Cadence and her mother, and how they take in all their fears and emotions and shove them down each other’s throats. They don’t let themselves feel, they don’t let themselves express. Anything.
Now, on to the many, many reasons I almost threw the book at the wall.
“Okay, I’m asking. Can we please start over? Please, Cady? Let’s start over after lunch. It’ll be awesome. I’ll make amusing remarks and you’ll laugh. We’ll go troll hunting. We’ll be happy to see each other. You’ll think I’m great, I promise.”
“That’s a big promise.”
This is a conversation between Cadence and Gat (yes, that’s really his name. I don’t even know either), who have not seen each other for two years, and he never called or answered any letters or emails during that time when Cadence really needed him. And then she sees him again, and he’s all smug and “I know how you felt about me, how you feel about me, and I’m going to use it all to my advantage to make you fall for me again even though I broke your heart and then smashed the pieces.”
I do not like Gat. I do not like their relationship.
“You’re saying Granddad thinks you’re Heathcliff?”
“I promise you, he does,” says Gat. “A brute beneath a pleasant surface, betraying his kindness in letting me come to his sheltered island every year – I’ve betrayed him by seducing his Catherine, his Cadence. And my penance is to become the monster he always saw in me.”
For Pete’s sack . . . What is so horribly wrong about being born white and rich? Why does this automatically make you a bad person? Also, what is so wrong about NOT being born white and rich? No one on that island cares that you’re not white and rich, Gat. No one but you. Why is Cadence the automatic villain in your eyes? Prejudice can go both ways, and you’re labeling a girl you’ve known since childhood on the connotation of what white, pampered girls are like in society’s eyes.
“Who are Ginny and Paulo?”
Gat hits his fist into his palm. “Ginny is the housekeeper. Paulo is the gardener. You don’t know their names and they’ve worked here summer after summer. That’s part of my point.”
My face heats with shame. “I’m sorry.”
Okay, maybe Cadence should know who they are. But it’s not like she’s snubbing them. It’s not like she’s ignoring them. If I had grown up on a private island every summer, the first thing on my mind wouldn’t have been to introduce myself to the housekeeper and the gardener. Honestly, it might never cross my mind. It doesn’t mean I’m being rude or “a stuck up little rich girl,” it just means it never crossed my mind. Maybe I just never see them. It doesn’t mean I think I’m better than them, it doesn’t mean I stay away from them because they aren’t white – it just means I’m not a talkative person and I keep close to my family, a family that’s there to spend the summer together.
So sue me.
Gat has this holier-than-thou thing going on. Because he’s not white, because his family doesn’t go to Ivy League schools, and because he doesn’t own a private island, that automatically makes him the victim and Cadence the villain.
Nobody snubs Gat. Nobody snubs the housekeeper or the gardener. NO ONE CARES WHAT COLOR YOUR SKIN IS. Really. I swear.
It’s not like Cadence had a say in who she was born too. It’s not her fault that her granddad may be a little bit racist, because she’s never seen Gat as anything other than the boy she grew up with and fell in love with. But then he has to go and CONSTANTLY remind her that she’s white and he’s not and this must mean something earth shattering.
I DON’T CARE.
Gat is angry at Cadence for having a rich family when there are starving child around the world. And yes, that sucks, but – my gosh – the starving children around the world are not her fault. Being rich – or just plain having money – doesn’t mean you stole it out of the dirty hands of some orphan in a third-world country. We don’t even know how her family got rich or if they’re donating money to help with that, but not matter what, it’s NOT CADENCE’S FREAKING FAULT. She didn’t ask for the world to have starving children or to be born into a rich family.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things wrong with Cadence. I had many fits over her character as well.
She ends up feeling guilty about what Gat says to her about the starving children, so you know what she does? Starts giving away everything she owns. She feels guilty over every item she owns that she doesn’t need to survive.
And she also starts to get angry at her family for having money. For being selfish.
And then there was this great moment when this happened:
“You’re filled with superiority, aren’t you? You think you understand the world so much better than I do. I’ve heard Gat talking. I’ve seen you eating up his words like ice cream off a spoon. But you haven’t paid bills, you haven’t had a family, owned property, seen the world. You have no idea what you’re talking about, and yet you do nothing but pass judgment.”
Because she does. Both Cadence and Gat just sit around and pass judgment on the world, on her family for having money, when really they know nothing.
It was irritating as hell.
To sum this book up, I think I’d have to call it a hot mess. But maybe the characters are supposed to be this irritating. Maybe that was the point, to show both sides of the spectrum and say “Neither of you have any idea what you’re talking about, so please shut up now.”
Like I said – it’s a hot mess.