Friday, 5 September 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

" We were warm and shivering, and young and ancient, and alive. I was thinking it's true, we already love each other. We already do."

To summarise this book in three words, I would have to say: intense, beautiful lies. 
I went into this book with no expectations - it had had too much hype in too little time and I wasn't hugely interested by it, maybe because I didn't know anything about it. The only reason I read this book was so I knew what this massive twist was and I am so glad that I did because it was amazing and went straight onto my favourites list.

Overall I gave this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads and would rate it at 96.5%. 

(It's very difficult to talk about this book with out revealing spoilers - as this is the kind of book you should go into with no synopsis - so this is a SPOILER REVIEW from now. If you haven't read it, do not read this post... You have been warned.)

I thought the storyline was very interesting and I loved the idea of the "perfect" rich Sinclair family who stayed on this private island every summer, but weren't as perfect as they seemed or believed. There was favouritism and manipulation, secrets and lies, hierarchy and rebellion. An intense, frantic love hidden from the family. A family who never speak out, voice their opinions or show their feelings but instead, argue over money, houses and their choices in partner; all the while they use the
children as a platform to gain what they want out of Harris Sinclair - the ruler of his very own tiny kingdom. Then, comes the burning of Clairmont. It is monumental, epic - burn the house, burn everything they are fighting over, burn the arguments and the thing that is tainting the family. I wanted it to happen, felt myself egging the liars on, thinking it was a great idea and, even though deep down I knew it wouldn't, I found myself convinced it would work. And then, I realised... It couldn't. I found the story mysterious, intellingent and intriguing; exciting and brilliant and momentous.

The characters were gripping and well thought out. I think we all agree that some of them were not really very nice people. Most of the Sinclair family acted so typically rich, closed off to everyone and, let's face it, extremely, ruthlessly manipulative. Harris is a man who doesn't care about much else but money and having the perfect, wealthy, white American family, with little
regard for other peoples feelings. His children, the Liars parents, I think, have the potential to be good people but are stuck in the way of life they have been brought up in by their father. We didn't see much of the younger kids, but still managed to get a good sense of their individual personalities which are all very different, making it an even more developed and interesting read. Then there are the Liars. Much more open and free, they rebel from the family. Mirren is so open and loving and excited. She is down to earth and relatable and is always there for Cadence, Johnny and Gat - I think she was my favourite character. I, personally didn't feel that I got to know Johnny as much, however, and found him much harder to relate to and slightly trickier to get a massive idea of his personality. Gat is a brilliant character and for me, unlike other people, he didn't come across as pretentious. Instead I think he is strong-minded and good hearted which caused him to come out with these deep words. He is far from the closed-off nature of the Sinclair family. Our protagonist, Cadence is extremely well developed. She is intense and troubled and in love. This was portrayed brilliantly throughout the book and,
although I can not relate to her in any of these ways, I still felt connected to her. I felt that we were not meant to pity her as such but instead be put in the position where we could understand her and exactly what she was going through. I thought she was a truly brilliant character that had so many levels to her as well as being wonderfully written. 

The writing in We Were Liars is amazing... I mean, wow. This was one of the most beautifully written novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. E. Lockhart's writing is so distinct, unique and actually stunning. Even though it's a short book, there are probably at least 50 quotes that I want framed on my wall and the writing made the book feel so much longer and more powerful than the 225 pages that it is. It was one of those books where I had to sit back for a minute every so often just to admire how well it is written and how beautifully the author strung words together. Not only the language, but the structure of it, how the words were put together in such a way, made it intense and mad - if it was any other book I would be thinking "what the actual hell is happening right now" but as it was this book I didn't. (I may be sounding a bit crazy at this point but, as I'm sure you agree. the writing was just so so so good). I also loved the use of metaphors in this book when the protagonist relates emotional pain to physical pain and her bleeding out which we can infer is her own way of describing when she has a break down of sorts. For a while it was confusing as to whether it was actually happening or not, making it fascinating and weird and beautiful. I also loved the use of fairy tales throughout the book to foreshadow what was going to happen, as well as to explain Cadence's feelings and emotions in relation to what was going on and all the madness that she was experiencing at the time. I really enjoyed this part and think it is a very important part of the book and it wouldn't be anywhere near as good, nor the same book without this component. It adds so much to the story and is such a raw, clever idea posing as simple stories that Cadence likes to write but are actually complex and fundamental to the story.

Even though I had some slight theory that one of them would be dead, I never thought that all three of them would be and I was still very shocked and found myself exclaiming out loud while I was reading it. I think it's an amazing twist to the story that made it very interesting and I love the fact that, once we find out the twist and look or think back to earlier in the book, there are little clues scattered throughout that are subtle enough for a lot of people to barely pick up on; it was definitely a very nice touch that made it an even better book. However, I do think that I would have enjoyed the book a lot more and found the twist even more powerful if I hadn't known that there was going to be one prior to going into the book. On another note, I would really like to know whether they were in fact ghosts, or something that Cady imagined up because of the trauma, not remembering (or perhaps believing) what happened, and still needing closure. My first thoughts were that they were ghosts because of little things like still having the pebbles from Mirren and the roses in the envelope from Gat, but these could have been things she got for herself and imagined being given them by the Liars. What are your thoughts on this, because I know lots of people think different things? I think that maybe E. Lockhart wanted to leave it open to interpretation, leave us with still more mystery which, I think, makes it an even more interesting and outstanding novel. 

Intense, beautiful lies. 

Love Ellen xxx

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