I picked up this book on a complete whim after watching Kristina Horner's video review. I'm a sucker for a twist and absolutely hate being spoilered, so when I heard this book had a pretty major twist/spoiler in it, I just had to grab it and see what all the fuss was about before anyone ruined it for me!
'We Were Liars' is immediately entirely my cup of tea. I love young adult fiction, love teenage drama nonsense, and love over-privileged, rich white person silliness (see; Gossip Girl, 90210, Revenge). This book doesn't bathe in it or revel in it, though - through The Liars' eyes, we see the rich, All American family for how it 'truly' is, and it isn't very pretty even before the darker events in the book. First person and casual, Cady's voice instantly pulled me in. I finished this book in two baths (who doesn't mainly read in the bath?) because I was so invested in the story, in the mystery, in finding out the 'what' and 'why'.
I've never read an E. Lockhart novel before, but I really love the way she writes. I can absolutely see why a lot of people wouldn't be a fan of her writing, because it is extremely poetic in places, with fluffy obnoxious purple prose that I, personally, adore. Back when I actually wrote fiction myself (a degree in Creative Studies in English kind of knocked out my passion for writing, ironically), my entire 'deal' was long, fluffy prose. Lockhart uses absolute metaphors (bleeding, being shot in the chest), and a really informal structure wonderfully. She intertwines the story with fairy tales that increasingly reflect the real life world around Cady and it's all just so nicely done. Clever, too.
So, the twist. Suffice to say, guys....
~ *here be spoilers*~
I knew there was a big twist, which is, as I said, why I wanted to snap the book up right away. I wonder what it would have been like to read the book without that knowledge, because the punch to the gut I received on the reveal was enough even with that mental preparation.
I kind of saw it coming, in an entirely wrong kind of way. Because I knew there was a big twist, I started imagining the most random things, but one of the things I immediately thought was "I bet Cady's dead." It would have been very Sixth Sense, it would have explained why The Liars didn't reply to her or care about her all summer long (I mean, really? Why wouldn't they otherwise? Their friend was ill and away and sad.) But as the story went on, and it seemed more and more unlikely that Cady was dead. It never occurred to me once, however, that The Liars were dead instead.
It was horrible. I finished the book during a game of Civilisation: Beyond Earth and as I read the ending, I'd absolutely stopped paying attention to the game. I cried. I felt like I'd been cheated somehow, that I'd been lied to.
Which was entirely the point, I suppose.
I immediately reopened the book and flipped through random pages, any pages that featured The Liars alongside other characters, constantly amazed that there actually hadn't been any interaction throughout the entire book. Of course there hadn't, because The Liars hadn't really been there. In fact, there was only one real moment that stuck where Cady even mentioned The Liars to anyone else - to the Littles, asking if they went out on the boats with Johnny last year. Their response was simply a "no". It made sense at the time, and made more sense on reflection.
It never felt weird - The Liars hadn't gone to dinner because they hated the Aunties and the horrible family affairs, for example. It made sense. And as I flipped through the book, I started to pick up on things. The haunted house. Carrie wandering at night, crying. Will's nightmares. Why Mirren hadn't received the doll Cady sent her (signed for, by her mother, but of course, never received). Why nobody replied to her emails, which seemed so cruel and out of character. It also explained the other things, the messy house, the scrabble tiles, the lies they told about where they were and what they'd done during her blackout days. If they were ghosts apparating simply for Cady's benefit, they wouldn't have been around to do anything while she was asleep, so when they appeared and were suddenly questioned, they came up with nonsense, lies, anything to keep up the pretence for Cady.
It was, on reflection, heartbreaking. They did it for Cady, because they loved her (and they told her as much, over and over). It was tiring, it was hard. This was a part that got me, from Johnny:
"And honestly, Cady, I love you, but I'm fucking tired. I want to lie down and be done. All this happened a very long time ago, for me."
It made it all so much worse. We were living with these guys, loving them, learning what made them tick and they were so alive and real as we read. In the space of a page, you learn that it was all a lie, that they're not only gone, but have been dead two years. We feel cheated. We feel heartbreak. Gat, her Gat, who isn't her Gat because he can never be her Gat. It all made sense before the reveal, and then it made so much more sense after. What a horrible story. It was beautiful, and it was horrible.
I don't know if this book has a movie deal yet but crikey, it'd make an extremely beautiful, haunting film. It's perfect movie material, and I'd be first in line to watch the reveal again on the big screen, ready for the punch to the gut.
Hi! I'm Selena an artist, blogger and gamer!
Dream Somehow is my little corner of the internet where I talk about life, the universe and everything! Here, you'll find travel, adventures, vintage style, life in the South West of England, a little bit of Disney dreaming and a whole lot of geeky nonsense. If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here!