Thursday, March 18, 2010

Liar - Justine Larbalestier

Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 371 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: March 16, 2010
Finished: March 18, 2010

Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

When I picked this up to read, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. By the end, I had a book that messes with your head and essentially makes you question every single thing written. The narrator, Micah, is a compulsive liar, she admits this early on. She promises to tell the readers the truth of what happened beginning with the disappearance and death of her boyfriend. There are a few things that Micah tells you about herself that you're pretty sure are true: that she's black, that she goes to school in New York City on a partial scholarship, that her family doesn't have that much money, and that she lies a lot. As soon as Micah mentions that she lied about this one thing she told readers a couple pages back, you start to question everything she says. It was hard to read this because as readers, you're so used to trusting your narrator in terms of getting at least one true viewpoint of the story (if done in first person), you can trust it more in third person, but first person is often more engaging to read in my opinion. With Micah outrightly lying, and by the time part 2 of the novel comes around and the twist is revealed and you're really sure she's lying but you oh so want to believe her, you're just trying to piece together what really happened. Micah is such a good liar too, all her lies are plausible, though not necessarily realistic. The ending doesn't have Micah saying, "oh okay guys, sorry, this is what really happened," and even if it did, I still don't think I'd believe her. This is a wonderful book just for that, you're not really sure what went on and every person will have a different idea of whether Micah's completely lying, completely truthful, or a mix of the two. It's hard to describe what my feelings about the book are without seriously spoiling it and influencing someone's opinion of it, so you'll just have to read it and decide for yourselves.

If you love reading a book where you can't completely trust your narrator and she occasionally makes fun of you for wanting to believe her, read this! Read this anyway because it's simply different from most of the stuff people read.

Thoughts on the cover:
There was a whole "whitewashing" incident with this book where the initial cover put forth by the publishers showed a white girl instead of a black girl. If they're going to put an image of the main character on the book cover, it should at least look like how she's described, which thankfully, the final released cover does. Aside from that issue, I like how the girl's mouth is covered with whatever it is she's holding.

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