Review: Liar

Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult, mainstream fiction, genre-bending

In Their Words:
Micah will freely admit she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s fooled everyone: her classmates, her teachers, 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 easily as breathing?

In Mine:
Liar is a head-scratcher from begining to end; just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something changes, and you realize you still have no idea. No spoilers now, but there’s a big twist about half way through that throws the story potentially out of one genre and into another, but by the end even that twist is up for debate.

The most powerful thing about this book is that it’s told in first person, as a confessional account from Micah. She promises she’ll never lie to you, but yet she admits lying to you. Instead of chapters, Micah’s narrative is divided by themes (Before, After, Family History, and so forth) which wrap over and around each other. It flows the way a conversation or a journal does; rough, frank, unfolding organically.  It’s definitely a page turner, and I think one of the best, genre-bending books I’ve read in awhile. If ever there was an unreliable narrator worthy of discussion, Micah is one.

Before this book was released, there was a big scandal over the cover, which actually led to the original dust jackets being removed from the books and replaced with new covers before shipping out.  The problem with the old cover wasn’t about design, but about the use of a seemingly-white girl on a book clearly about a black girl (Micah’s racial identity comes up time and again in the book). Bloomsbury actually did a special photoshoot for the new cover, and I personally love it.

I’ve included the original cover here, to the right, so you can compare. It really was a good design, albeit ill-chosen, and I’m glad they were able to keep the same visual qualities in the new version.

The interior design of the book is also very well done. There’s a lot of white space used, and it’s clearly devided up into parts. It has a fresh, clean feel to it. There are also divider pages (the book is broken down by Part I, Part II, etc.) which use the same graphic as the back of the book; the words “I will not tell a lie” repeated in sketchy text over and over again. It’s a constant reminder that you can’t trust what Micah says.

Final Rating:
5/5 This book changed how I think about character and narrative. I recommend it to any fans of vivid, unusual characters and voice.

About Lucy

If you want to get fancy, Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and has a MA in Writing/Book Publishing, with a focus on Young Adult Literature, and a heaping disregard for literary snobbishness (she was an English Major–she’s seen and spouted her fair share). She works as a social media marketer, and has dabbled in developmental editing as a freelancer.
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One Response to Review: Liar

  1. Pingback: In My Mailbox (2) « Adventures in Bookland

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