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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, May 2014 - E. Lockhart has already built a solid career as a young adult author, but I’d argue that this is the one that will really elevate her to a new playing field. I picked up We Were Liars because it was getting rave reviews from the biggies of the genre like John Green and Scott Westerfield, and of course I was sucked in by the promise of a twist ending. Well, I read this thing (in print as the audio wasn't yet completed) in about 5 minutes flat, or that’s how it felt, because it totally chewed me up and spit me out. Sure it’s a little melodramatic (but so are teenagers), and sure there’s a twist ending that you may or may not see coming. There’s also this blue blood fantasy land gone wrong element, which makes it feel salacious and juicy. All of these are fancy-ticklers, but that’s not why I’m recommending this book. It’s the utter heartbreak that unfolds with such sophistication that got me. Families should love each other without condition. Lockhart gives us one that doesn’t, and it’s very hard to watch, but even more impossible to look away. —Emily, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

"Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." - John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars.

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.

True love.

The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Listen to it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just lie.

©2014 E. Lockhart (P)2014 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"You’re going to want to remember the title. Liars details the summers of a girl who harbors a dark secret, and delivers a satisfying, but shocking twist ending." (Breia Brissey, Entertainment Weekly)
"Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." (John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars)
"Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it’s a doozy)...This is poised to be big." ( Booklist, Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I Cannot Tell a Lie...Hated it

We were young, beautiful, and more than affluent. Blonde haired heiress to fortune falls for boy outside her WASP class and summers with Mummy and cousins on private island near Martha's Vineyard. After a traumatic event, Cadence struggles to remember what tragedy had befallen her the summer before last.

Boring is the best word for this. The writing was plain, repetitive, and if I heard one more time how pretty and rich they were, I was going to reach through my iPhone and strangle her myself. Waste of my time. Would have returned it, but purchased on sale.

69 of 77 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Liar Liar

We Were Liars is about a group of four family friends that call themselves the Liars. They summer with their families every year at an exclusive island off Cape Cod. During the 15th summer everything falls apart, and our unreliable narrator Cadence (Cady) Sinclair Eastman suffers a head injury and selective amnesia. The reader follows a scant trail of breadcrumbs to put it all together, but still, the final act will likely shock you.

It took me some time to warm up to this group of privileged teens. But as the book wore on I got more curious about Cady, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and her love interest Gat, the outsider, who only see each other in the summer and live separate lives during the school year. Issues of class, race, gender roles, and privilege are on the table among the Liars, and their old-money families are at the mercy of Cady’s grandfather who holds the purse strings.

After the mysterious incident in the 15th summer, Cady returns two years later a different person. She’s dyed her hair black, has memory loss and migraines, and gives away her belongings. And adding to the mystery angle, all the Liars and family members are instructed not to tell Cady what happened two years ago. My mind was going to all kinds of dark places, but I was still way off base.

With the setting and Cady’s foggy headspace there is a dreamy quality to the book that is further enhanced by the dark fairytales that Cady references in the story.

E. Lockhart’s writing is smart and poetic, and the book is cleverly crafted. I did feel detached from the story and the characters at times, but I’m thinking that’s part of the design of the book. Even if you feel a lack of connection to the story at first the mystery has a great payoff in the end that gives you all the feels.

Narrator Ariadne Meyers made Cady’s confused state of mind believable. Her tone of voice is convincing when portraying these blue blood type characters. The pacing was fine and the male and female voices and age ranges were distinct. One reason you might want to go with the print version instead though is to flip back for reference. With a high concept book like this with so many surprises, the audio makes it tricky to go back and re-listen if you need to. However, listening to the story does make it feel more mysterious and chilling and Meyers does a good job selling this story.

Listen to We Were Liars if you like: High concept mystery, literary YA, unreliable narrators, and twisty stories.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Why?

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This is not a spoiler, but early on the protagonist says her father shot her and left her bleeding when he abandoned the family. While meant figuratively, I thought for a second it was literal, and was entranced that the story might be a journey to learn why he shot his daughter. It might have been more interesting.

Would you recommend We Were Liars to your friends? Why or why not?

The book is very well written, and has well defined, fully realized characters. Having said that, this is a dark book without any particular depth or meaning, although the events and extreme emotionality almost simulate them. The younger the reader is, the more they may be hoodwinked, although I wouldn't recommended the book to anyone under 15. It touches on racism, elitisms, hypocrisy, friendship, family, charity, nostalgia, and fleetingly with forgiveness, but not to any true sense of resolution.

Some have commented on the twist(s) or the predictability, and I have to admit that if you combine two very popular movies together you've locked in on this books key gimmicks. I have mixed emotions, because they were undeniably well executed. Memory repression & selective amnesia have been somewhat of a cliche over the past 30-years and I wonder if they happen much more in movies and books than in real life. The chief mistake of the book is that the reveal is so close to the end that there is only time for minimal resolution. There is not a compelling message or resonance to the book.

Perhaps young people are idealistic and sometimes very foolish and old people are sometimes controlling and as childish as young people, but why did the author think this particular story was important to tell? What could have been a mystery, a horror novel, or a coming of age story gets somehow stalled as a character development piece. Ultimately the book reads quickly and maintains interest, so I don't discourage reading it--just know that it is more or a tragedy than an HEA.

Two examples (not YA) of books that are fully fleshed out, but better developed tragedies with some similarity to this book are:
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
&
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

Which character – as performed by Ariadne Meyers – was your favorite?

The narration was excellent and all characters were done very well. Toward the end, the narrator gets a little heavy with the emoting rather than letting the words carry the emotion.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Blockbuster ending!


"Should you do what you're afraid to do?"

This is a challenging book to review, because the story is the unraveling of memories, understandings and events, and it would spoil the entire thing to say too much. Cadence, the protagonist--and also the narrating voice of the book, is friends with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, as well as Gat, the stepson of her aunt. They are a tight foursome, referring to themselves as "The Liars."

The story brings us into the lives of people who live a lifestyle most of us would never dream of (wealth, privilege, private island, etc). Gat, who is part of them, but has a slight outsider perspective provides some contrast. The relevant events take place during the summer they are all 15 years old. As the story begins, Cadence is trying to cope with migraines and traumatic amnesia from an accident she believes happened in the water. She has also had to cope with her parents' separation. She is trying to piece together what happened.

There is a wonderful background commentary revealed through fairy tale stories and literary allusions. I have to be careful here, because this has an amazing ending, and I am even tempted to say one reads the book for the ending, except that would deny the great writing and character development that takes place throughout the whole novel. I think this would make a great selection for a book club, where it could be more openly discussed.

The narration is very good, seems to capture the voice and inflections of an adolescent very well. The author has an amazing way of bringing the reader/listener into the family secrets with the parallel background fairy tales, and often the references to King Lear. This is an excellent book. Highly recommend!

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Fell flat for me

What did you like best about We Were Liars? What did you like least?

I am slightly miffed that I fell for all the hype because this book was only confusing, tedious, and manipulative. The idea that there is a BIG TWIST!!! and be sure NOT TO KNOW ANYTHING!!! only built it up too much. So, if you like unreliable narrators and are capable of getting swept into the story and think you might like the protagonist, go for it. A lot of people that I admire and respect thought this a very well done story tell. I won't be recommending it. It might make more sense on a second read but the big reveal just had me relieved that the book was soon to be over.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Maybe The Husband's Secret or The Secret History. More secrets! ha.

Have you listened to any of Ariadne Meyers’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was my first listen of Ariadne Meyer. She captures the teen voices well and was not too distracting with adult voice variation. Do not expect Massachusetts accents for this which did cause me pause knowing that Aunt is pronounced differently in New England compared to the Midwest.

Could you see We Were Liars being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

NO, I wouldn't be interested in a movie of this.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The twist

I had a hard time getting into the storyline as it was quite slow moving for the first half.
About halfway through I figured out the twist and started wondering how long it would take for the author to get to the point.
The narration was ok, though I did find some of the voices grating.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A Ghost Story for Pre-Teens

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A grown up novel.

What could E. Lockhart have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Tell me before I buy the book that the target audience is junior high girls

What didn’t you like about Ariadne Meyers’s performance?

She was okay.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Strong use of imagery, setting, mood

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Once you know the truth never share the secret.

I have read or listened to many books in my lifetime and this is one ending I didn’t see coming. Both the author and the narrator did a superb job. I very much enjoyed the entire story and already miss the characters. I listed to this in one sitting while driving to NY. Yes, the story is told from a young adult perspective, but trust me, buy the book. The story lured you in and you need to hear the ending. When someone asks you about the book...never tell the secret!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Haunting story!

I was mesmerized by this story! A great mystery! I loved the narrator. It was recommended by an Audible staff person!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Well written but irritatingly long

Rich, racist democrats who own their own island, don’t work for their living, continually refer to themselves as beautiful, tall and white and raise nauseatingly entitled children? What’s not to like?

On the positive side, the writing was beautiful at times when the author stayed with the storyline but the “once upon a time” parts drove me nuts. Still the surprise twists kept me reading so I gave it 3 Stars.