Review: Liar by Justine Larbalestier (Audio book)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
First Published: September 2009
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Source: Library
9 hours, 1 minute




On the flap
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?

Taking listeners 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 listeners seesawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.


It is very rarely that I choose to read a book without knowing anything at all about it. Since I don't get much reading time per month, I like to have some idea of the books I read and also whether they have been well-received. Liar was an exception. I had no idea what this book was about, except that the protagonist, Micah, who is also the narrator, is a liar. Funnily, that is all you need to know. Anything else is a spoiler.

I've written a spoiler-free review, and I recommend that if you haven't read this book, please do not read any reviews with spoilers. This story has to be read without knowing anything about it.

My opinion
Liar starts with a confession by Micah that she is a liar, followed by a promise that she will come clean in this story. So she does. Or does she? Her boyfriend, Zack, is dead, and she is shattered. But who killed him? Is she really his girlfriend? Is she even telling the truth? At one point, I almost expected her to shriek and say "April fool! Zack isn't dead!" OR "Gotcha! I invented Zack! The End!"

As Micah backtracks and changes her story, while also explaining her actions, I admit I felt pretty shocked! Some of the things I thought were lies, weren't. And some confessions that I fell for (which was a lot), were false. The major twist halfway through the story quite shocked me, since I didn't expect it at all. I won't say I entirely bought that twist then, but it fell into place as the story progressed.

Remember the story of the Blind men and an elephant? Each of the men touch one part of the elephant, and try to determine what it is. Their guesses are very different (rope, pillar, wall, etc). The story tries to show that two people could look at the same thing and yet, come up with very different conclusions. Liar is an excellent testimony to that, as the reader initially falls for Micah's lies and then when she says the truth, we accept that as being plausible as well!

Although this is a YA book, this is also what I would call YA-for-adults. I didn't cringe at any scene or dialogue, nor did I find any character to be straight out of a lame high school story. The major characters are pretty strong - Micah, Zack, Sarah, even Brandon, though I felt the minor characters to be insubstantial.

Unless you read audio books pretty fast, and don't mind shrilly* narrators, I would suggest you read the book. I wish I did, it might have made me appreciate it better. The narration in the first half of the story was very high-school-ish. Shrilly. Vociferous. Crying girls. Bullying jocks. But the latter part was very serene in pace. It could be because Micah started to grow on me by then, but the effect is very noticeable.

* (The narrator isn't really shrilly, but there are times, I thought my ears will explode. Especially when Micah is extra emotional or angry, or just plain upset.)

Overall, I will recommend this book. I wasn't sure if this idea of a liar as a narrator would work at all. But I would say it did. The concept is very unique, and I found myself eager to know how truthful Micah was in the end. I wasn't wow'ed by this book, but I think the audio book had more to do with that. However, I wasn't very impressed by the ending, and Liar left me with a few questions and some confusing conclusions about what the truths and the lies were.

Title Demystified
No surprise! Micah - the liar! Or not?

Cover Art Demystified

I love this cover! I am so glad Bloomsbury caved in and changed the cover. The previous one isn't bad but it doesn't fully well capture the heritage of the protagonist AND the "I'm a liar" look in her eyes. Everything about Micah in this picture screams that fact. Her desire to stop lying is mirrored by her hands covering her mouth, but it is conflicted by her tendency to lie, as expressed by her piercing eyes .

What did you think?
Have you read this book? I'd like to know what you thought about it. Please leave your review link in the comments, or a brief opinion, if you hadn't reviewed it.

Did you like it or you didn't? If you didn't, at what point did the book turn you off.

11 comments:

Michelle said...

The title and description alone have me interested! Just coming off "Columbine," where one of the killers was a psychopath who basically lied to people for a living, I think I would get into this one.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read this book, but I've had it so long, it has the old cover on it. :( Great review!

Aths said...

Michelle, and I'm going to read Columbine this month soon as I get my copy from the library! I hope you enjoy Liar!

Kathy, aww, so you must have got it before the cover change controversy? It doesn't matter, the story is the same. :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Excellent review! I never considered the audio book of this one.

brichtabooks said...

Thanks for the review. Books with unreliable narrators are always interesting to me! I sometimes stay away from young adult books, but this sounds like one I would enjoy!

Meg said...

I'm definitely fascinated by this one, especially after all of the cover controversy that erupted last year. Books that keep me guessing are often some of my favorites, and the strong characterization would keep me flipping the pages. Definitely hope to read it soon. :)

Aths said...

Juju, thanks! The book would be a better experience, I'm sure!

Julie, I stay away from YA, too. But this one caught my eye!

Meg, the cover controversy is exactly what put this book on my radar, so I'm glad the reading experience was well worth it!

Gwen said...

I love your review of this! I haven't read it, but want to now.

Aths said...

Gwen, thank you! :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

I was very disappointed with this book. It has such potential, but the ending ruined it for me! My review is here: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/02/book-review-liar-by-justine.html

Aths said...

christa, I wasn't much impressed by the ending either. It sort of went way overboard for me. Became totally unrealistic, and that's saying something.