Monday, October 5, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I've been dying to read Liar for ages, was begging everyone for an advance copy, but it didn't pan out.  In the end I was happy to spend actual money for it the day it came out. I've read tons of reviews, and many of them use the word 'brilliant.'  It's gotten three starred reviews. It'll probably be all over the award winnings this season.  My expectations were high.

I was not expecting to finish it and just feel sort of meh.  It was fun, I read it fast and couldn't put it down, but I kept waiting for something to tie together that never did.

Everyone seems so enthusiastic about the fact that you can't tell if what Micah says is the truth or a lie, cause she's such a compulsive liar that she lies constantly. Did I mention that she tells lies? Because she's a liar? And also that's the title of the book?  This girl is so obsessed with telling you what a liar she is over and over and over that I can only assume she is protesting too much and every word is the absolute truth—even the ones that contradict the other ones.

And that is just one of the many ways you can read the book! Each of which is apparently true. And that's why I didn't love it. Yes, it can be read a number of different ways. Basically you just have to make up rules about what to believe, about what you decide is true and what's a lie. And you can start again and make up a separate set of assumptions and come to a different conclusion, but there's no real basis in the text for any of it. It was definitely a good read and all, but if it's just me making stuff up, what's the point?

But definitely don't take my word for it, because obviously many who've read it would disagree. There's a great thread starting on Justine's blog, where she allows readers who have finished it to discuss the plot, including the top-secret twists we are forbidden to share in public (don't click on that link if you haven't read it and plan to, because I promise you don't want to know.) The readers over there are so enthusiastic and thoughtful, and several of them took what they read and created the book they wanted or needed to read. It's kind of inspiring. They're making me want to read it again, and maybe really get it this time.

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