A good book can sometimes be hard to find, but with eight people with varying tastes and opinions I hope to spice up and add variety to our personal libraries. This book club was created because we all have a love for books. Since location prevents us from actually meeting, this is our outlet. Let's discuss why we did or did not like the books. We will take turns suggesting the book for the month. If you want to read more than that, you can share that with us here too. I hope that this will be an enjoyable thing for everyone and I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say. Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Liar - Justine Larbalestier

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.

Crystal's Thoughts:
This book was definitely not what I expected it to be.  I had so many conflicting feelings about almost every aspect of it from the story itself to the narrator to the plot.  It becomes extremely clear that Micah is an extraordinarily unreliable narrator.  Even though she admits in the beginning that she is a liar, I believed everything she said up to the second part of the book.  After reading it in its entirety, some of her lies seemed believable while the revelation that she is a werewolf was completely absurd and unexpected.  I think we read a book about a girl who has never felt loved and  I don't know whether to hate her or feel sorry for her.  She brought a lot of her problems on herself because, after all, who likes a liar?

I picked this book because the opinions I heard varied from one extreme to another, absolute love or absolute hate.  It's one those things where I just wanted to see for myself.  This is definitely not a book I would typically read but it was just good enough to hold my attention.  There has to be a little truth in some of the things she said.  From what I gathered, it's hard to say what her relationship with Zach really was.  Was she is his girlfriend on the side or his running partner?  Or was she just a psycho stalker?  In regards to Zach, her accounts of the last time she saw him changed throughout the book and it's hard to say the nature of their relationship.  I think that Zach may have been a crush who was nice to her but that the majority of their romantic involvement is what she wishes really happened.  She wants so badly to be liked or loved and because Zach may have been nice to her (relating to her on their common interest in running) she made up their secret affair. I believe that she was an outcast at school who wanted to fit in and appear cool, hence the lying.  It's hard to say where Tayshawn and Sarah fit in but it seems that she is getting something out their grief. She wants for Sarah, a girl who she admires and wishes she could be like, to be jealous of her though I doubt she was.  

As I said before, her being a werewolf is completely absurd in the context of this book.  Maybe her wolf side, refers to the dark side of herself.  I think that she not only killed Zach but also Jordan, her brother, and Yayeko Shoji, her teacher and teacher's family.  She is in denial that she herself is capable doing something so terrible. She has a hard time seeing that anything she does is wrong but, then again so do most teenagers.  I didn't like how it seemed like Micah was laughing at us, the reader, like we are the crazy ones instead of her.  It's obvious that she has mental problems, as she has seen or is seeing psychiatrist.  It's hard to say if she can distinguish what is reality and what she has made up in her mind.  Somewhere along the way her lines got blurred and she started believing the fibs.  In the a quote she says
"Not one of them [the shrinks] has ever suggested that maybe I lie because the world is better off the way I tell it."  pg. 264
 Pete, the white boy who was supposedly also a werewolf, only exists in her mind.  I think he is also another side to herself.  She needs someone to blame for the crimes she committed.  She wants sympathy, and because Pete is a side of herself, she depicts him in a way that makes him seem like an innocent victim.  The more we learn about him the younger he gets.  In the end when she says: 
"I wish - often wish- that I was not what I am, not who I am ... I liked having a future.  I want it back."  pg.298
I believe that she is telling her story from prison and her parents have abandoned her because of what she did.

 I guess one of the things I did like about this book was that it allows readers to draw their own conclusions about what is truth and what is fiction.  The author did a good job at making you think the book was one thing while it turned into something completely different.  I found this book to be frustrating and infuriating but also funny in some ways.  Some of the obvious lies made me laugh out loud.  After finishing this book, I couldn't stop thinking and speculating about what did or didn't or could've happened.  In a way, isn't that a sign of a good book or at least good writing?  I really liked the concept and thought that it was executed well.  But to me, a book not only has to be good but also has to be one I would want to revisit later and quite frankly I would not read this book again.


I found this interesting for those of you who care.  There was some controversy surrounding this book when it was first released.  As you know, Micah is described as being half black with short curly hair and darker skin.  Originally, the book had a white girl on the cover.  Readers didn't like that and Larbalestier got a lot of e-mails about why she allowed this to happen. Personally, I like the changed cover and it is better depiction of Micah, though it is still not how I envision her.  The author's side of the story is here.  She was also interviewed by RACEBENDING.COM


MissJones said...

When I first started this book, I had high hopes. I expected it to be a story of teen angst and maladjustment that would flourish into something with a really poetic message. Not only were those hopes dashed, but so were the ones I had about this just being a good book.

To start, I will say it was not a total failure. Some themes of dealing with grief as a youth, unrequited love, sexual experimentation, and familial problems did infuse some depth into the characters and the book. I appreciated how the book took the time to show the different angles of grief, including from the first person narrator, to her peers, parents, teachers, and the individuals at the funeral. It painted a story that could likely relate to any teenager that has ever lost someone, which is probably hard to do since every teenager thinks they are an individual….

Oops, did I say that out loud? Sadly, this book did bring out my adverse feelings about teenagers in the worst possible way. Not only is this girl a liar, she is incessantly self-conscious, spineless, needy, and selfish. At many times throughout the book, I felt she painted herself as the victim and that no one understood her (or even tried to). I lost my patience with her very quickly, and I lost it entirely when she said she was a werewolf. A werewolf? Really? Granted, if that was the case, I can understand somewhat. But honestly, if you were secretly a werewolf and had it under control, don’t you think you would be a little more brave, sexy, self-assured maybe?

Finally, the part of the book I disliked the most what the handling of Jordan’s story. I think it is more than obvious that she killed him, but what’s with the three different stories? I blame this one on the author and not the character. I think she was trying to be clever, but it ended up being confusing and annoying.

Overall, I give this 2/5 stars. I do have to say that the writing style and character development were very professional. Nevertheless, it only harms the book when the narrator acts like the audience are a bunch of idiots.

Sunshine said...

I agree on the werewolf thing! After I read that part, I put the book down and had the same reaction. "Really? Seriously? Are you serious?"
I also agree that Jordan's story was pretty confusing ... was he real or not?

Renegade Nova said...

Well, I jumped into the book with low expectations, but it was actually ok. Well until the end after she actually talks to Pete. It went downhill quickly after that. I loved the was she explained Micahs senses and her sensations. There were parts where I just wanted to slap Micah with the book tho. Sometimes she got annoying.
I agree on the Jordan thing too. Was he real or not? Did Micah kill him? Too many unanswered questions.

~D.A. Phoenix~ said...

Okay so i read this book in a day or so...not even that really. I found it irritating, slow and a little absurd. Sure these are feelings that we all have felt at some point in our lives...not just as teenagers but i was in no way sympathetic or felt that I related to Micah in any way whatsoever.

The werewolf revelation was completely out of left field. I mean really random. I didn't like the pacing. The "before" "after" "after thing got really annoying...quickly. I didn't believe a word she said...after all she said in the beginning that she was a liar. Then end little to neatly wrapped up for my taste. She just went off to college.? Really.? In short I didn't like it..not at all...

MissJones said...

lmao, loving the feedback. I wasn't sure what other people would think of the book. I think, overall, Micah didn't come across as a character to sympathize with. I think it is so important to have clear protagonists and antagonists. Micah was neither, so there was no clear way to feel about her. It just resulted in a lot of annoyance and impatience.

~D.A. Phoenix~ said...

I agree with you completely. Characters don't have to be all good or all bad but at their root you should be able to understand them...identify with them. If you don't have good characters...your book fails... epically fails

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