I did enjoy We Were Liars and I thought it was a fairly sophisticated piece of YA fiction, but there were aspects that took me a while to get into.
The book is written in a kind of dreamy and slightly confusing way, and left me with the feeling that I never really knew what was going on. A lot of things are alluded to and hinted at, but nothing is properly explained until right at the end. I’m sure this was the author’s intention - after all the description of the book mentions secrets and lies and the narrator is a self-confessed liar and amnesiac - and once I decided to just stop fretting about it, I enjoyed the experience a lot more!
In addition to the dreamy plot, the writing was very choppy and fragmented and does that thing that you see in poetry sometimes
where the writer
fragments sentences over different lines
to lend their words
than they in fact
This was where We Were Liars lost a star because I actually think the book would have worked better without this mechanism. The way the author had of describing people and situations and the vocabulary she used was powerful enough without doing this and it just made me want to fiddle with my Kindle to see if the settings had gone wonky.
The relationship between the cousins was very interesting, especially the way their friendship only existed on the island and they never saw each other throughout the rest of the year. It gave the book a nice claustrophobic feel that added to the tension. It did take a little while for me to engage with the cousins - they were kind of pretentious and spoilt (Gat excepted). I get that you don’t have to be poor to have bad things happen to you, but with the sort of level of privilege where you get to spend your summer on a private island it takes a lot for an author to get you to really care about what their characters are going through. I did warm up to them after a while, though.
The characters I found really interesting were the three mothers and the grandfather. There was this whole King Lear dynamic going on which was all tense and alcoholic and nightmarish.
All in all I think this is one of those Marmite books. You’ll enjoy it or it'll irritate the pants off you. I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes a lot of intrigue and reads a lot of poetry. If you like your books fast-paced and straight-talking, I’d give it a miss.