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Review – Liar by Justine Larbalestier

by Justine Larbalestier
384 pages
Published September 29, 2009
Fiction, young adult

Micah, the main character in Liar by Justine Larbalestier, is just what the title of the book alludes to: a liar. She tells you right off the bat she’s a liar on the very first page:

My father is a liar and so am I.

But I’m not going to stop. I have to stop.

I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions.

That’s my promise.

This time I truly mean it.

The unreliable narrator? Awesome! I love those characters. Except this one doesn’t sit quite right with me, because you have to wonder as you read, Is she finally telling the truth? Is this the truth? And I know that’s the whole point of an unreliable narrator, but I can’t elaborate without giving you spoilers.

Like I mentioned, I can’t say much without giving away major plot points, but let me point out two things.

1. At about halfway through the book, the story took a turn that I thought was…unbelievable. Now, in order for an author to pull something like that off, they have to set the story up to be that kind of story, but the author didn’t do that for this particular plot point.

2. One of my blogging friends got to meet Justine Larbalestier in person, and Justine said that even she doesn’t know what all’s true in this story. On the one hand this completely appalls me, that an author wouldn’t know her own main character. Is this hypocritical of me, considering that I loved The Lace Reader (which, if you read this guest post, you’ll see that the story wasn’t really clear to her until the end)? Perhaps. But I thought The Lace Reader was fantastically woven, whereas Liar seemed to have more holes. On the other hand, I’m completely enamored with the fact the Justine Larbalestier doesn’t always know when Micah is lying, because I asked this very question at Book Group Expo two years ago to a panel of authors, and never received a satisfactory response (whether they, as the author, always knew when their main character was telling the truth).

I guess I also got frustrated when Micah showed obvious contempt for the reader, her audience:

I wanted to see if you would buy it. And you did.

You buy everything, don’t you?

You make it too easy.

I know it goes with her character, but it really bothered me, her obvious disdain for the reader. Her haughtiness at how trusting we would be of her. I lost interest in her story at that point, as any thread of interest I had in her was gone.

There were quite a few things I didn’t like about Liar, but I love the concept of the unreliable narrator.

Rating: 79 out of 100

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Fyrefly’s Book Blog

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Book source: This book was a gift from friends! Yay!

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