Overall Rating: 4/5
Cady Sinclair has always looked forward to her summers. Summer is when the wealthy Sinclairs gather on their private family island, providing each member with an escape from their troubles. But after a horrific accident one year, Cady finds herself being kept away from the island and from her best friends – the Liars – with minimal recollection of the events that passed. Two years after the incident, she returns determined to find answers, battling the demons that persist within her mind as she tries to piece together what truly occurred over those pivotal months – ones that have irrevocably changed the Sinclair family. We Were Liars explores the process of healing from trauma in a fast-paced psychological thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
Lockhart weaves together a mysterious and gripping story – after all, the “wealthy family with dark secrets” archetype has long proven successful in film and literature, but the writing and plot development itself is a hit or miss. The conversational tone and short chapters make it very readable – you could easily finish this book in a day, perhaps even one sitting. Cady is a highly unreliable narrator which is an element I love in my thrillers due to the additional layer of uncertainty and suspense that it creates within the story. Moreover, the other characters in the novel are capricious in their own right – be it due to their own traumatic experiences or simply the complex familial relationships, but ultimately it all comes together to create a deliciously twisted tale that you cannot put down.
On the other hand, I really struggled with my feelings around the writing style. It is very theatrical and over the top – while this may have been intended to reflect Cady’s internal turmoil, it almost confused and overwhelmed the story at points. It felt like an attempt to enforce a stream of consciousness style of writing that did not feel authentic. I can see this being highly subjective and I’m sure there are many readers who enjoyed the grand metaphors but I would have preferred more of an emphasis on developing the characters and plot further. Apart from Cady, Gat, and perhaps Cady’s mother, the characters were fairly one-dimensional and most of them (except Gat) were not very likable. Perhaps it’s the current political climate, but the poor rich white girl narrative was harder to swallow and sympathize with for the bulk of the novel.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast and engaging mystery – it’s a perfect weekend or beach read. If you can get past the fragmented sentences and hyperbolic language, this book is quite the whirlwind and it is worth checking out. Let me know what you think in the comments below!