Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Synopsis for We Were Liars (from Goodreads):A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Series: We Were Liars
Author: E Lockhart
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Coming of Age, Family
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2014 – May 2022
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1); Audiobook (#1, #2)
**This post was originally published as a standalone review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
If you haven’t heard of We Were Liars, you were probably living under a rock for most of 2014. But in all honesty, it’s ok if you haven’t–I actually stumbled upon it by accident and then discovered that people have been raving about it for the last 7 months. So I put it on hold and had to wait a very long time to get it and by the time I did, it had won the 2014 Goodreads Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. So when I finally picked it up, I was excited to read it to see what all the fuss was about.
It is important to know that the lead narrators in both books are unreliable narrators. I mean, “liar” is in the title of both books so you have to know that deception is about. But you might not expect that your narrator is possibly lying to you.
However, I still felt a little lost as I was reading due to Candace’s way of describing things. At times I found it hard to know when she was being literal and when she was using metaphors.
When to Read Family of Liars (#0):
So I read We Were Liars YEARS ago and couldn’t remember the finer details of it. Like did I finish it wanting a book about the family when the aunts were younger? I don’t think so.
I picked up Family of Liars and then reread We Were Liars right after and my suggested reading order is (#1) We Were Liars and then read (#0) Family of Liars. Family of Liars gives away the big secret of We Were Liars within the first few chapters and I think that ruins some of the thrill of We Were Liars. Plus, the events of We Were Liars are pretty mutually exclusive from Family of Liars. They really don’t share much in common and not much of the events of Family of Liars is alluded to in We Were Liars (probably because the “prequel” came years later).
Suggested Reading order: We Were Liars (#1), Family of Liars (#0)
I suppose that is part of the charm of a book title “We Were Liars”: is Candace really telling the truth or is she lying? And it was fun trying to figure out what was really going on the island and that was when I really got into the book.
Why I have mixed feelings is because I read a very similar book to this called Unravel by Calia Read earlier this year. That book blew my socks off and has a very similar premise to We Were Liars (#1) in that you are trying to find out the truth about the lead’s life. I think that if I read We Were Liars first, I would have been much more impressed with it than I actually was. Unravel was much more enjoyable to me because I think its execution is a tad more put together (meaning, I never felt lost in the prose of Unravel as I did in We Were Liars).
And in Family of Liars (#0), I felt like we were just going for shock factor at times.
When I started reading it, I felt a little lost and a little overwhelmed with all the character names and their family relationships. But, there is a very handy family tree at the start of the book that quickly sorted that all out for me.
I wouldn’t say I loved any particular characters and I’m not entirely sure that you are supposed to. Most of them fall into the stereotypical rich 1%ers and I think that just sets them up to be unlikable.
It isn’t really a focus, more of a factor that helps you understand the motive of the lead narrators.
My Audiobook Experience:
I read Family of Liars as an audiobook and then did part of my reread of We Were Liars as an audiobook as well. The productions were good and they were easy to listen to. I just struggled remembering all the characters and their relations without the family tree in front of my.
Series Rating: 3.5/5
Family of Liars 3/5 | We Were Liars 4/5
If you have never read a book with an unreliable narrator or a rebuilding the past type of book, I think this is a great one to get your feet wet with!
Read if You Like: unreliable narrators; family drama
Avoid if You: dislike unreliable narrators; mysteries
- Unravel by Calia Read (Fairfax Series #1)