Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book Cover: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: contemporary YA, mystery
Publisher: Hot Key Books
DOP: May 15th, 2014
Pages: 225
Stars: 4.5/5
ISBN: 978-1-4714-0398-9

Cadence Sinclair Eastman spends each summer on the family island, Beechwood Island in Massachusetts. She’s the oldest grandchild of the Sinclair family, whom are rich, blonde and beautiful. They’re exactly what you expect a rich family to be and along with her cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Johnny’s friend Gat, they are called The Liars. They have the time of their lives until summer fifteen comes along…

Note of warning:

Before you continue reading this review, I have to give you a warning concerning this book. It is very important that you don’t read any spoilers if you decide on reading this beautiful piece. Why? It would ruin absolutely everything. Honestly and most sincerely. Reviewing this book without spoilers is nearly impossible so I strongly suggest to stop reading this, buy the book, read it first and then come back to read my review and share your thoughts. However, if you haven’t made up your mind yet by the summary above, I can give away a tiny bit of the book without spoiling you too much. But be aware, this is your own responsibility!

– Spoiler Free Review –

We Were Liars takes you on an epic and mysterious journey towards finding the truth of what happened in summer fifteen. The writing is metaphorical and poetic and the style is beautifully thought out to support the chaotic mess that is Cadence. There were moments when I had to stop and re-read certain paragraphs to let the feeling sink in and appreciate it at its fullest but not in a bad way (I always do this when I love the way an author phrased something).

I loved how E. Lockhart played with the style and broke apart sentences into different lines. Brilliant, although I understand it might annoy some people who don’t like the meaning of such a simple, but efficient, way of portraying a character’s personality and emotions. Things like these give me butterflies in my stomach because sometimes, a character is more than the words you are presented with; sometimes it’s all about reading between the lines, fill up the voids and figure out  the meaning of broken apart sentences.

However, as much as I loved the style, metaphors and the poetic feeling of the story, I had a hard time finding a connection with the characters. They came across as selfish, arrogant, naïve (so, so, SO naïve) and as stereotyped rich teenagers that I was so disappointed with them at first, although in hindsight, I kind of understand why they were acting the way they did but that wasn’t good enough for me to accept them.

I suppose I could easily say this book was more plot driven than spending time on character development and for once, get ready for a shock, it’s something that doesn’t bother me at all now I have finished it.

Big gasp!

I was more captured with the mysteriousness of the whole story than its characters. Although I had figured out most of it by the time ‘the truth’ part began, I have to say that the hints were cleverly hidden and would have easily been read over if you just picked up the book knowing nothing about it except for the summary.

This book is perfect for a quick read between monster books and you still want something decent and challenging (plot-wise) to read. Overall, this deserves a four-point-five on the five stars’ scale.


Oh where to begin? So many things happened in such a tiny book! Maybe I should start with Cadence. Although I disliked her as a character in the book, I enjoyed reading the metaphors describing  her emotions. Most of them, at least. My favourite metaphor was the one when her dad left:

 “Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest.
– E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 2, page 5

I didn’t see that one coming. I was in shock, thinking she had been shot for real but once it became clear it was just a metaphor describing her pain, I realised Cadence is dramatic, if not over-dramatic. This was soon backed up by the way she described her headaches.

Welcome to my skull. A truck is rolling over the bones of my neck and head. The vertebrae break, the brains pop and ooze.
– E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 13, page 33

And I was right, the moment she started using blood in her descriptions. Although I should have realised by the time it was just another metaphor of her pain, it confused me a lot, making me re-read it again to make sure I had read it correctly. I thought it was gross and wondered: was this really necessary? Did Cadence really have to describe it like this? It made me feel awkward, especially since it was repeated later in the book.

I bled down my palms… When blood dripped on my bare feet or poured over the book I was reading, he was kind. He wrapped my wrists in soft white gauze…
– E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 11, page 29-30

On a different note, plot-wise, I wasn’t shocked by the ending although I hadn’t come up with it either. With all the mysteriousness and the hype on the internet, my brains worked at a 200% speed rate while I went through the pages, coming up with multiple theories with each new chapter. I strongly believed Gat had died at the beginning, but then, hints were given and I thought, how is that possible? If Gat had died, how would they be able to talk to him? At some point, I decided they were all dead. All the Liars gone. And then, I just gave up and read until I found out. Despite the ending being a bit anti-climatic for me (because I sort of already knew) it was the journey towards the ending that I enjoyed. The mysteriousness, the hints, it all fit like a puzzle afterwards and that’s worth everything. I’ll give you a peek into my head while I read this beautifully written book.

The next quote supported my theory that Gat wasn’t alive and had mysteriously died. Why else wouldn’t he be there? Why else ignore her and leave her in her pain?

He didn’t write, either.
Weren’t we in love?
Weren’t we?
The bottom line is, Gat bailed when I got hurt.

I never got an explanation.
I just know he left me.”

– E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 12, page 33

But then he appeared again after a few chapters, completely erasing my theory. Tough luck. But then something happened. Something very strange and it wasn’t until this happened, my brains went into overdrive, slowly connecting the little dots. It is a conversation between Cadence and her aunt Carrie.

“‘I start wandering. It’s good exercise. Have you seen Johnny?
 ‘Not in the middle of the night.’
‘He’s up when I’m up, sometimes. Do you see him?’
‘You could look if his light is on.’
‘Will has such bad nightmares.’”
-E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 29, page 79

 “‘Did you get back to sleep?’ I ask my aunt as we head toward the kitchen. ‘Last night, was Johnny up?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ she says.
-E. Lockhart, We Were Liars, chapter 34, page 90

Instant brain explosion! WHAT. THE. ACTUAL?! I was more than shocked, seriously considering aunt Carrie’s own mental health at that moment (and the way the mums behaved, I had a weak theory about them too). But then, I started to think and realised something…something that had happened a few chapters ago. Right before Cadence came back to the island, she had a phone call from her little cousin Taft and slowly but steadily, the pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fit.

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s in search of a mysterious story that doesn’t take days to unravel and who wants to squeeze it in between other books. It’s a good summer read when you spend some time at the pool or at the beach. There are so many little hints that I would also recommend you reading it twice. It will reveal so much because suddenly, every little detail pops out and you will look at it wide-eyed and think: WOW. How clever is this?! How come I didn’t notice this the first time?!


4 thoughts on “Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart”

    1. Thank you! I had to think about it for a bit too before I could write this. I had mixed feelings. I loved it in so many ways but I was really disappointed with the characters and I couldn’t make up my mind whether this was important or not for the review. I usually take this into account but this book was so different. I don’t know. I still find it hard to express my love for this book because it’s based on the feelings I experienced with the structure and the poetic writing. Thank you for the reply 🙂

  1. Can I just say I loved this book and loved your review even more? You have such a distinct style of writing reviews that makes me feel like I am having a discussion with you. And really, this book was a brilliant read. And like you said about the metaphors, I was stumped quite a few times when Cadence describes things metaphorically. I mean “Is it real? Is it really happening?” I am unsure what exactly is this genre called.

    1. Aww, thank you so much! I have a hard time figuring out the genre as well. Maybe a mystery with lots and lots of metaphors, haha. I did have a lot of trouble figuring out whether something was real or not. Especially when the dad left I seriously thought she got shot because at that point of the story, you have no idea what’s going on. It confused me often and normally that would annoy me up to the point I stop reading, but not with We Were Liars. The writing style is unique like that :p

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