Google+ YA Romantics: Compare and Contrast: Liars, Liars

Monday, May 12, 2014

Compare and Contrast: Liars, Liars

This week, I'll be doing two different themed Compare and Contrast reviews. 

Today, I'll be looking at three May books about liars:  We Were Liars by e. lockhart, Broken, Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn and Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu.

We Were Liars
by e. lockhart
To be published on May 13, 2014
by Delacorte BFYR

Source: Thanks to Delacorte for allowing me to read this on Netgalley

Synopsis 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.
True love.
The truth.

My take on the book: I loved this, and I'm not usually a fan of books that set out to confuse me. Often, books like that spend so much time on set-up and misdirection that I feel the story suffers. I don't think that's the case here, but I'll warn you that this isn't the kind of book that will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. We Were Liars is the kind of book that will keep you wondering what exactly is going on, and after you find out, wondering what you should think about it. The timeline is confusing at times, perhaps deliberately so. Cadence, the narrator, can't always remember what's happening or has happened and isn't sure why she can't remember. I loved the way that the writing reflects her mental state -- cagey and vague at times, and over the top at other times.

This devious little book won't be for everyone -- I was reading it at the same time as a friend who was not pleased with it -- but I loved it. I had some theories about what had happened or was going to happen, and all of them were dead wrong. If you want to know my theories, you can check them out under spoiler protection on Goodreads.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
To be published by Feiwel and Friends
on May 13, 2014

Source: Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads: Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?  When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it. Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is? 

My take:  Okay, do you see this pretty pastel cover and that synopsis that describes adorable-sounding hijinks? Throw that right out the window. This is not a cute and breezy book about mistakes and mistaken identity. This is a book about plotting and scheming and ruining other people's lives on purpose. I was completely taken by surprise by this, and as a result, had some trouble adjusting at first. I think if I'd gone in with different expectations, I might have enjoyed this book more.

As the blurb indicates, Gemma has "wronged" Hallie and her entire family. Years later, she claims to feel remorse for what she's done. Then, as the blurb also indicates, she runs into Hallie and her brother and apologizes for her misdeeds pretends that she is someone else. Why? So she can ruin their lives some more show them what a great person she really is. Okaaay...

Still, if you clear your mind of any preconceptions and go into this book expecting something dark and twisty, this book could be an interesting start to a contemporary trilogy.

Life by Committee
by Corey Ann Haydu
To be published by Katherine Tegen
on May 13, 2014

Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis from Goodreads: Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.
My take: This book also had a bit of dissonance going on. I really liked the substance of the story -- Tabitha is the child of parents who had her when they were still in high school. Now, sixteen years later, her parents are expecting another baby. To add to Tab's confusion, she's decided that she likes boys and wants to pay more attention to her appearance. Sounds harmless, but it seems that eyeliner and v-necked shirts are considered slut-wear in Vermont, because all her serious-minded friends cast her out of their circle. Enter Joe. I will never understand what Tab sees in Joe. He's a) skeevy and a Huge Liar, b) has a girlfriend, c) wants to keep the girlfriend and have Tab as his secret side-dish. Normally, cheating plots are something I avoid. But I think that Joe's emotional and romantic unavailability was exactly his appeal to Tabitha. I think that she feels deeply ambivalent about love and romance -- she wants it, but she's scared.  

All this I really liked. What I didn't love about the book was the whole "Life by Committee" aspect, in which Tabitha finds this random website where total strangers make decisions about each other's lives. Now, we're not talking about "what color should I paint my nails?" kinds of decisions. We're talking about "should I marry my boyfriend?" or "what should I do about my father's drug problem?" kind of decisions. Exactly the kind of stuff you should talk about with someone who actually knows you leave to random strangers to decide. Oh, and if you don't do what The Committee wants, they blackmail you. Nice. I didn't love that aspect of the story, which felt gimmicky to me, and served to make Tabitha do some pretty awful things. That aside, I do recommend this for its authentic take on friendship and growing up.

Tell me in comments: how do you feel about books that center around lying?

On Wednesday, I'll be doing another Compare and Contrast on four books that take place on islands: Things I Can't Forget by Huntley Fitzpatrick, We Were Liars by e. lockhart, Nantucket Red by Leila Howland, and The Sound by Sarah Alderson. Hope you can stop by!


  1. I still need to read We Were Liars! I'm not sure I will like it, but it's definitely one that I'm going to have to read to find out, because everyone has said you can't talk about it. As previously discussed, I'm skipping Broken Fences etc. That is not a story I need in my life. As for Life By Committee, I'm not sure that's for me either. The website concept just seems so strange to me, and I'm not sure I would buy it. Although I think books that are authentic about teen issues and growing up are wonderful, I can't do cheating plots like this one. I already loathe this Joe characters. It doesn't sound like we're supposed to like him, but I need a happy romance. I'm shallow like that. Maybe I'll appreciate this more when I want teens, but for now, I'm all about indulging. HA. Thanks for these reviews!

    1. I think all these three books have provoked strong reviewer responses, which is always fun.
      The romance in LBC does improve, but not until the very end, so if you want romance, this is not your book. It's more a self-discovery thing..

  2. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed We Were Liars, it's definitely a divisive book. I really loved it, but I guessed the twist because there was so much hype I was like hawk eyed trying to find out clues, and I kind of wish I'd gone into it blind. I'm really excited to read Life By Committee and Broken Hearts too. Great post, I love this idea of comparing and contrasting!

    1. I was reading it at the same time as a friend and she'd text me and complain about it and I'd be like, "yes, but..."

      It's hard for me to explain her objections without spoilers, but I think the style kept her from connecting with the main character and that also she felt that certain characters were made to seem sympathetic when they shouldn't have been.

  3. I too, liked the friendship aspect of LBC, but not the committee part--it went to extremes

    1. Agree. I would have liked the book more without it.

  4. I love books with unreliable narrators, so lying characters are a win for me. I've read WE WERE LIARS and LIFE BY COMMITTEE (and loved them both), so I'm definitely bumping Finn's book up on my TBR pile!

    1. Ooh, then definitely that book will be great for you. Let me know what you think!

  5. I wasn't interested in Broken Hearts, Fences, and other things tho mend until you said it was dark and twisty. I'm actually looking forward to all three of these now. Seriously can not wait for We Were Liars.

  6. I really like the whole compare/contrast theme idea, it's fresh and fun! I haven't read any of these books yet but the only one I plan to read is, We Were Liars. I'm just hearing about the other two now and they don't sound like anything I'd read.

  7. I really want to read We Were Liars, because, heck, I've seen SO many cryptic reviews and I'm quite desperate to know what happens! Haha! I haven't really read many books about lying. Would The Killing Woods count? There was actually a lot of lying going on there, but I'm not so sure it was the centre of the plot. Hmm. I'm mostly fine with reading about any plot device, so long as it's well written. ;)

  8. I think all of these sound super interesting. Glad for the warning on Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend because I would have anticipated a lighter book based on the cover as well. It does sound like it might be on the mean side for my taste so I'd more probably check out We Were Liars first.

  9. I haven't read any of these, but I do have to say that looking at the cover of "Broken Hearts, Fences to Mend" I would think it was a sweet book about forgiveness. Obviously I would have been wrong. I love the reviews, and really want to read "We Were Liars". Thanks for the heads up on these though :). I think books about lying are very interesting if written well. I am always blown away by what people will believe. I think that is why I like reading them. Lying to me is one of the worst things a person can do to me (personally, in "real" life). I would rather have someone tell me out right they don't like "me" or what I am "doing" than lie to me. Once I find out someone has lied to me, I will probably never believe another word they say. I know sad, and judgmental, buy lying is just so unnecessary, but fascinating to read about. hehe! Boy, did any of that make any sense? hehe! Great Post!

  10. I'm not sure any of these books are for me, but I knew that We Were Liars and Life by Committee wouldn't be something I'd enjoy, but Broken Hearts looked like it would be cute and not so... devious? I think the fact that it is is sort of making me want to give it a try though and see what I think of it!

  11. Great post, Jen, as always. We Were Liars is on my wish list. It sounds so mysterious and I love such tales.

  12. I wasn't all that sure about We Were Liars, but I think I will keep an eye out for it at my library. I did like Broken Hearts, but I haven't read Life by Committee. It does sound good though. Great review! :)

  13. I'm sort of depressed about Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend. I did expect (& wanted) a light breezy novel and I definitely didn't want another series. At least I know what I'm getting myself into now and won't be as disappointed.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  14. My review of Life by Committee is being posted tomorrow and I wasn't a fan because of the LBC aspect. I just found that really strange, it wasn't what I was expecting the LBC to be and I found the assignments were really ridiculous at times. Plus, once I got to the sharing assembly, I realised that it had soooo many Mean Girls aspects to it that that was all I could see,

    I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED We Were Liars! I gave that 5++++++ stars because I thought it was beautiful. I didn't have a theory like you did, thank god you were wrong about that one, but I couldn't even get into my head what had happened. I thought someone might have tried to kill her because she was going to be the one to inherit because she was the first grandchild. I thought that one of the other family members might have tried to get her out the way. I think I would have preferred that to what actually happened.

    Broken Hearts is one I have heard nothing but bad things about. Keep hearing that the twist is something you see coming from very early on. I'm intrigued but don't think I will be reading it myself. Great post :)

  15. Ack. It's a good thing I haven't started Broken Hearts. I tend to be less forgiving than most, and the character seems like one that would be hard to forgive. Ugh.

    Thanks for this!

  16. Hmmm, I'm quite interested in We Were Liars, and I'm glad to hear you loved it!

  17. Hmmmm. I have all of these on my TBR list, and now you're really making me think! I'm most eager to read We Were Liars, honestly, so I'm happy to see that you enjoyed it. :)

  18. All of these are on my TBR, but I think you've convinced me to move the Broken Hearts up a bit on my Summer TBR. The whole plotting and scheming aspect really calls to me, lol.

  19. We Were Liars is one I'm dying to get my hands on. Sounds like a good read,

  20. Looking forward to reading We Were Liars!


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