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Liar Hardcover – September 29, 2009
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From School Library Journal
“Readers will get chills paging through Larbalestier’s suspenseful novel about a compulsive liar who becomes a suspect in her boyfriend’s murder. Micah admits it is hard to believe a girl who has pretended “she’s a boy, a hermaphrodite, or that her daddy’s an arms dealer,” but when Zach, the popular boy who was secretly seeing her “after hours,” is found dead, Micah claims innocence, promising to tell readers her story with “No lies, no omissions.” But the supernatural tale she tells may be her wildest yet. Micah composes her story in short sections labeled “Before” and “After” (the murder), as well as “History of Me,” “Family History” and other categories. This is a well-paced novel with a masterfully constructed unreliable narrator, confessing to lies she has told readers along the way (“You buy everything, don’t you? You make it too easy”) and explaining how she makes lies believable. Could Micah really be innocent, or is she a confused girl who killed out of jealousy? Is she even human? Readers will be guessing and theorizing long after they’ve finished this gripping story.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Micah declares herself a liar and calls her own reliability as a narrator into question on the first page of this dark, gripping page-turner. When Zach, the boy with whom she might or might not be romantically involved, goes missing, Micah tries to tell the story of her tortured relationships with Zach and her classmates, teachers and family. Is Micah a killer? Quite possibly yes, but she weaves lies and truths together so artfully that even as she admits her deceptions, she becomes an increasingly compelling and sympathetic character. Micah’s fractured first-person narrative skips around chronologically, further deepening the confusion about what has really happened in her life. The constant reversals keep readers guessing, a plot device that threatens to wear thin by the halfway point of the novel, but Larbalestier moves the plot nimbly past this moment, creating such an engrossing story of teenage life on the margins that even readers familiar with her Magic or Madness trilogy might not see the supernatural twist (or not) coming. In the end, it calls to mind I Am the Cheese with its hermetic wiliness.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“* Biracial Micah Wilkins, 17, is the quintessential unreliable narrator. On the first page, she readily admits she's a liar though now she wants to tell her story straight. She attends a progressive private high school in New York City. She's a bit peculiar, with extra-human speed and sense of smell, and has few friends. After another student, a popular senior named Zach, is found brutally murdered, it comes to light that he and Micah had a relationship outside of school. Now she is considered a suspect. Her suspenseful, supernatural tale is engrossing and readers will be tempted to fly through it, though the wise will be wary of her spin and read carefully for subtle slipups and foreshadowing. The chilling story that she spins will have readers' hearts racing as in three sections she goes from "Telling the Truth," to "Telling the True Truth," to "Telling the Actual Real Truth," uncovering previous lies and revealing bizarre occurrences in the process. Micah's narrative is convincing, and in the end readers will delve into the psyche of a troubled teen and decide for themselves the truths and lies. This one is sure to generate discussion.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
Read a pivotal scene from Liar in this chapter excerpt [PDF].
Top Customer Reviews
Told in first person, Micah begins her story by warning us that she's a liar. She promises that while she can't stop lying to everyone in her life, that she intends to tell us the truth. I, personally, thought this untrustworthiness provided an interesting element to the story, and didn't quite find it as annoying as other reviewers have. I thought she was earnest in 'trying' to be truthful, but as is the case with liars you can't really trust them regardless of what the claim, even when they claim they were lying.
Now all of this, the lying, the odd family, might not have become such a problem except Micah's secret boyfriend, Zach, goes missing and then shows up dead. [Secret? You bet. You see Micah's boyfriend was a popular boy who had another, prettier girl, Sarah, who he hung out with at least half the time. But when it came to skipping school or playing hoops, or just on the other days, then he was Micah's friend.]
In any case, the murder happens pretty early on and is the pivotal point around which the rest of the book unfolds. It's how we, and Micah, come to know Zach's other girlfriend, and how we get to know more about the 'family disease'.
"Liar" is a convoluted story with more than one mystery boiling in the pot. It's told in a first person chatty style by a character who admits she's a liar. Justine Larbalestier is more than competent when it comes to being able to do this voice justice, and I look forward to reading more of her work.
That said, I didn't find the characters in this book terribly engrossing.Read more ›
To say Micah is an unreliable narrator would be an understatement. Micah twists the facts, changes them just so she can decide to go back and make them what they were before; she lies to her parents, lies to her "friends", lies to you, and then she apologizes for lying just so she can lie some more.
And you know what? You'll love it. You'll be anxious to see what she's lied to you next. You'll feel this drive to keep reading on, to swallow the book whole just to see what was a figment of Micah's imagination, what was a figment of yours and how the hell did she convince you, the people around her and even herself that such an absurd thing had come to pass.
By its end, Micah may have confessed to thousands of things that she may or may not have done, but it's not conclusive. You can't possibly know for sure that what she says is real is indeed and you can't trust your own judgement because the person telling you the whole story is about as reliable as a psychopath. Which, actually, Micah may as well be one. Or maybe she'll convince you that you're one yourself.
The beauty of it is that lying or telling the truth, you'll want to believe Micah because just like everybody else, you want it to be the truth.
And who's to say it isn't?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's not for me to speak to the representation in this book (the protagonist is a biracial girl) so I won't comment on that. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Meghan
Very well done. Completely surprising and unexpected twist. I can imagine it won't be for everyone as the story takes a drastic turn, but for me, it was perfectly executed and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by MomReaderShopperNJ
Micah is a compulsive liar. She had lied all her life, but now her boyfriend is dead and she needs to tell the truth to someone, even if nobody believes her. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Katie
Justine Larbalestier's LIAR had me guessing from beginning to end and beyond. Even after setting this book down, my mind is racing with questions. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Heather Di
I wanted to like this book. I kept reading waiting for it to come together, or for the lies to lead to a greater truth, one that maybe even the Micah didn't realise it was... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Zaphod
SPOILER ALERT INCLUDED.
I liked this book at first as a first person narrative novel in the realm of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (though not nearly as well... Read more
There are too many delectable parts of this book to discuss here because it would give too much away! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kendra Y.