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Liar Paperback – December 21, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—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.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA END --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“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

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599905191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599905198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Invisible Pam TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
LIAR is a book about Micah, a girl for whom, and from whom, the truth doesn't easily come. Her family is crazy-odd, and not surprisingly she has problems fitting in at school and even at home.

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'.

Elements:::

"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.
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Liar tells the story of Micah, a socially invisible girl who excels at lying more than at anything else. When her boyfriend Zach - or is he her boyfriend? - disappears and days later the police finds his body, Micah's whole school is in uproar. How'd he die? Who killed him? Was it his girlfriend? Did he have other girlfriends? Is Micah one of them? Is everything Micah says a lie? Yes? No? And from then on you're thrown headfirst into one of the best rides you'll ever go for.

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?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Liar is an interactive book. You won't realize it until you're halfway through it, but the story isn't just about Micha (a compulsive liar), it is also about you. In the first paragraph Micha informs you that she never tells the truth, but this time (for you) she'll make an exception. As Micha starts to recount the events surrounding the mysterious murder of her boyfriend you are forced to ask yourself which parts are true and which are not. The story oscillates between the real world and the paranormal, only to ground itself in a confession of lies (which of course is not very grounding). And all along you find yourself wondering what to believe. Not only is this book expertly plotted (I am amazed at Larbalestier's ability to weave lies and truth together to fluidly), but LIAR forces you to become an active participant. As the narrative unfolds you find yourself saying: Is that true? No way! Oh maybe that part is real. Oh wait, that make sense taking into account what she said in the second chapter. And so on. When the novel ends you wonder if any of it is true, and if the whole book is a lie. And there in lies the paradox. Because - yes - all of it is a lie. Every book and work of fiction that we read is a lie. None of these stories are true. An perhaps that's part of the point. LIAR masterfully pulls back the veil between reality and fiction and you realize that this story has come alive - because you - here in "the real world" have become a part of the story. And in the end the question isn't - is Micha telling the truth - so much as what do you choose to believe. The book is about you.
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