Cassy's Reviews > Liar

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
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's review
Jan 15, 2010

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bookshelves: ya-lit, books-in-2010
Read in January, 2010 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I expected a lot more out of this book and was really disappointed when I didn't get it. I also felt like it was just a werewolf version of Peeps but not as well done. The problem was I was waiting for her to be an individual and she came off as just a less good version of her husband.

Micah is hiding a secret. She's a werewolf living in the city, something you don't find out until halfway through the book. She also lies about everything, despite telling you that she was going to tell you (the reader) the truth. When her boyfriend dies, she continues to lie about everything. But the problem is that, slowly but surely, the truth starts to come out.

Micah is a product of her environment. Her grandmother lies to her father, her father to her, their family to the world. Everything she knows is a lie, keeping a big secret. The fact that she lies to everyone she knows is not really a surprise because what else is she going to learn? I actually liked that part of the book. Larbalestier gave us a clear reason as to where this was coming from. It wasn't just a personality trait; Micah learned to lie.

Her parents really bothered me. They really resented her for things beyond her control. Being a wolf wasn't something she asked for. There was nothing she could really do to control the fact that she had been born with this gene. She took Birth Control to keep herself from changing once a month. At the end of the book, however, the abandon her because of her sickness. Micah wants nothing more than to understand. She wants to know WHY she's a werewolf, WHY she was born that way. She wants to go to school, to graduate, to go to college and study biology. She wants to be more than all of her cousins, most of whom can't read. Her parents can't seem to understand that and abandon her on the farm (where her Great and and Grandmother are. She calls them the Greats.) The Greats also want her to live on the farm, saying it's unnatural to live in the city and be a wolf.

Throughout the book we see Micah dealing with her grief. Her quasi-boyfriend, Zach, had died. No one knew about the relationship but it was intense. Zach had been dating someone else in public but Micah in secret and it all came out when he was murdered. Micah was never popular, keeping to herself and trying to remain invisible but having all this attention on her made things different. You watched her accept who she was more, to accept her role in the world. She stops being the shy girl who runs in her free time to a girl who is a wolf part time and could take anything around her. She turns into the fiercely independent girl, which was really interesting to watch.

The things that bother me are mainly what didn't happen. She had a brother. Then she told us she made him up. Then she tells us that she HAD a brother but he died and we're made to believe that she killed him by accident. By the end of the book we're really not sure if he's real/not real or if he was real, how he died. It was just this possible mythical character for her to blame all her problems on. I hated that we never really know because he seemed kind of pointless. I think you could have understood a lot more about Micah had we known what was actually going on.

The other thing that bothered me was her parents were jerks. I mean, they were horrible but instead of being this interesting dynamic, it fell flat. They were just jerks and it really didn't add much to the story. I found myself wondering what was the point of making them like that, of allowing themselves to hate Micah like they did. In the end, Micah believed they hated her and as the reader, you kind of did too.

I was expecting some sort of big ending. It's a book about a kid who lies all the time. It is the most unreliable narrator you get and you can change the entire dynamic of the story with something like that. Larbalestier didn't really do that. Micah's lies, at the end of the day, weren't really that big of a deal. They were wrong and some a little ridiculous but, other than keeping it a secret that she was a werewolf, nothing that really did much for the story (except for the brother thing.) Throughout the book she would lie to the reader and then two pages later tell us that she had lied. It just didn't do anything for me.

Biology was a big factor in this book. It was the Biology teacher she eventually told, biology that she studied and she figured out it was probably genetic. But the research behind it was absent. Peeps was done the same way. Vampirism was a parasite that would eventually kill you in a couple hundred/thousand years. But Westerfeld put chapters in about parasites and was making the biology interesting along the way. I would of rather had that in Liar but I kept HEARING how it was probably biological, not mythological, but I was never really shown. It was as if she wanted to duplicate Peeps with werewolves but got lazy.

The last thing that really bothered me was Zach never really seemed to live up to his potential. Ok, so he was dead and living up to anything would have been kind of hard for him. But Micah kept telling us how much of an effect he had on her, how much he changed her. I expected him to be something a little more than normal but he wasn't. He was a too obvious plot device. You never really learned anything about a character who was, in essence, talked about the entire book.

Overall, I was underwhelmed. I was expecting a lot out of this book that just didn't happen. She could have gone so many places with it and, at the end of the day, she just didn't. I felt like I read half of a book. Sadly, it's one of the better written Werewolf books out there.

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Reading Progress

01/11/2010 page 79
21.01% "The first two days of my freshman year I was a boy."
01/13/2010 page 253
67.29% "There, I've said it. The heart of all my lies. Of all the family's lies."

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