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A Soldier and a Liar

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In a world on the brink of war, four superpowered teens must learn to work together for peace in Caitlin Lochner's action-packed debut novel, A Soldier and A Liar.

Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. As a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager who is feared and shunned by the ungifted, this skill is essential to survival. Orchestrating her own imprisonment to escape military duty has only honed her ability to deceive others. But when rebels start attacking the city, Lai is dragged back into the fight with a new team of Nytes.

Thrown together with Jay, a self-conscious perfectionist consumed by the desire to be accepted; Al, a short-tempered fighter lying for the sake of revenge; and Erik, an amnesiac hell-bent on finding his memories and his place in the world, Lai realizes she's facing an entirely different kind of challenge--one that might just be impossible. But if this team can't learn to work together, the entire sector will be plunged into war.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published February 19, 2019

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Caitlin Lochner

2 books47 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 71 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
November 19, 2022
A Soldier and A Liar is a YA-Dystopian novel set in a world where supernaturally-gifted teens, known as Nytes, are feared and shunned by the rest of society.

The set-up of the world is similar to that of The Hunger Games, with different sectors living independently of one another. There's also dangerous beings on the outside that make travel outside the sectors dangerous.

The entire society is quite fractured, with the ungifted wanting to suppress, or eradicate the Nytes; rebel forces willing to fight back against the ungifted and a smaller faction wanting everyone to just get along.

Unsurprisingly, the government certainly doesn't mind using the Nytes when it works to their own advantage.

Lai Cathwell is a Nyte and a talented soldier, who in the beginning of the story is in prison, but not for the reasons people think.

When the military wants to re-recruit her to aid in a special mission against rebel forces, they send in a fellow soldier and Nyte, Jay, to try to convince her to join up.

Lai is initally unimpressed, but there's something about Jay that has her intrigued.

Ultimately, she decides to help and agrees to commit to the team, not just with Jay, but with two other fellow Nytes, Al and Erik. Together the four are set the task of eliminating the rebel threat and saving the sector from a long and brutal war.

I've had a copy of this book since it was initially released at the beginning of 2019. I love a good Dystopian story and the color scheme of this cover had me sold. I decided to pick it up recently as a backlist bump; my way of actually reading some of the books on my shelves.

I'm so happy that I did. I really enjoyed this story. From the very first chapter I was intrigued by the set-up of the world and the characters.

Lai, in particular, is the character I connect with the most. She's a bit of a wildcard and I enjoy that about her. You never really know what she is going to do. She's smart, strong and used to standing on her own, away from the maddening crowd.

I also really like Jay. He has a difficult relationship with his overbearing father and feels like he always has to be perfect. Even though he has excelled in his military career, is smart and capable, he still struggles a bit with self-consciousness.

Jay is selected to function as the team leader, which works quite well as the team members train together and learn to trust one another.

I loved the team training aspect. That's a trope I tend to enjoy, so I was happy to find it here. The missions were dangerous and full of action. I also like the layers of this world that keep being revealed; like peeling back the layers of an onion.

This ended on a great cliffhanger and I have already started the second book, which is equally as compelling.

Overall, I had such a fun time reading this. I am always so happy when I randomly pluck a book off the shelf and it turns out to be a winner. Another successful backlist bump. Let this be a lesson to us all, don't neglect your backlist!!!

Profile Image for Dianne.
6,773 reviews573 followers
January 27, 2019
Four gifted teens will learn the meaning of teamwork in order to prevent a war that could end the world and one of them may be the prophesied to make the ultimate sacrifice…

Caitlin Lochner’s A SOLDIER AND A LIAR is an action-packed tale where coming of age can be deadly for those who are “gifted” with special abilities, expected to save their world, yet are shunned by the normal around them.

Brilliantly colored characters, a plot that shines with imagination and an author who has brought it all together never wasting a single word!

Lai is a master of deceit, an accomplished escape artist and yet, she is the most untrained of her group when it comes to warfare, offense and defense. She jumped off the pages for me as a fresh character with so many facets to who she is.
I am very impressed with the potential for an incredible series that will have readers begging for more!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Swoon Reads!

Publisher: Swoon Reads (February 19, 2019)
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Genre: YA Scifi
Print Length: 350 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Samantha Hastings.
Author 31 books209 followers
July 27, 2018
Hunger Games meets X-Men in this unique and highly addictive read.

In a post apocalyptic world, there are two kinds of people Etiole and Nyte. Etioles are more numerous and run the Council and army. Nytes are gifted. They heal faster and have unique abilities, because of this, they’re forced to join the military at a young age.

Lai is a former soldier who has spent the last 2 years in prison. At least that’s what the Council thinks. In reality, she’s used her telepathic powers to work for and recruit for the Order (a peace organization) while slipping in and out of her cell. General Austin visits her in prison and asks her to join a special military team of Nytes. She says no at first, but decides she might be able to do more good out of prison. But the new team has problems and her past is going to catch up with her.

Jay is a model soldier and Nyte. He’s been tasked to lead a team of 3 Nytes. Lai Cathwell, recently out of prison. Mendel who can’t remember his life before 3 months ago. Johann who is a transfer from another sector. He’s sympathetic and smart, but it’s difficult trying to make a team out of them. Especially a team able to fight the growing rebel Nytes.

Told from Lai and Jay’s perspectives, they are both complex characters with difficult pasts and uncertain futures. Can they trust each other?

Amazing world-building and a fast-paced plot make this book an adventure you won’t want to miss.
Profile Image for B.R. Myers.
Author 12 books284 followers
December 23, 2018
In a society ruled by the Council, a special force of gifted teens are assembled to fight an emerging underground cell of rebels.

Lai is a former soldier who hides her telepathic ability, using it to her advantage against those she doesn’t trust—practically everyone. When she meets Jay, her new commander, a brilliant yet humble military figure, Lai begins to realize trusting a stranger might be the hardest part of the mission.

Jay exists to bear the weight of his father’s expectations and has never questioned the military, but after Lai joins his team, he wonders if he’s been following the wrong orders.

With an apocalyptic backdrop and a cast of well developed characters, Caitlin Lockner’s A SOLDIER AND A LIAR examines the nature of society while weaving a complex, action packed story.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,215 reviews3,073 followers
March 5, 2019
This book had great characters, but horrifically bad worldbuilding.

It's told in dual first-person perspective by Lorelei 'Lai' Cathwell and Jay Kitahara, a pair of Nytes - meaning people born with special powers. She's a telepath, and he's an empath who can also tell if someone's lying. They're in the army in the service of Etioles, non-gifted people, who vastly outnumber Nytes; the current threat at the moment is rebel Nytes, who want to overthrow the Etioles and end the discrimination faced by the gifted.

The other two members of Jay's team are Al Johann, a girl pretending to be a boy, and Erik Mendel, a frequent liar. They have to work together to end the rebel threat. Lai is also a member of the Amaranthine Order, a group of Nytes dedicated to instilling cooperation between Nytes and Etioles.

Okay, so: there was frankly zero explanation behind the concept of Nytes.

They're humans born with gifts. How? Where did the gifts come from? At least in Marie Lu's The Young Elites, the gifts come from a specific illness. Here, vague mention is made of radiation before being dismissed. There are also frequent references to how Nytes rarely live beyond their teenage years. Why???? Do their gifts kill them? Do Etioles kill them? Does service in the army kill them? For that matter, are there any civilian Nytes or are they automatically drafted into the army? How can the army tell who's a Nyte and who isn't? When do these gifts manifest themselves?

The layout of the surroundings was also poorly explained. I found it incredibly hard to visualise the setting whenever they left their army barracks to carry out missions - it just wasn't described well enough. Also, there are sectors like the in The Hunger Games, and different sectors are supposed to have different rules etc, but there was no further information given to actually help us differentiate between these sectors. In fact, I can't even remember which sector all the action is happening in. There was also no reference to what kind of technology exists in this world, or anything - it was intensely generic.

On the bright side, I really liked Jay and Lai's characters. They're smart and talented without being Mary Sues. The secondary characters (apart from Al and Mendel) weren't very well fleshed out, but they weren't intolerably bad either.


Bad world with no explanation or depth behind it, but likeable protagonists.
Profile Image for Kayla TM.
260 reviews126 followers
June 4, 2020
This book has potential: a crossover type of world like in The Hunger Games but with people born with abilities that are looked down upon and feared like in the X-Men. I wish the world had been better developed. There are glaring holes of information that could be included to make the world feel more realistic. That said, the thing that bothers me the most is how the military rank system seems to be really relaxed. A corporal can talk back to a major without any repercussions and a sergeant major can question a generals decision in front of other, higher ranking military officers: no, absolutely not. I did like the characters. They are strong with interesting backstories. And I enjoyed the premise of the book, though it is a bit boring in areas, and very redundant sometimes. It’s an interesting story, and I am interested to see how the author expanded on the world and characters in the next book. As it stands, though, 3 stars.
Profile Image for Laura.
442 reviews6 followers
February 20, 2019
3.5 stars.
It has the found family trope, and it's done pretty well. I loved the way this trope was written!

But overall, this was a slightly interesting story. The premise is great and I love the whole idea with superpowers. It's your typical dystopian with powers and having ungifted humans vs. gifted humans, but it does have its own twists on everything that makes the story worth the read.

It was quite slow for me in the beginning, but I really did enjoy the characters. They get much better throughout the entire story and I'm actually very curious to see where Lochner takes the story.

I also sometimes got bored with Jay's POV, yet his character is also very interesting. All the characters that we see are very complex and have their own secrets and lies that continue to add to the entire plot, and its done very well. Their little sideline plots don't take away from the entire premise; it just adds a little more to the story to make it more interesting.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,213 reviews461 followers
April 14, 2020
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult / Dystopian
*Rating* 3.5


A Soldier and a Liar is the first installment in author Caitlin Lochner's duology. In this world, Nytes have special abilities and can function outside the domed sectors of this dystopian world. The Etoiles are what's left of humankind. They make up the majority of the population, but fear the Nytes due to their abilities. One of the key players of this story is First Lieutenant Lorelai (Lai) Cathwell. Lai is a former soldier who has spent 2 1/2 years in prison for reasons that won't be come clear for some time. Her gift allows her to hear people's thoughts (Telepath).

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

Profile Image for Megan.
1,698 reviews63 followers
July 12, 2020
Solid YA sci fi! I wish the author had handled a gender queer issue better. But I enjoyed the overall premise. I received this book as a free giveaway in exchange for my honest review. Worth reading! 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Jamie (Books and Ladders).
1,382 reviews189 followers
March 23, 2020
See this review and more on Books and Ladders!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

Actual Rating: 3.5*

There was a lot I really liked about this - it felt like a better version of THE DARKEST MINDS. And I liked the characters and their secrets and how it all played out. I am super intrigued in the next book and how this series continues.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books191 followers
February 22, 2019
After reading the blurb, I knew I had to get my hands on this book, and I was not disappointed.

Lai's world is broken into two sorts of humans, those with powers and those without. Those with powers, the Nytes, are shunned, mistreated and mistrusted. Although Lai, a Nyte who is a telepath, was a top solider in the military of the normal humans, she was thrown into prison thanks to a small crime. She sneaks out and secretly works for the Order, a growing underground society which strives for a peaceful life for both types of humans. When the military comes and asks her to return in exchange for her release, she's not sure she wants to, but realizing it's a chance to gather more valuable information for the Order, agrees. But after begin back in uniform, she soon discloses secrets more dangerous than she suspected.

In some ways, this book reminded me of the X-Men but placed in a futuristic world with a heavily split society. And it worked. Lai is an easy character to root for. She's tough, she carries loads of secrets, she's clever, she carries doubt of her own skills at times, and she has a good compass for knowing right from wrong. Her dedication to her friends is inspiring, and her ability to win people over...although not always through the best means...makes her hard not to like even with a few sharp personality corners. It's easy to root for her and those around her, especially with the situation of the Nytes pulls at the sense of needed justice.

The pacing in these pages is pretty fast, guaranteeing a grabbing read with lots of surprises. There are levels of intrigue, some just dabbed upon and leaving the promise of excitement to come in the rest of the series, and secrets around every corner. Everyone has a history, and everyone has an agenda. It makes for interesting characters and a plot which is hard to decipher at times.

While there is a little romance, it by no means carries the plot but rather lays in very slight dabs with the rest of the story. In these pages, friendship is golden and team work is not simple, but inspiring all on its own. Fans of super humans, fast paced action, intrigue and fighting for justice in an imbalanced society...and girl power...are going to enjoy this tale.

I received a complimentary copy and was so engaged in this story that I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Tien.
1,865 reviews73 followers
April 12, 2020
A YA dystopian that is somewhat like a cross between Divergent and X-Men (hm, not sure if I've seen that said somewhere or if I recently said that about another novel...). A likeable, light & easy to read but not particularly engaging.

A Soldier and a Liar is set sometime in the future where a virus struck and the vulnerable young, if they survived, developed a superpower of some kind. It is a world full of prejudice, between the Nytes (with superpower) and the Etioles (without superpower). It is also a world that is on the verge of war as this conflict is reaching its peak... Which side do you choose?

Told from 2 perspectives, Lai & Jay, though most chapters were Lai's, who are Nytes and ranking officers in the military. Jay, however, is the leader of the new team, Team One, made up of only Nytes. They face many challenges but above all, can they trust their Etioles superiors?

I can't say that I was fully engaged by the novel. In fact, I was easily distracted by the tv throughout this reading. I do, however, like that ending twist and will definitely give the sequel (coming soon!) a go.
Profile Image for Heather Wood.
Author 18 books1,260 followers
February 25, 2022
I liked a Soldier and a Liar a lot more than I anticipated. I've been reading YA dystopian for years, so I wasn't sure what else could be done at this point. Luckily, the book incorporated some originality while also reminding me of Divergent and the Hunger Games. World building was good without making the reader bored. Character relationships are at the heart of the book and it helped me better understand their actions. The action is more intense in the beginning and end, but I appreciated the slower moments too. My favorite part was definitely Lai, I love strong female heroines with heart. There is another book out in the series, so I'd be interested in checking it out.
Profile Image for Kelli.
121 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2019
Actual Rating: 3.75 Stars

I may revisit this rating - I listened to the audiobook version and it was difficult for me to focus. But honestly it wasn't anything new - this felt like any x-men comic but set in...space? The future? You know I genuinely do not know what the setting was, past the fact that there were sectors. Lai was not super likable, but Jay was a poor broken cinnamon roll and he really sort of saved the book for me.

Like I said, I may just need to reread the physical book and see if that changes my opinion.
Profile Image for Addison Grote.
105 reviews
July 10, 2023
I got this for free after getting first place in a scavenger hunt at the library.

First of all, I still don't know who's the soldier and who's the liar. Is that bad?

Second of all, this series would probably make a good prequel. The main character's past is so mysterious and a prequel would be fun. Either that or the book just needs better world development. Probably both.

Third of all, I don't want to include any spoilers but the book would've been better if the MC just did that thing at the end and saved that person.
Profile Image for Cassie.
330 reviews62 followers
February 22, 2019
It has been so long since I have read a dystopian novel and A Soldier and a Liar was the perfect book to fall back into the genre. Providing a futuristic setting where the world is in disarray and people are fighting to survive, this book provides an outlet for multiple characters to shine brightly in two main perspectives of gifted soldiers: Lai and Jay.

One of my favorite aspects of A Soldier and a Liar is that the world development is articulated and molded so well, which allows the pacing of the story to be steady and straightforward. Not only is the story filled with groups of gifted and powerful people known as Nytes, but I loved how uniquely their supernatural powers are explained and used throughout the plotting of some strategically planned and action-packed scenes.

Overall, I really enjoyed that along with the fight for good and survival, the book also adds in small dashes of mystery, humor, and wit. Add in some unraveled secrets, messy twists, and unexpected turns and you won’t want to put this book down. In the end, what kept me ingrained in A Soldier and a Liar was the (un)reliable narratives and newly developed friendships, which formed the strongest bonds to keep this apocalyptic and military-driven story together.
Profile Image for Nathaniel.
Author 23 books131 followers
February 26, 2022
The dates below will tell you that it took me ten days to read this, but really I read the first fifty pages and then didn't pick it up to finish it until today. This was a fun, exciting dystopian story and I really liked the characters...but the plot just didn't live up to my expectations. It felt a little underdeveloped. But I would like to read more from Lochner. Not the sequel to this, as I don't see myself enjoying it, but something.
Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews39 followers
March 8, 2019
Caitlin Lochner’s debut novel, A SOLDIER AND A LIAR, spins a thrilling story shrouded in suspenseful mystery. Humanity lives in domed cities, sheltered from the toxic, post-apocalyptic world outside. The cities, called Sectors, are governed by High Councils and protected by the military. Strangely and without warning, two decades ago, children with superpowers, or Nytes, began arising in the Sectors. Fearing the capabilities of Nytes the non-superpowered majority, or Etioles, began to establish harsh regimens against Nytes in order to keep them in check. In Sector Eight, part of this regimen requires Nytes to join the military. But the harsh treatment of Nytes isn’t settling well with everyone. There is a dangerous rebellion brewing --- for over two years, Nytes have been gathering in the condemned zones outside the Sectors, threatening to wipe out all Etiole life for society’s wrongs against Nytes.

After two and a half years in prison, Lai Cathwell is hesitant to rejoin the military. As a Nyte, she is discriminated against and universally hated; she has more freedom behind bars, from where she can easily sneak out at night, than under the watchful eyes of Sector Eight’s High Council. When an old military friend comes asking for her help, however, in assembling an all Nyte team to fight against the rebels, Lai finds herself allied with three other Nytes: Jay, Al and Erik. At first, things are pretty rocky --- none of her teammates seem able to get along...or want to. Jay, shouldered with the role of leader, just wants the team to work. Al is riddled with temperamental issues and disrespect for other team members. Erik simply outright refuses to comply with the team. But despite their differences and their issues, their team slowly comes together as they are thrown out into the battlefield. They’ll have to be united if they’re to face what’s coming.

A SOLDIER AND A LIAR is set up like a chess match, every character acting as a piece of the larger puzzle. I could not help but continue reading, curiosity pulling me through the story’s carefully constructed tale as each character’s secrets slowly became unraveled. Every seemingly small detail is important to the story, brought together in the final moments in a well-written crescendo.

I greatly enjoyed the characters; they are what I believe brought Lochner’s story to life. Lai is secretive, deceptive and cunning. Her past is what shapes the story, and her actions ripple into tidal waves, affecting the entire team. Jay is the team’s socially-anxious, perfectionist leader. Ironically, his need to be accepted alienates him from the people he wants to connect to. Al is a revenge-driven, hot-head who doesn’t get along well with other people. It doesn’t matter who is burned if Al can obtain revenge. Erik is an amnesiac and compulsive liar who doesn’t trust anyone. To him, the team isn’t even a concern. Each character is extremely different, their different personalities are iconic and unique.

What I particularly liked, however, was not how Lochner described the individual characters, but rather how she depicted their relationships. In the beginning, none of them are able to understand or work with one another; there is too much tension, too much distrust. But that makes sense; in a world where everyone hates you, it’s hard to find people willing to work beside you. As the story develops, though, so do the characters. Gradually, the four of them click together. Bit by bit, Lai, Jay, Al and Erik become what the common narrative expects of heroes not because of their individual qualities, but because of their cohesiveness.

I found the story slow in the beginning. The first chapter starts in the middle of something exciting, but afterward, it takes a while for the ball to get rolling. The story focuses on introducing and developing several characters at once, then building relationships between them. While I loved what came out of this development stage, it was slightly boring to read through at first. It does eventually pick up, and when it does the book becomes hard to put down.

I recommend A SOLDIER AND A LIAR to you if you like action, drama and conflict. An insane telling, the book is a phenomenal read filled with electrifying plot twists and suspenseful moments. Be prepared to get hooked --- you’re in for a thrilling read.
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,183 reviews57 followers
April 11, 2020
Come join me at https://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/

Lia has spent the last two years locked away in prison, but what nobody knows is that she sneaks out at night to help the underground group of Nyte's who long for peace and acceptance in a world that calls them "demons". When the General she use to fight for asks her to come back to the war effort and stop the rebel Nytes, she agrees, mainly as a way to gather more information for her group. Jay just wants to make himself useful and follow orders, to maybe one day be looked on as a fellow soldier instead of a monster, but what he never expected was to be caught in the middle of a real war he never even knew was coming.

Let's start out with mentioning that I have a total case of cover love going on with this book. It is so pretty and basically perfect for the story- and I can easily picture Lai here. This is a Swoon Reads publishing book which means that readers get a say in what is published and they get to vote on the cover and they did a great job with their selection. High five guys! If you want to learn more about the Swoon Reads website and process go here . I found A Soldier and A Liar to be an interesting mix of supernatural and dystopian, with lots of action and secrets to keep the reader turning the pages for more.

I found it interesting that one of the main characters, Lai, was seen as "crazy". This is the first time that I have been inside the head of a character that everyone sees as mentally unstable and it was such an interesting ride! I love how her attention flickered randomly, with so many triggers to cause her to lose focus, yet she was crazy smart like a fox. She could see and pick up things that nobody else noticed (like that one person was really a girl and nobody else caught on). At times I doubted what she was doing but then she surprised me as well as her team. I liked that she could keep me guessing.

The other main character was Jay, aka Kitahara was the complete opposite of Lai. He was the definition of focus and drive, never letting his goals strays from the purpose that he was assigned. He was such a kind character, which feels odd to say when he is a battle trained soldier in the middle of a gory war, but it was the truth.

The one aspect of the book that made me struggle a little was that the reader is just blindly thrown into the middle of the book, with Lai locked up in prison for an unknown action, in a unknown world that has people (kids only it seems) with powers potentially due to an illness (a la The Darkest Minds series), and no real idea of how anything came to be. And I feel like the world started to come together as I read the book, but honestly it still felt like I was missing some pieces to make the world and the book complete. I was still able to enjoy the story but I would have liked a little bit more of the filler.

This is Caitlin's first book (and very much a series with an ending that hints ar more to come!) and I am really impressed with her storytelling abilities and creativity. I can't wait to see what else she wants to create next.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,587 reviews59 followers
April 16, 2021
2.5 stars, rounded down. The two main characters were interesting (though I liked Lia more than Jay), but the world building was almost nonexistent which made me confused in spots. The secondary characters weren’t terribly well developed, which didn’t endear them to me. Also, I found it confusing when characters were sometimes called by their first name and sometimes called by their last name only.
Profile Image for Cori McCarthy.
135 reviews8 followers
December 29, 2020
This book has been on my tbr for soooooo long, and I finally was able to read it, and ended up loving it! It was so hard to put down, and I cannot wait to pick up the last book in the duology! Let’s get into the review!

When I say this book has been on my tbr for a long time, I mean a long time. Probably at least a year, and I regret not reading it sooner! It was a very entertaining read, and it truly does hook you from the very beginning. This book was told from two point of views, and I really liked getting to read from the perspective from both of our main protagonists. I really enjoyed the characters in this book, and how even though four completely different people were chosen to be on a team together, not by choice, but by the end of the book, they had a great friendship foundation. Every character had their own internal struggles, and weren’t the most trusting, but they were all able to trust and confide in each other by the end. Some characters took some more time then others, but I loved seeing that growth. The friendship between Lai and A1 had to be my favorite thing ever, and I am hoping to see more of that friendship in the next one!

I loved the plot, and I loved the concept of this book! I highly recommend giving this book a shot! It’s fast-paced, an intriguing read, and will leave you wanting more of the bickering and loyal characters we have come to know and love!

“Somehow, sneaking back into prison is always harder than sneaking out of it.”
Caitlin Lochner, “A Soldier and A Liar”

Final Rating: 4/5 Stars⭐️
Profile Image for T.H. Hernandez.
Author 9 books204 followers
March 11, 2019
I wasn’t sure what to make of A SOLDIER AND A LIAR at first. It starts off slow and the characters are difficult to relate to, but I’m glad I stuck it out. The story and character development really picks up at about the 50% mark and takes off after that. Lai Cathwell is 17-year-old superpowered soldier. She and fellow young adults, Al (Johann), Erik (Mendel), and Jay (Kitahara) form an unlikely team of enhanced humans known as Nytes, on a mission to take out an elite squad of rebel Nytes determined to overthrow the Etiole government. While Nytes have powers, they are shunned for them, treated as second-class citizens at best. Lai wants acceptances and equality for Nytes, while the other three each have their own reasons for accepting the mission. With four different motivators, to say they’re a team would be a massive overstatement. Trust is hard to come by and suspicions run high. As their leader, Jay wants cohesion and solicits Lai’s help to make that happen. The more Lai learns about her teammates, the more she both likes them and distrusts them. But they’ll be forced to work together, whether they like it or not, to prevent all out war.

I think the primary plot is about the mission and stopping the war, but it feels more like it’s abut the relationships between the four Nytes as they get to know each other and grudgingly begin to trust one another. The action scenes are really well done, but they don’t drive the plot as much as the interpersonal scenes do. And it’s those scenes that made me care about the outcome of the action scenes. There’s also a budding romance between Jay and Lai always simmering just below the surface. This relationship came across as forced initially, but as with the rest of the book, it hit its stride about halfway through.

The Characters
The characters are my favorite part. Watching shy, socially awkward Jay try to navigate his attraction to Lai, Lai’s heavily armored exterior giving way to friendships, Erik’s selfishness giving way to something more, and Al’s standoffishness meld into someone I could identify with was what made this story really work for me. The author has created deeply authentic characters that are initially tough to get to know, but evolve with time at the same pace for us as they do for Lai. By not trying to force us to care early on, the author does us a favor and allows the reader’s feelings to grow organically as the story progresses. There are a lot of secondary and tertiary characters, who only make sporadic appearances, so I found myself flipping back to reread the scenes where they were first introduced.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About A SOLDIER AND A LIAR
1. Scene setting. The author has a way of bringing her settings to life in this world where people live in underground sectors to protect them for dangers above ground that only Nytes can survive. The descriptions are so vivid, I had no difficulty immersing myself in this world.

2. Friendships. The relationships between the characters develop over the story, so that the reader builds the same relationship at the same time as the narrator.

3. Super powers. This isn’t your typical superhero story, but the powers the Nytes possess are no less fun and shape the story as much as anything else.

4. Equality. Whether it’s Sneetches with stars upon thars, the color of one’s skin, or being a Nyte or Etiole, everyone wants to be seen as equal, and this classic theme is well done.

5. Lai. She’s fierce, independent, and just vulnerable enough to make her a heroine worth rooting for.

Bottom Line
A different take on superheroes and dystopian adventures with strong characters.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
600 reviews
November 18, 2018
When Lai decides to leave prison and rejoin the military, she doesn't know she's going to be part of a small task force consisting of Nytes. Nytes have a special ability and can function outside the domed sectors of this dystopian world. The Etoiles (French for "stars") are what's left of humankind, make up the majority of the population, and fear the Nytes due to their abilities. Lai is paired up with Jay, Al, and Erick to assist the military in secret missions against the Rebels--the Nytes who live outside the domes with a burning hatred for Etoiles due to the harsh treatment they've received from them. But this team has friction, differences, and secrets that tear them apart instead of bringing them together amidst the threats of war on the horizon.

This was a rare read that I didn't want to finish because of the action and mystery. You don't know everything up front, and not everything is revealed once you get to the end. There wasn't much suspense since you know the reveals from the moment they are introduced. I haven't found any information stating whether this is a standalone or series, but I'm hoping for the latter due to many questions left by the last pages. On the other hand, this doesn't end with a mind blowing cliffhanger and instead a sufficient one is used that either stands as the ending or a bridge to the next installment.

A dislike includes the alternating chapters between Lai and Jay's point of views. The majority of chapters were from Lai's point of view so it would have been easier to keep this story in first person from Lai's perspective. The two points of views weren't written strongly so a lack of connection to Lai and Jay resulted. We learn glimpses of their past, more so for Jay, and chunks of time are left off with the switching viewpoints. So once finishing the story, the reader only knows these characters from the moment they were introduced without any history or depth. If there is a sequel, I'm hoping the author decides to write it from Lai's point of view to make the story stronger.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
Profile Image for Jackie.
630 reviews42 followers
March 13, 2019
A book that has all the elements for a fast paced, sci fi adventure but ended up falling flat.

“A Solider and a Liar” follows Lai, a gifted telepath who went to prison to escape the military and Jay an officer looking to bring her back for a mission to eliminate rebel threats with a team of other gifted soldiers, but as secrets are revealed and old friends come back with a hunger for violence Lai must decide which team she wants to fight for.

There were so many moments in this book where I thought I was reading divergent and not in a good way. The plot managed to stay one note through the entirety of the novel despite the action sequences and training sessions which was a huge disappointment. It didn’t help that it was a story we’ve seen a hundred times offering little excitement when it came to twists and the climax.

The characters themselves fit into this generic world perfectly as they each stick to their role and don’t display any qualities to make them fully formed characters worth caring about. We had the unwilling soldier who is so brilliant at everything she hardly tries, the good old boy leader who is doing his best with an unwilling team, and two side members with questionable pasts that cause conflict for the pivotal confrontation but don’t worry they breakfast club it out of there with a few seconds of arguing before agreeing they’re better off as a team.

This is such a sad review because I looked forward to this book for months only to have it be worthy of a giant sigh but oh well.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
March 13, 2019
Lai Cathwell has the ability to read the thoughts of others, a gift that comes in handy in everyday life but also in the many conflicts that face her. After she is recruited for a special mission by an old acquaintance, she must use her abilities to pull this most unlikely team together. As they train together, the four members of the team grow closer in some ways while also continuing to hold tightly to some of their secrets. In many ways, the book brought to mind Kristin Cashore's Graceling series, but it's nowhere near as developed. Perhaps if there's a follow-up, many of the questions I had and the dangling loose ends will be answered and tied up, but I had to force myself to finish it. I liked the title of the book and the way it starts out, but I kept asking myself why anyone would agree to go on what was sure to be a suicide mission or why it took so long for anyone to realize the importance of being able to feed this new order. The reasons for this particular world and its citizens being at war with one another needed to be fleshed out more, and then, the book would be stronger. Still, fans of this sort of thing will likely enjoy it and be relieved that Lai has finally met someone she can trust. All the characters seem so young to be thrust into these situations, and so talented and world weary at a tender age.
107 reviews
May 9, 2019
A Soldier and a Liar takes place in a war-torn world that is ruled by the etioles, those without powers. They view the nytes , those with powers, with suspicion and hostility and force them to work as soldiers when found. The nytes are fewer in numbers and only started to appear a couple of decades ago, therefore the oldest of them are only around twenty years old.

The book follows two perspectives, Lai and Jay. Lai is a nyte and former soldiers who is currently locked up in prison. But her former commander drags her back to the military to join a new unit that consists of only nytes. The unit is led by Jay who joined the military to get away from his cold father. The last two members is Al who is short-tempered and seeking revenge, and Erik who has lost all his memories.

I liked Lai and the focus on the relationships between the four team-members but wasn’t overwhelmed by the story. The romance in it wasn’t a big part but I would have preferred if it had been left out completely. YA books that has a military setting tend to come off as naïve to me, and this book was no exception. A lot of the conflict in the book is centred around the mistreatment of nytes and yet we barley get to see it. I felt it had the potential to be so much darker, more compelling and intriguing than it was.
968 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2019
Title: A Soldier and a Liar
Author: Caitlin Lochner
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Lai is a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager with abilities that frighten the Etioles without abilities—but with numbers and power on their side. Lai is in prison: by her own choice and for her own reasons. Going back to the military is not what she had in mind, but when a chance to join a special team of Nytes comes her way, she decides that it might suit her own agenda perfectly, if she keeps the truth of her power to herself.

She joins Jay, an uptight perfectionist haunted by his father’s expectations, Al, whose short temper keeps her own secret hidden, and Erik, a surly amnesiac desperate to find out who he really is. Their team has a chance to stop the rising rebellion between Nytes and Etioles, but will the secrets they’re hiding destroy their team before they can?

This is a dystopian story, but without the dystopian feel. The focus is on the two groups, Nytes and Etioles, and the conflict and rebellion between them. Each of these characters has secrets, big ones, and keeps everyone at a distance to keep their secret safe. This novel is about finding trust—for yourself and those closest to you—even in the face of danger. An enjoyable read not bogged down with romance and flirting (although there is a teensy bit).

(Galley courtesy of Swoon Reads via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Shelee at Book Reader Chronicles.
866 reviews24 followers
February 20, 2019
**3.5/4 Stars**

A Soldier and a Liar was a unique and action-packed story with a mixture of sci-fi and dystopia. Each character held depth and felt fully realized, standing within this world on their own two feet with a purpose. There was such an instinctual relatability with Lai’s character—even with her gifts—with how any reader could understand her wants and struggles in her divided nation. And seeing the dynamic of her and her unlikely crew being forced to work together became the best part of the book.

Though I would’ve liked more world-building and background for this world and our two main characters, I was still able to enjoy the story that was being told. I loved the conflict of interpersonal struggles clashing with personal objectives and how it worked against the backdrop of this tension-filled world. I am excited for the possibilities that could come next and look forward to exploring them as A Soldier and a Liar was a fun, fast-paced read.

**Received an early copy; this had no bearing on my opinions**
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