Sunday, March 18, 2012
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are a number of different ways to read this book, which makes rating and summarizing it difficult. Micah is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and every time I thought I had her lies figured out, there would be a new twist. One can read this book without believing a word of it, and still think you know what happened.
But then, what is fiction, but a series of believable lies?
The story is told through the first-person perspective of Micah Wilkins, a seventeen-year-old biracial girl who goes to a private school in NYC. A boy in her class dies, and when one of his friends points her out as his "out-of-school girlfriend," she's questioned by police about his murder.
That's all I feel confident in reporting as the truth in this narrative, though even pieces of that may be wrong. Micah plays fast and loose with the truth. She tells several lies, many of which she admits to, some of which she doesn't. One could read this book a dozen times, and come up with a different answer every time to what really happens in the book. I honestly can't say which is the correct one, and I'm not sure there's supposed to be one true interpretation.
Usually, open-ended narratives bother me. I like a neat ending, especially in my YA. But this book becomes something of a mirror for the reader in its unreliable narrator and story open to interpretation. How familiar are you with the tricks liars use? How well do you spot inconsistency? How well do you trust someone who's already lied to you?
There does have to be a point on which you trust Micah, or the whole story is pointless. There are several such points you could grab onto, though, hence my observation about multiple interpretations.
This book has a high potential for rereading in the near future. It's an enjoyable read, too; Micah is an engaging narrator, and the pacing is excellent.
The loss of a star is because of my personal preference for a neat ending, and my uncertainty that the author even knows which interpretation is correct.
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