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The cover of Liar by Justine Larbalestier. A mixed-race girl stares at the viewer, pulling the collar of her jacket around her face.Liar by Justine Larbalestier // Bloomsbury, 2010 // Borrowed from the library // Read January 2013, reviewed January 2013

Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.


After years of avoiding posts marked "IF YOU HAVE NOT READ LIAR THEN PLEASE MOVE ALONG OR THIS BOOK WILL BE FOREVER RUINED FOR YOU", I have finally read it! I am allowed to read posts and listen to podcasts and it won't ruin my reading experience!

... Guys, seriously, when people put that warning on a post, they're not joking! I am trying to recommend this book to everyone I know in person (everyone I know online having already read it), and all I am comfortable telling people is "It's about a death narrated by a compulsive liar and anything else I say is spoilers." It is best to go into it knowing AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE.

I am not going to discuss this book too deeply, because a) I feel like this is a book I need to discuss with people before I try to do an in-depth review, and b) a lot of the reviews I've read have lingered on how much of Micah's story the reviewer believes, and which parts. Honestly, I kinda feel like that doesn't matter? There are so many different versions of the story she tells that could be true, and so many things she isn't telling that probably are true - I've kinda hit the state of zen where I believe all versions simultaneously, regardless of how ridiculous or horrifying they are.

This book is probably the cleverest thing I have read in a long time. It juggles concurrent timelines (it tells the story in four rough timelines - before the death, after it, Micah's family's history, and her school history.) and Micah's truths and lies with ease, and I rarely felt lost or confused. I had occasional moments of "Oh, you got me," when Micah revealed that something she said was a lie - again, this was a clever thing, because I believed everything she said.

Okay, the second part of the story I did have the reaction of "Oh now you are lying to me, I am calling you on this -" but the explanation won me over, with its details and how fascinating and well-thought out it was. I'm still not sure whether I believe it completely, but I think that the explanation made me willing to consider it as a possibility!

I am going to be honest with you: I wasn't actually expecting to like this book. I hate unreliable narrators, because I am used to trusting what a narrator tells me, and when I can't rely on that to know what's happening then what can I rely on?! (I didn't like A Sickness in the Family for pretty much this exact reason.) But this... I think that knowing up-front that Micah was going to lie to me (and the fact that she did occasionally point to specific things and say "That? That was me lying to you and you fell for it.") made it okay. Apparently what I don't like is feeling betrayed by a story when I realise that the narrator is untrustworthy! When I expect it from the start, I am fine with it.

But yes, I really enjoyed this book, and Micah and the people she met. In some ways, I kinda wish that she was telling the truth about some aspects of her relationships, because (like she says) the way she tells it is so much better than reality. I'm not a hundred percent sure that I follow the ending, I have to admit. I have suspicions about what happens and where Micah ends up! Multiple suspicions, that often contradict each other! Which seems somewhat appropriate, I have to admit.

BASICALLY: I really love this book, I think it was clever and wonderful and exactly as good as the internet had been promising it would be. Definitely recommended, and everyone should read it! Especially before you read any posts about it!

Other people talking about this book (spoilers spoilers spoilers):
  • Galactic Suburbia

  • The Book Smugglers

  • Ana of Things Mean A Lot on the cover fiasco

  • Renay
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    Cirque des Geeks

    About Us

    Welcome to Cirque Des Geeks! We are a trio of geeks who review books, manga, comics, tv shows, and films as the mood takes us. Our trio comprises Sam (the fez-wearing philosopher), Susan (the book-addled librarian), and Tonks (the shape-changing scientist). Our interests are wide and varied, but generally come back to science fiction and fantasy in all their forms.

    Sam and Tonks can also be found working with Black Stump Films (On Vimeo and Youtube) making short films.

    We do not have a formal posting schedule, but the current goal is at least two posts per week. If you wish to be kept in the loop of what's happening, please follow us on twitter - [personal profile] cirquedesgeeks.

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