We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE

 

we were liars

We Were Liars  has received so much hype, including the top May 2014 Library Reads choice.  This contemporary, suspense story was an extremely quick read.  The first few pages include a map of Beechwood Island, and The Sinclair Family Tree, which were much appreciated.  There are lots of privileged family members and houses to keep track of, so at the beginning I referred to those pages quite a bit. The story mostly surrounds ‘the liars’ consisting of Cadence (the narrator), her cousins Johnny, Mirren and love interest, Gat.   Cadence and the cousins are from the wealthy and ‘perfect’ Sinclair family, while Gat refers to himself as the Healthcliff of the family.

Summer fifteen is featured heavily because it is during that summer that Cadence has an accident, leaving her with memory loss and terrible migraines. Her migraines are often the subject of some very dramatic imagery “Migraines left my blood spreading across unfamiliar hotel sheets, dripping on the floors, oozing into carpets, soaking through leftover croissants and Italian lace cookies (p. 35)”.  Broken into five parts, the writing also includes Once Upon A Time fairy tale stories that emulate her family’s bickering over money, inheritance and possessions.  Choppy sentences are also used for dramatics:

There was nowhere

nowhere

nowhere

nowhere now to go

but down (p. 207).

Usually I catch on quickly to the surprise twist, but I was genuinely surprised by the ending. For that reason, I would recommend this quick (and fairly short) contemporary mystery to teens.

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The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

 

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

 

mad

Although I’ve never read H.G Wells’ The Island of Dr.Moreau, the book jacket synopsis of a Gothic thriller appealed to me. With elements of suspense, action, mystery and romance, I was immediately immersed in the story. The atmosphere and setting of a remote jungle island only added to the creep factor. Juliet’s father, the mad scientist, Dr.Moreau, makes for a perfect villain. I found it super easy to hate him (especially for his misogynistic views). His disturbing creature creations were so vividly described, that I fear I will come across them again in nightmares.

In terms of pacing, the plot does have some slower periods in the middle, which consists of walking/running through the forest, but for the most part, it held my attention. However, I could have done without Juliet’s love triangle, and her back and forth indecisive thoughts between Montgomery and Edward. Shepherd included a couple of predictable twists, but the last one caught me completely off guard. The action ramped up in the end…. eventually leading to the ultimate betrayal.  Personally, I don’t see the need for a sequel, but there is one in the works (expected publication January 2014). Recommended to those that like dark, twisted, Gothic reads.

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