Saturday, June 06, 2009

Liar (YA)

Larbalestier, Justine. 2009. (October Release). Liar. Bloomsbury. 388 pages.

I was born with a light covering of fur. After three days it had all fallen off, but the damage was done. My mother stopped trusting my father because it was a family condition he had not told her about. One of many omissions and lies. My father is a liar and so am I. But I'm going to stop. I have to stop. I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions. That's my promise. This time I truly mean it.

Is Micah Wilkins, our narrator, a compulsive liar? Is she trustworthy? Is she sane? Divided into three parts, (Telling the Truth, Telling the True Truth, and The Actual Real Truth) Justine Larbalestier offers readers an always compelling, somewhat-unbelievable, but oh-so-thrilling read. When we first meet Micah, she's just learned something horrible: her boyfriend, Zach, is dead. Murdered. Everyone is stunned including Sarah, Zach's actual girlfriend, and Tayshawn, Zach's best friend. Who is Micah? Where does she fit in? Everywhere and Nowhere. As his after-hours girl--well, lover--she doesn't run in the same circles as Zach. She's little better than a freak at school. A girl with extremely short hair who doesn't wear makeup, who doesn't look or act like the other girls. A girl who once for a few days convinced everyone that she was a boy.

It's true that Micah feels out of sorts and all in-between. Not white enough to be white. Not black enough to be black. Not feminine enough to fit in with the popular girls, the gossipy girls. She doesn't feel pretty, that's for sure.

She is good at many things: lying, for one, biology, for another, and last but certainly not least, running. She is faster than fast. At least that is what she tells us. Why doesn't she have friends? Is it her appearance? The fact that she likes attention and tells outrageous lies?

What's her secret? Does that secret involve murder? What's the real story? Can we ever know the truth?

I liked this one mostly. It was definitely intense and suspenseful. It definitely made me think. It's a complex book, which is always nice to see. But I'm not sure I liked it, liked it. I'm not sure I want to hang out with Micah any time soon. I don't think we're meant to.

This is one of those books that could be easily spoiled for readers by too much description. So I'm purposefully keeping it short. The more I describe my thoughts (and reactions) about Micah, the more preconceived ideas and notions you might have to carry with you if you decide to pick it up on your own.

I am not quite sure I get the cover though. I'm not saying the US cover isn't attractive enough in its own little way. But it doesn't take the reader very long to discover that the main character, Micah, is black with very short, very cropped hair. True, the narrator is a compulsive liar, so maybe readers should doubt her when she says that she is black with short, cropped hair and can sometimes pass as a boy. But if this girl on the cover is meant to be Micah, well, there's nothing freaky or awkward about her. And even if you don't consider all that, I'm not sure that this cover matches the mood of the book. Do those eyes and that hair say it's a dark-mysterious-thriller?

The Australian cover.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


MotherReader 8:01 PM  

The Australian cover is SO much better. I've wondered about the U.S. cover too, because is the fact that she's not black on the cover supposed to give us the clue that the whole book is a lie? Or is it not significant? Liz and I were talking about this book, and we came away with very different thoughts about what happened. And that's one of the things that I did like about it, that it made you question everything in reading it.

Anonymous,  9:16 PM  

Authors have zero control over the cover. You really shouldn't read anything into it.

Ruth King 10:12 PM  

I actually really like the cover, but can see how it doesn't fit with the book. I wonder if that was intentional or just a mistake on the publisher's part. Sounds like an interesting read.

Becky 10:23 PM  

I think the cover is artistically beautiful. No question it is a compelling image. I'm not saying this cover is a "mistake" or "bad" in any way. It just leaves me with a question mark in a way.

Renay 10:51 PM  

I hope the cover has something to do with the theme of the book, because if not it just means it got white washed, and that sucks. :(

You kind of sold me on this one; I like books with narrators you probably don't want to be BFFs with. Will definitely check it out.

Charlotte 11:22 PM  

I've been up far to long, and I'm not sure my brain is working--am I missing something in the Australian cover? All I see is the Jello blobs (with some spelling liar), or are they supposed to be abstract body parts or something????

Liz B 7:41 AM  

The way I've reconciled myself to the US cover art is that it's a lie (via the cover, Micah's first lie to us is what she looks like.) Otherwise it's one of the worse "make the main character look white even when she isn't" cover cases out there (there have been others).
Australian cover: I see it as blood, slowly revealing the truth: Liar.

Paige Y. 8:29 AM  

I read Larbalestier's blog but can't remember if she's said anything about the U.S. cover. I haven't read the book yet -- don't have an ARC so I'll have to wait until September. It's an interesting premise for a book.

Paige Y. 9:07 AM  

Here is a link to her discussion of the cover. She doesn't really say what she thinks about the fact that the girl on the cover and her description in the book don't match:

Carol H Rasco 10:44 AM  

A discussion like this on the cover is one of the very reasons I am enjoying the is my first book challenge and there are so many interesting angles to participation. Thank you for generating this particular discussion. I have finished my 48 hour period and am enjoying "cruisin'" the sites for longer periods than I allowed myself during the 48 hours. Thank you!

Leigh 2:34 PM  

The Australian cover is kind of... meh... but I like the hair and eyes one. It may not betray the content of the book, so the cover is sort of true to the story. It's concealing a truth from the expectant reader =)

I love your blog by the way. I've never commented, but I just started my own book blog and I figured it was about the time.

Kailana 4:44 AM  

This book looks interesting. I will have to keep it in mind. :)

MotherReader 9:58 AM  

Becky, I think the cover is artistically lovely too. It's a great cover but I don't like what it supposed to reveal or not reveal about the character. Or if it's just the worse depiction of a character in the book, like, ever.

Zibilee 1:34 PM  

Sounds like a great read. I, too, think it's really odd that the cover doesn't match the book, I wonder what the designers and publisher were thinking?

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