Sunday, January 4, 2015

I Ain't Calling You a Truther

Liar by Justine Larbalestier is complicated and wonderful. I saw it about a year ago when I was working for a bookstore. We were having a hard time selling our copies, and I didn't think it sounded that great. Then I saw it on a post for diversity in fantasy, and I was like, whaaaat??

So, for those who are extremely anti-spoilers, maybe stop reading. This is definitely a book where the less you know going in, the more twisty-turny the plot seems. 

Micah's friend, Zach, has been murdered. Micah is a compulsive liar. She'll lie about anything and everything. Micah and Zach were a little more than friends. Now, Micah promises to tell the reader the truth. And as she unravels the lies, her story becomes more and more unbelievable. Until finally, you find yourself walking a thin lie between believing her and believing she's nothing but a liar.

This is the first single novel I've read of Larbalestier's. I read the entirety of Zombies vs Unicorns which she co-edited and contributed a short story to, but I've never read one of her novels. It was fantastic. It took me a little while to get into it. Because I knew one of the "reveals" before hand, I was waiting impatiently for it to happen in the book itself. Finally about a third of the way through, I got my wish, and then things picked up for me. 

I love the format of this novel. It alternates between different subheadings, I guess for lack of a better term. There's Before Zach's death, and After. There's School History and the History of Me (Micah) and Family History. I loved it because I love non-linear plots. If authors can pull it off, it's one of my favorite devices to push a mystery, and Larbalestier pulls it off fantastically. Her writing is beautiful. She perfectly details the life of a liar or at least what I imagine from the few lies I've told. I'm a bit ashamed to admit, I rarely lie. I just don't see the point. However, Larbalestier create's Micah's lies so flawlessly that I understand why Micah lies. And even though Micah is, in many ways, a terrible person, I find myself rooting for her.

Also, I was ecstatic about the diversity in this novel. I mean, check out the cover. For once, an almost 100% accurate model of the main character: Micah is at least 25% African-American. She's described as more androgynous (she passes as a boy for a solid two weeks). Her hair is curly and cut short. She's also bisexual (or pansexual, depending on your terminology). Most of the other main characters are people of color, and there's several mixed race relationships. Zach is hispanic. Micah's mom is predominantly white, while her father is black. Micah's grandmother is white, her grandfather (who admittedly doesn't feature in the novel itself) was black. It's delightfully and accurately diverse. They live in New York City, and unlike many films set there, it seems to be close to how varied the people living there actually are. 

I've been thinking about Liar since I finished it. I can't get it out of my head. And that's what I love the most. Books that stick in your mind even as you fill yourself with other stories. It's not quite a new favorite for me, but I am so glad I read it.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy books with unreliable narrators. 

Favorite Quotes: I'm undecided, stuck somewhere in between, same way I am with everything: half black, half white; half girl, half boy; coasting on half a scholarship. I'm half of everything.

I don't read, but I do like libraries. I like order, and libraries are all about order. Every book has a place.

It's because grown-ups don't remember what it was like when they were teenagers. Not really. They remember something out of a Disney movie and that's where they want to keep us. They don't like the idea of our hormones, or that we can smell sex on one another. That we walk down the halls thick with a million different pheromones. We see each other, catch a glance, the faintest edge of one, that sends a shiver through our bodies all the way to the parts of us our parents wish didn't exist.

I wonder if I would have loved his lungs, his voice box, his pancreas if I'd seen them nestled safe within him. If you love someone, do you love all of them?

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