I read this book for calico_reaction's Monthly Dare Challenge over on her LJ. Like the book club pick, I was super excited to have an excuse to read this book. I've been wanting to read it since it's release almost two years ago because the premise sounded amazing. I've always liked the debate that an unreliable narrator can spark, and that's the whole point of this title. Well, when I actually got around to reading this, I was... perplexed. When I finished, I put the book down and was still sort of reeling from disbelief, and was initially disappointed. The book wasn't what I thought it was going to be AT ALL. It's been a couple of weeks since I've read it though, and since then I've had more time to let the whole experience sink in. That's actually a good way to describe Liar: an experience. Anyway, I think if someone asked me now, I would say that I liked the book. No, it wasn't what I was expecting, but the fact that it has me STILL thinking about it as a testament to how powerful it was. Now, I want to really dive into this and get into my interpretations of the book (and there're a lot of ways this book can be interpreted), so if you haven't read this, DON'T LOOK UNDER THE CUT. There WILL be major spoilers.
I guess I'll jump the gun and go right into why this book threw me through such a loop. Reading the back of the book, I thought that this title would be classified as 'contemporary'. By that I mean that I didn't think there would be any supernatural elements involved. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I got to the second half of the book and Micah drops the bomb that she's a werewolf of all things. The first part of the book gave little to no indication that there was going to be any supernatural elements either, so when I got to that part, it felt like a smack to the face. For the rest of the book I was just waiting for Micah to own up to the werewolf bit as a huge lie. I just couldn't for the life of me bring myself to believe her. It didn't help that throughout the rest of the book she mocks the reader for being so gullible when she does admit to lying about other things. She also mentions at one point in the book of her fear of becoming a pathological liar, where one starts to actually believe their own lies.
My interpretation for the whole werewolf thing, and I'm not saying this is word of God, is that it WAS all a lie. I interpreted it as a way for Micah to deal with several things about her life that she disliked: her disease which covered her body in hair (which is an actual condition), to cope with the favoritism she felt her parents gave her younger brother and to deal with the death of her kind-of-boyfriend Zack. I think it also enabled her to better cope with the estrangement she felt from her peers at school. I think she was starting to fall into the "pathological liar" category, because she never did say she was lying about being a werewolf. Doing so would've also diminished almost all debate one could have over the book too, so I think stylistically it was a good choice on Larbalestier's part. Of course, there is always the possibility that Micah WAS actually a werewolf. But like I said, I just couldn't bring myself to believe it.
Now, this is a book that really needs to be re-read. I think I picked up on one or two of Micah's smaller lies, because Larbalestier does use detail very well. I think reading it again now I would be able to pick up on a lot more things.
As far as writing goes, it's great. Micah has a very distinct and unique voice. This is a very in-depth character study, and it's really more that than anything else. I also liked how events weren't presented in chronological order. It just made sense to have them presented in the order they were, and it shed light on different things when it was necessary (even though you're never sure which of these things are true or not.) Larbalestier is clearly very talented at her craft and I really want to read her other works now.
Final Verdict: I'm not too sure what else to say. This book is DIFFERENT, and unlike anything I've ever read before. I was initially disappointed at first because this wasn't at all what I was expecting, but having let it simmer in my brain for a few days really made me realize how much I enjoyed the overall experience. Just the fact that it stayed simmering in my brain for a few days is testament to what this book does: it makes you think, it makes you question everything, and it's a great book for discussion and debate. Don't pick this up expecting clear answers to everything though. Much is left ambiguous and up to interpretation, and while that took me a little getting used to, in the end, it's what I love most about this book. I need to buy this book now, because this is a title that I think I could re-read over and over again and get something new out of it every time. Larbalestier is a new author for me to look out for, and I intend to check out her YA fantasy series in the near future, because this is a great bit of writing. It's so nice and refreshing to read something like, what with the YA market being flooded with so much supernatural and dystopian romance fluff (not that there's anything wrong with these when done right, but there's just SO MUCH of it right now.) This book actually transcends YA completely. It can be enjoyed by teenagers AND adults.