Genres: Mystery, YA Contemporary
Since when do the dead send emails?
Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.
Subject: (no subject)
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.
Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...
Oh, book. I wanted to love you, but by the time you started calling Bethany Beefany because she’s built like a linebacker, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to.
I was right.
To give The Liar Society its due praise, the storyline of the warring secret societies within Kate’s school and the role they might have played in Grace’s death is vividly drawn and well-paced. My worries about Nice Guy Syndrome creeping into this book were deftly put to rest. Readers always know Seth has feelings for Kate, but she is never under any pressure to return his feelings because he’s a “nice guy” and he’s entitled to her returning them or any of that bull.
All the feminism points the book earned through the avoidance of Nice Guy Syndrome were taken away–and then some–but Kate’s inability not to be an asshat to other people.
P. 106: “A handful of girls trailed after [Porter] who either suffered from First Year-itis or were raging gold-diggers who loved the sound of their last names hyphenated with “Reynolds.””
Readers are supposed to root for Kate, but that becomes a challenge with quotes like the one above. She seems thoroughly dedicated to being a terrible person. We are also supposed to believe that she cares about Seth as a friend, but she only ever uses him like a tool and looks down on him/his interests. As previously mentioned, she makes fun of Bethany’s linebacker-esque body type by calling her Beefany. Her body type isn’t something she can control and it’s not funny. At all. Kate is just being awful.
And then she started throwing around “slut.”
P. 298 (while talking about a dress that barely covers her butt because she has outgrown it): “The slutty look worked well for Hollywood starlets and girls hanging out on street corners, but I decided it might be best to attempt a slightly more subtle fashion statement for my first Homecoming dance.”
P. 300: “When you mix a Mardi-Gras-themed dance with teenage hormones, the result is a combination of girls who look largely like underage prostitutes and oversexed boys who dangle copious amounts of beads in hopes of finding a girl drunk enough (or slutty enough) to flash them.”
I don’t stand for validated, unchallenged slut-shaming. I consider these instances validated because Kate is never, ever called out on any of her behavior. Is she supposed to be funny? She’s not.
In short, REVEALING CLOTHES DO NOT EQUAL SLUTTY, M’KAY?
The mystery that drives the novel is easy to solve if one is an attentive reader, but Kate is not so good at connecting the dots or making logical conclusions. (On the subject of logic, this book has little; one of the gems is that riding a bike makes you uncool or a geek. I don’t know either.) As the clues build up, the mystery is practically solved, but Kate is only halfway there.
Characterization is serviceable enough, but development and the strength of the relationships between characters is subpar. Trying to characterize Kate as unpopular fails when three popular boys, the bad boy, and the friend all flirt with or have feelings for her. I’m surprisingly untroubled by so many guys being into her, seeing as most of my manuscripts have two or three people who are anywhere from flirting with to obsessed with the main character. It’s how it contradicts her characterization that bothers me.
The ending of the novel is rather frustrating because we all want to see things put to rights, but considering the themes of justice and how the secret societies within Pemberly Brown are tied up in it, it is also appropriate. A more positive ending would have been unrealistic.
The sequel The Lies That Bind comes out November 1, 2012 and I do not think I will be reading it.