Sunday, 29 June 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication date: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon India
Stars: 4/5
Source: Bought
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.


I'm going to copy-paste what's in the blurb, in case you're not the kind of person who reads the blurb first. Because, of the plot, this is all you need to know: 

"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."

No, its not just the blurb that's deliberately elusive. We Are Liars is as fragmented, as vividly illusionary, suspenseful and pseudo poetic as what you just read. The characters pop out of the page, demanding every bit of your attention span. They say pretentious things, everything they want or need is just there- on a literal platter, share a superficial, seasonal friendship amidst raging hormones and the salt of the sea water. And you'll listen to them. 

Because in their perfection and pretention and destruction, they remain glamorous. It's the sheen this kind of inherited privilege has given them.

The Liars were perfect. Until something happened and now, Cady, "the beautiful and damaged girl" has constant and prolonged migraines. A huge chunk of her memory, of "the accident" and what happened before, is missing. Gat, the Indian American boy she loved, who made her "weak", becomes inconsistent. Her friends, the Liars, seem to be crumbling with her. Her parents and aunties are drinking and shopping more than usual and their fake smiles are waning. 

What happened to these beautiful, beautiful people?

We Were Liars recounts the scenic, the surreal and the lies the Liars and their parents lived through in startling purple prose. Eventually, and without warning, it plunges into the truth which NOTHING can prepare you for and can never quite set you free. I was crying into the early morning hours. I remain stunned. I would never read this book again, because of how it messed with my head; branded it with images that will never leave me. But you should read it that once. BECAUSE it will mess with your head and grip you until you get to the bottom of it. Because it made me mull over the nature of "ownership" and things that are fickle and pretentious.

It goes without saying that if you dislike fragmented, purple prose and tales about "them poor-little-rich-kids", you will probably not like this book.

Rating: ★★★★

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Review: One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

Publication date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 5/5
Source: Review copy (Thank you, William Morrow!)
Internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern delivers her biggest and most compelling book yet—a tale of secrets, second chances, and the hidden connections that unite our lives

Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan's career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor's bedside, Kitty asks her, "What is the one story you always wanted to write?"

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance's office—a list of one hundred names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance's life... and starts to understand her own.


I give this book five, very subjective stars. I'm not quite sure if I would've given it five stars if I'd read it way back in January, when I received it for review... or even a bit later, when in the midst of finals. But then again, is there any such thing as an objective rating? That being said, I read One Hundred Names when I needed to read it the most.

One Hundred Names opens in a hospital, where Kitty Logan asks her dying mentor, Constance Dubois, about the one story she's always wished to write. It's a difficult time for Kitty as well. She made an error in one of her stories, the scandalous kind, that caused her a suspension from her job as a TV-journalist and set her network back big time. It's a mistake that may forever ruin her career. She's hanging on to her other job at Etcetera magazine, however unrelated to the TV scandal, by a thread.

Constance asks her to retrieve a list of one hundred names-- a list that had something to do with the story she had in mind. Before Kitty can get back with the list, Constance passes away. As a part of her tribute issue, Kitty needs to find out what connects these people; the very nature of the story Constance wanted to write. There isn't much time to piece it all together... it's ONE HUNDRED different people, and lives, she'll have to delve into... and her job might just depend on it.

I can definitely picture this book being made into a movie. It would be one of those romcoms with a slightly quirkier twist, and dialogues that are meaningful and sometimes even funny. The plot might seem a bit contrived: the way most plots involving a large cast are. It features six very different, very dreamy, "ordinary" but interesting people... people who, like in most books that have several subplots, gradually find their stories intermingling when they are thrown in a common setting.

Reading One Hundred Names, however, felt far from contrived. I've always admired the earnestness in Cecelia Ahern's writing. I'm glad she doesn't stick to the same formula. Instead, she always tells us different kinds of stories that take on different perspectives; retaining the freshness in her narration. In this book, it's the earnestness of the main players that gets to you. It's easy to picture them living their lives, one day at a time. 

Kitty attempts to uncover what Constance could've possibly wanted to write about them- practically drilling various angles into their lives... and as the arc finally dawns on her- it humbles her, and the reader. It's not something you couldn't have guessed several chapters before. In fact, I think it was pretty clear from the beginning. Still, it's beautiful because it's something all of us take for granted but is very very true.

One Hundred Names, through wonderful characterization, several humorous and WTF moments, is one heck of a journey! Before you know it, you are a part of their lives: laughing, groaning, whooping and cheering them on! Their energy is your energy. It reminds you of the value of a genuine and positive story; how wasteful it is that we are constantly on the lookout for superficiality, drama, a "dark" past and conflict instead. It encourages you to look beyond the surface, at what is already around and within you. 

Rating: ★★★★★