Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Title: The Liar Society
Author: Lisa and Laura Roecker
Genre: YA Mystery
Publishing Information: 368 pages; March 1st, 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
Series: The Liar Society #1 

Where I got it: E-book from the library

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.

Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
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. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

Main characters: 3.5/5

Kate was intriguing because she was trying to figure herself out as much as anyone else and I think the Roecker's did a good job of portraying her conflict. There were qualities about Kate that I admired, and qualities that I cringed at, but together they made a compelling main character. She was determined, smart, witty and honorable. I didn't like the way she treated Seth a lot of the time, but I could tell that she was still a good-hearted person. I liked some of the quirky inclusions, like Kate's pink hair. I also enjoyed the way that Kate learned so much about herself throughout the mystery and it was truly a healing process. 

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of depth given about the lives of minor characters off the bat, including Taylor and Bethany. It was interesting to hear Kate's take on them and connect the rumors and family lives with the characters. As a reader, I don't get that level of detail about relatively minor characters often. I do wish that I had some more physical detail so I could picture the characters in my mind. Grace fit a stereotype that I'll call "Dynamic-best-friend-ends-up-dead", seen in the TV series "Pretty Little Liars", where the popular and outgoing best friend is the one who dies. This leaves her quieter and less popular best friends in a mess after her death. Seth was a cute and quirky guy and I loved reading the interactions between him and Kate, even if I felt bad for him. I like how the relationship between Kate, Liam and Seth turned into an almost love-triangle, but not really. I had mixed feelings about Liam; I feel like he was in a lot of ways underdeveloped and it was hard to get a read on him.

Writing style: 3/5

The opening chapter moved slowly and it was difficult to get into. After the intriguing and thrilling opening email, I was expecting some action right off the back and it was tough to read through long details of the past. The flashbacks sometimes seemed random although I appreciated the look back to the past to learn more about Grace, Kate and Maddie before Grace's death. Kate's voice was bitingly witty in some places and achingly sad in others, which was a fantastic mix. The Roeckers also did a fine job of creating suspense and tension through their writing, which kept me on edge through so much of the story.

Plot: 3/5
I hate nitpicking little plot things, but right off the bat I was shaking my head in disbelief over a couple things. Kate is convinced that the email couldn't be a joke because no one could hack into their school's database, but if they live in the 21st century, I'm pretty sure there's a hacker who could get in. I was intrigued by the plot clues, including Cameron's sketch, because they made me think about the mystery as well, instead of waiting back for Kate to solve it herself. When I had the same clues as Kate did, I felt just as involved because I at least felt like I could solve it too. That proved not to be the case because the whole mystery had me stumped. Without giving anything away, I felt like the 'bad guys' were more ominous than was justifiable, and these 'bad guys' are pretty easy targets for being the 'big bad' in novels. Regardless, I was fascinated by the mystery and I was really only disappointed that there were no huge hints or clues for me to really dig my teeth into. Those clues that I thought I could solve were really just teases.

Ending: 3/5

I like that while the mystery was solved, justice wasn't necessarily served. Not everything ended up perfect, but Kate discovers that life goes on. Even though plot-wise the ending wasn't rewarding, Kate grew so much as a character and discovered herself and that was what made it entertaining and worthwhile.
Best scene: I loved the homecoming scene and the descriptions of the theme & attendees

Positives: Strong and three-dimensional main character, well rounded secondary cast, excellent tension and pacing for the most part, the fact that the ending didn't solve everything

Negatives: Overused plot & plot devices, some slow sections, a couple minor characters could have used more development (I think it was an attempt at making them mysterious/possibly the 'bad guy' but I still would have liked more).

Cover: I love the representation of Kate! She's so awesome and quirky. The pink hair + the preppy outfit= love. The one knock is that the cover is more lighthearted than the book was. The book was such a blend of a witty main character, a mystery and self-discovery and some of that was lost on the simple cover.

Verdict: A fun and surprisingly deep YA prep school mystery

Rating: 6.4/10 (3 stars)

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