LIAR Book Poster Image

LIAR

(i)

 

Intense fantasy about a compulsive liar and/or werewolf.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This book offers plenty for teens to discuss, from the author's decision to create an unreliable narrator -- to their own guesses about what actually happens in this story. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for more ideas.

Positive messages

This book isn't really heavy on the moral, but Micah's character could lead parents into some good conversations with their kids about trust, and what happens when it's broken. Could also lead to good discussion about how outsiders get treated, especially at school.

Positive role models

You certainly wouldn't want your kid to act like Micah, who at minimum is a liar -- and could even be a murderer. She is a sympathetic character, however, and readers may want to think about how she is treated at school. How do outsiders fare at your own school?

Violence

This book begins with the murder of Micah's secret boyfriend. Later on, Micah describes finding his body ("How can you recognize someone when their face is gone?). She also attacks a boy who is being mean to another girl at school.

Sex

Though she tells her parents that she never had sex with Zach, Micah later admits that "other than running [having sex] was what we did most." After his funeral, she shares kisses with both Zach's official girlfriend and his best friend. She later says they went further together the next time they got together, but then says it was a lie.

Language

Plenty of adult stuff, like "f--k," "bitch," etc. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know this is an intense book for mature teens. Micah, the main character, is a compulsive liar who claims to be a werewolf (though some of the adults around her think she has psychological problems). Her secret boyfriend is murdered, and later Micah reveals how she found his body, which had been ripped to shreds. Micah also talks about their intense sexual relationship, and later describes kissing and more with two other classmates. The language can be rough at times, as can the narrative.

What's the story?

It's easy to believe that Micah's a compulsive liar, especially after she starts revealing all the lies she's told (like pretending to be a boy during her freshman year of school). It's harder to trust her when she says that she had nothing to do with her boyfriend's murder -- or that she is now capable of telling the whole and complete truth. Readers won't know what to think when she tells them she's actually a werewolf -- especially when police discover that Zach was eviscerated in New York City's Central Park by something that looks like dogs.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This book is simply thrilling. Is Micah actually a werewolf, or is she, as one teacher theorizes, simply a confused girl who's "rejecting [her] own body" by pretending to be something more masculine? Either way, did she kill Zach -- and was it intentional or just something that happened in the heat of the moment? Not knowing the answers is, of course, much of the fun, and readers will love racing through this fast-paced book trying to sort out the truth. Micah's non-linear storytelling gives readers more to sort out, as do the various theories about the origin of werewolves. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about controversy over the book's US cover. Though Micah describes herself as black, she was portrayed as white on the cover that first came out (they have since changed it). In the author's blog, she says that while she objected, "editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell." She asks readers "When was the last time you bought a book with a person of colour on the front cover?" Does the face on the cover make a difference in your own buying choices?  

  • Micah is a good example of an unreliable narrator. Even at the book's end, readers will wonder what they can believe. Can you think of other books with unreliable narrators? Do you find that this makes a book more interesting, or do you get frustrated wondering what to believe?

Book details

Author:Justine Larbalestier
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:September 29, 2009
Number of pages:388
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byBookFaerie April 15, 2011

better for older teens

i liked the book. i thought it was fun finding out wheather she lied or not and all, but the language they used was innapropriate. I'm pretty sure it had every bad word there is in the world in it at least twice
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 2 and 3 year old Written byreadresponsibly June 4, 2010

Ill classified as a teen novel

Honestly, I thought it was a waste of my time. The premise was off to begin with. (Is she telling the truth? Is she lying? You never really know.) Second, I (the adult, not the teenager) came away feeling mineral and sullied. I think literature should uplift and educate, and I felt like this book did just the opposite. There are so many good books in this world, I'd rather my child read something else. I would hardly encourage a friendship with Micah, at least one where you listen to 384 pages of her lies (some pretty disturbing). Why would I want my child to sit through that?
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byharrypotterlover10 November 1, 2009

Leave it for the teens!

This is a really good book. I am reading it right now. The concerns I do have is langue and sex (it doesn't describe it). It has a lot of cuasing in it though. Micah can be concidered a bad role modle because of all the lieing she does.
What other families should know
Great messages