Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: Liar

Liar Liar by Justine Larbalestier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the years since Justine Larbalestier published this book, it's become the subject of some controversy, much of which owes to Larbalestier being a white woman writing a black main character who is a compulsive liar. A black girl who may or may not be genderfluid, or even a trans boy - hell, it's hard not to read Micah as such, because of her history of having at least once attempted to pass as a boy, and taking birth-control pills to prevent her periods. Because they're just that heavy, but again, it's hard to not read a little deeper into it. Her gender-neutral name really helps with the transgender reading.

Larbalestier does, at the very least, admit to her own faults in writing outside of her lane, in numerous posts on her blog.

That said, though, she pens a shockingly addictive story, even if (a little similarly to Razorhurst, though this book has a less pronounced case of the syndrome I'm about to describe) it sometimes moves a little too quickly when you want to stop and think about the unreliable nature of the narrator, and whether or not Micah's really telling the truth about what she's recounting in anachronic order.

And then there's the paranormal twist. I won't reveal it here - numerous Goodreads reviews happily spoil it, so be careful not to read any of them if you've never read this book - but it's another layer of "is it or isn't it true?" to make the book that much more complex, and it's an arrestingly original take on a mythology that's widely agreed as having been done to death and most literary agents won't take it.

It's not my favorite Larbalestier book, not after My Sister Rosa, but for now, it's at least a pretty close second.

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