Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Complicated Deceptions: Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I was born with a light covering of fur.
After three days it had all fallen off, but the damage was done. My mother stopped trusting my father because it was a family condition he had not told her about. One of many omissions and lies.
My father is a liar and so am I.
But I'm going to stop. I have to stop.
I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions.
That's my promise.
This time I truly mean it.

I've just finished reading Liar and I have to stop and catch my breath. Justine Larbalestier's latest book is freaking amazing!

First of all, there's the intricately crafted plot. Presented to us by Micah, our narrator, in three sections:

1) Telling the Truth
2) Telling the True Truth, and
3) The Actual Real Truth

Each section circles back on the others, adding layers of detail which confuse and alter the storyline until it resembles a kaleidescope. This is a story in which anything is possible, but nothing is certain. And when I say anything is possible, I mean anything. Is Micah a compulsive liar, or is she crazy? Why do her parents reject her? Is she a killer? Is she actually human, or is she something else altogether? Not to give anything away, but let me just say that the more Micah's story accretes, the more bizarre and riveting it gets. Micah may be the ultimate unreliable narrator, but she gets under your skin all the same.

Then there are all the rich themes. Truth versus fantasy. Identity. The complications of the female body. Sexuality and its link to the feral. Guilt. The uneasy relationship between love and aggression. This book takes them all on superbly, darkly, entertainingly. And the ending is so satisfyingly open.

This is what I thought would happen. This is what could have happened. This is what did happen.

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