ARC Book Review: The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard


ashley | The description of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard promises everything I love in a book; a serial killer, secrets from the past coming back, intrigue and suspense! It’s also set in Dublin, which is another weakness of mine. Even though the book description seems to give a lot of details about the story that seem kind of spoiler-y, this really sounded like it could be a unique, twisty read.

I was pretty much hooked by the first few pages. I really liked the perspective the story began from, I really liked the scene it was setting and how the pieces were coming together. It was something new for me and I found that really refreshing. Throughout the rest of the book, the timeline shifts from Now and Then, a favourite format of mine. It works really well here and there is enough happening in each time to keep the reader intrigued.

The further I read, the more it pulled me in. Not only was it written well with lots of little details, but there was also this undertone raging against the machine and technology and social media that I can’t help but relate to. (Is it bad that I’m relating to one of the prime frustrations that drive the killer? Let’s not dwell too much on that, shall we?) Not to mention how dangerous it is to put all this information out there. We hear that all the time, it’s almost common sense, and yet we rarely heed the warning. I liked how this built the foundation for the book; such a simple, droned about concept blowing up into such and awful situation.

I liked the character development; Alison was very self aware, she knew herself well and the book took the time to explore and defy a lot of go-to situations that you see pop up a lot in books, but are used just as one-liners to sort of fill in gaps or set a scene. I found that Howard often took these little tid-bits a step further. It’s not a huge gesture, but I love little details like that and frankly, a lot of these inner dialogue moments with Alison reminded me a lot of conversations I’ve had myself, which drew me really close to the character. And Will, despite what I knew about him, or thought I knew about him, I could not help but feel charmed by him. That is the beauty of this story, from the beginning I could not believe that a character like this could be the character he was being described as. So many conflicting feelings.

But I especially loved the relationships between the characters. The mother/daughter relationship, which can often seem like a one dimensional stereotype (ooh, she doesn’t get along with her mom!) really showed the disconnect, but also a lot of hurt and misunderstanding. Alison’s relationship with her best friend Liz brought back high school nightmares with how accurately it portrayed the complications of female friendships that are dripping with resentment and jealousy. Even Alison’s relationship with Will, their connection seemed so passionately deep without that cheesy desperate insta-love and given the complications of how things turned out for them, and the rainbow of feelings that exist between them now, I found it really interesting to witness that dynamic. The chemistry and anger and betrayal and that teeny tiny lingering thread of hope.

Sadly, I know those sordid female friendship far too well and once I got a hint of it, I could see the direction that story was going to go in, or at least the direction a tangent was going in, and could decipher a huge part of the twist in the end. But Howard did it eerily well, this complicated, conniving, girl vs girl frienemy relationship.

Pretty much the entire book, I was kept on my toes, no idea at all about what was up or down, happened or didn’t happen. I liked how Will had charmed me over, even though a part of me kept repeating that he could be a liar – it’s calledThe Liar’s Girl, after all. But I also really liked that I had no idea what outcome I preferred, what would leave me satisfied. Did I want him to be the good guy or the bad guy? I had no idea.

I just really enjoyed so much about this book. The reason I’m not giving it a full five stars is because I wasn’t totally taken by surprise in the end and another very small part of the book that blossomed between Alison and the young Gardai who was tending to her. That just annoyed me, frankly. But those were minor details in what was otherwise an enjoyable, unique and thrilling read that had my interest right from the start.

more information
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march 1, 2018
copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley