Publishing Info: March 24, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 3, 2015
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.
I’m always looking for more YA mysteries and thrillers so when I first heard about LIARS, INC, I was VERY excited! I was finally in the mood for a good mystery read so I picked it up right around its release date, hoping to instantly get hooked on another exciting book. The beginning started off well, reminding me of Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, which I loved and inhaled last year, but shortly thereafter, I felt my mind drifting as I read and was having a hard time staying focused.
Long story short, LIARS, INC is a murder-mystery and for some reason I just have a very hard time finding young adult books that properly capture the essence of a great murder-mystery. I think it’s just because of the age range. Obviously we’re reading about mostly teenagers in YA and there are too many times when it’s illogical to have a teen involved in a crime investigation so in order to work that angle in properly, I feel like compromises have to be made and there are too many YA mysteries that just feel forced. I only felt it slightly with LIARS, INC but it was noticeable enough for me that the transitions from scene to scene and overall path of the plot just didn’t quite sit right with me for some reason.
The plot revolves around three main characters — Max (the MC), Parvati (his girlfriend), and Preston (their mutual friend). They have a sort of weird sexual tension between the three of them and I’m definitely not against sex in YA books at all but the role that their sexually-charged, jealousy-ridden non-love triangle played just felt like it would have been more natural in an adult book than young adult. Maybe that’s just a personal thing since I was fairly conservative in high school but it was just enough for me to notice and feel just a smidge turned-off since it was an ever-present thing and a driving force of the novel.
I also had an issue connecting with the characters. I liked Max a lot but it wasn’t until literally the VERY end that I felt like the walls came down and I got to see a more personal side of him. I can understand that he’s a guarded person and doesn’t easily let people in but it really prevented me as a reader from really connecting with him. I just wasn’t really a fan of Parvati or Preston at all though. The both seemed a little static for me and I also had a hard time connecting with them. I really liked the idea of how these three became friends and I also really liked the idea of their Liars, Inc plan (something I wish I had gotten to see more of), but the murder-mystery took the stage and that was okay too.
I actually really enjoyed the ending! Paula Stokes definitely devised a great mystery. I’ve had a few issues where I’ve guessed the ending before and it kind of ruined the book a little bit, but I really did not know how LIARS, INC was going to end! I even tried guessing — several times — and didn’t even come close so I was so happy to see a unique ending that had me confused and excited until the very end! I also really loved how you can’t even describe the ending in one sentence. The answer to “whodunit” is far more complicated than “the butler did it” and I think that also really prevented me from guessing how everything came together!
All-in-all, the ending really pulled everything together for me but I still had issues with the flow of the book. I just really wish I had connected to it more before the ending. It seems like a lot of people are really enjoying it which is a great! There’s a chance I just may be too picky about my mysteries so this one didn’t quite do it for me.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Max // Character Obsessions: Parvati, friendship, family, indifference to trends.
I actually liked Max! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was from his POV only (for some reason I thought it was multiple POVs before I started) and I really liked getting to know him. It was interesting to see how Max, Parvati, and Preston all became friends because of their apathy, I guess you could say. They didn’t care how anyone else did things and they just did things their way.
Parvati // Character Obsessions: Risks yet playing it safe, Max, thrills.
I think part of my issue was that I wasn’t a fan of Parvati. It wasn’t totally negative but she felt a little too “snooty rich girl” for me even though that was sort of the stereotype she was contradicting. I still felt it there, possibly just because she had that cocky sort of confidence? But that’s not always something I get along with. I can’t QUITE place my finger on it but I wasn’t a big fan.
Kept Me Hooked On: Twisty YA thrillers. I always, always need more good YA mysteries. For some reason it’s so hard for me to really get into them and I LOVE adult mysteries. I think often times I feel like the mystery would fit better in an adult setting (like this books) and I feel like it’s almost harder to fit everything into a YA novel just because of the circumstances. This one had a really interesting ending and was perfect for YA characters!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. I had a hard time staying engaged the first part of the book. I just wished I had been as into it as I was towards the end. The beginning had a lot set-up and I think it could have benefitted from a few more thrills to bring the reader in.
I’ve actually seen quite a few four and five star reviews on Goodreads! This one didn’t really do it for me but I know that my issue was mostly with characters and some with pacing. I enjoyed the overall plot but it didn’t quite gel for me.
BOOKS LIKE LIARS, INC
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7 thoughts on “Liars, Inc – Paula Stokes”
So I just finished this book and creeped on your review once I saw it on GR… The part about how difficult it is to get behind YA mysteries because it feels unrealistic – YES. That’s exactly my issue. I just can never fathom that teenagers are knee-deep in something like this. I also wasn’t really able to relate to the characters at all. I liked Max but never connected with him, and Preston and Parvati were even worse for me. I think it partially has to do with suspecting everyone? But still, it would have been nice to get to know them more. YES, and to see more of Liars Inc! It was the title of the book and everything lol.
I do love twisty YA thrillers, the two other books you mention are also on my to read list. Bummer the pacing is a bit off but definitely sounds worth trying out!
After my experience with Every Breath I am weary of YA murder mysteries for the time being. And I am one of the few who didn’t LOVE The Art of Lainey (I just liked it) so I am still a unsure about this one, especially seeing that you had some trouble with it. But maybe someday!
I’m really curious about Liars, Inc! It sounds so interesting, and I’m curious to see how the mystery part of it all plays out 🙂
I’m really intrigued by this one after seeing all the buzz (especially when you add that it was a surprising ending). I’m not sure why but this one keeps reminding me of Shift by Jennifer Bradbury so that might be another one you may want to try.
It is incredibly difficult to find a YA novel that truly blows me away with it’s dark, twist, and shocking ending. I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of involvement in a criminal investigation or they’re just typically less complex.For me I think the best mysteries are those that are solvable but still impactful and that usually depends on how the author unveils the clues. Sometimes they seem intentionally evasive and other times they are too obvious. I usually figure the ending out but it’s good to see that in this case you didn’t figure it out which is always cool. Great review!
I’m super picky about mysteries too and I didn’t love this one. I liked the characters more than you did (I loved the creepy love triangle), but I guessed what happened to Preston and who Adam was pretty early on and even though I was still surprised by some of the smaller details, I was disappointed about that. I can’t remember if you’ve read Far From You, but that’s my favorite YA murder mystery and the only one I’ve read where I haven’t guessed the ending. Great review!