Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Liars Inc.

Liars Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Published: March 24th, 2015
Hardcover, 368 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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 foes 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.

Wow. Paula has gone in the complete opposite direction from her last book, The Art of Lainey, and man did she do a fantastic job with it! This book was a mystery right to the end and Paula has captured the voice of a high school boy while keeping us on our toes as we try to figure out what exactly happened. From the start you do not know who to trust and who not to. Max's friends give off hints of distrust this way and that and it made for so much subtle tension and mystery. Max is great at lying and he and his friends use it to their advantage by founding Liars Inc., a company helps forge parents notes and fake phone calls. Things are going great for the friends, they are making money and gaining popularity, but when Preston asks Max to cover for him and the next day Preston disappears, suddenly it's all on Max and he's being followed and suspected of murder.

I can't give anything away, because I want you all to go out and read this book. Thrillers and mysteries are still rare in YA so when I find a good one, I devour it. I love not knowing whodunit and the progress of finding out. With so many unreliable characters and so many twists and turns along the way, this book kept me guessing until the very end. Max is a great protagonist I was rooting for him from the start, but kind of hoping he'd learn he didn't need Preston or Parvati to survive high school. Neither of them seemed like the kind of people I'd want to be friends with and Parvati was certainly not the best girlfriend. The more that went wrong in Max's life, the more I hoped he got his happy ending. Paula captured the essence of a teenage boy as well as I can picture (I mean, who really knows what goes through a boy's head besides boys?) His dialogue and inner thinkings were so well written.

The plot wasn't the only great thing about this book. There were diverse characters, something that is still too rare to see. Parvati is half Indian and Max's adopted twin sisters are Korean. Max also comes from a different background from most characters. He grew up in an orphanage and was adopted when he was around 10 years old. He has some family issues as he's still too scared to give himself fully over to his new family and while everything else was going on in his life, his parents were always there for him and wanting to be let in. I love seeing family relationships in books, whether it's a healthy relationship or something that takes some time to be better.

If you'll looking for a quick, fast paced read that will leave you guessing and craving more, this is one to pick up. A great mystery for a younger audience or those who love these kinds of books.

A lot of kids think high school represents the best years of their lives, but others recognize that it's mostly irrelevant bullshit, and that life doesn't even begin until afterward."

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