Thursday, June 21, 2018

THE LIES THEY TELL by Gillian French

Rating: F
Synopsis:With shades of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Gayle Forman’s I Was Here, this dark and twisted mystery will be the page-turner of the year.

Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor, Maine, knows about the Garrison tragedy. How an unexplained fire ravaged their house, killing four of the five family members. But what people don’t know is who did it. All fingers point at Pearl Haskins’s father, the town drunk, who was the caretaker of the property, but she just can’t believe it. Leave it to a town of rich people to blame “the help.”

With her disgraced father now trying to find work in between booze benders, Pearl’s future doesn’t hold much more than waiting tables at the local country club, where the wealthy come to flaunt their money and spread their gossip. This year, Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, and his group of affluent and arrogant friends have made a point of sitting in Pearl’s section. Though she’s repulsed by most of them, Tristan’s quiet sadness and somber demeanor have her rethinking her judgments. Befriending the boys could mean getting closer to the truth, clearing her father’s name, and giving Tristan the closure he seems to be searching for. But it could also trap Pearl in a sinister web of secrets, lies, and betrayals that, once untangled, will leave no life unchanged . . . if it doesn’t take hers first.

My thoughts on the book:
Let me start off this review by saying that the biggest lies and betrayals that are associated with this book are in the synopsis. I was so excited to dig into this novel, expecting so many twists and turns that I could hardly keep up. What I got was a boring and clunky narrative that read more like a Laguna Beach rerun than a thriller or mystery. There are plot holes bigger than the mansion the novel talks about, and there are no twists or turns to keep the reader interested. The only reason I kept reading was because I was waiting on something huge to happen and blow my mind. Nothing happened that I couldn't see coming a mile away, and needless to say I was disappointed. I want those hours of my life back. 

Pearl is probably the most boring character I've ever read. She's super one-dimensional, and even though she claimed to have emotions, the emotions didn't actually come across. I couldn't feel anything. I didn't connect to her at all; I had no empathy or sympathy for her. I really didn't care what happened to her because she was so dull. Her best friend is a jerk, and she is a doormat for him. Yet he's somehow painted as some good guy/hero, and I don't understand that. Reese isn't someone worth wasting time on. Her Dad isn't a real character... he is more a caricature of a drunk, and again there is no emotion from him, really. Tristan acts like a narcissistic zombie, Bridges acts like a lap dog with no mind of his own, and Akil is an even bigger jerk than Reese, somehow. The other filler characters are just as dull, and I can't even remember their names. 

The plot makes little sense, and the pace is super slow. Nothing really happens, either. It just reads like some teen reality show. Characters overreact about strange things, but the emotions feel false. The writing is clunky at best. The third person limited narrative for this type of story is actually jarring at times and removes you from the dull tale. It is obvious who the guilty party is from the beginning... so obvious that I thought the guilty party couldn't be who it obviously is. The guilty part is who it obviously is, though. There is not a single twist or turn in this book. The ending also makes no sense. There should have been some fallout from Pearl's actions, but there is nothing. They throw some circumstantial evidence around, and boom everything is perfect. Nothing is actually explained. There is no surprise with anything, and the unrealistic ending was just the final straw for me. 

If you can't tell, I'm irritated that I spent hours of my life reading this book. I just kept hanging on to the false hope that something exciting would happen. I feel deceived by the synopsis, and I hate plot holes and endings that don't even make sense. If you're looking for an intriguing and thrilling summer mystery, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. This is the worst book I've read in a long time. 

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