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Review: The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

04 Aug

This book and I did not get along. It isn’t that it was a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

Description via Goodreads.com:

Life on the tiny island of Guernsey has just become a whole lot harder for fifteen-year-old Cat Rozier. She’s gone from model pupil to murderer, but she swears it’s not her fault. Apparently it’s all the fault of history.

A new arrival at Cat’s high school in 1984, the beautiful and instantly popular Nicolette inexplicably takes Cat under her wing. The two become inseparable—going to parties together, checking out boys, and drinking whatever liquor they can shoplift. But a perceived betrayal sends them spinning apart, and Nic responds with cruel, over-the-top retribution.

Cat’s recently deceased father, Emile, dedicated his adult life to uncovering the truth about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey—from Churchill’s abandonment of the island to the stories of those who resisted—in hopes of repairing the reputation of his older brother, Charlie. Through Emile’s letters and Charlie’s words—recorded on tapes before his own death— a “confession” takes shape, revealing the secrets deeply woven into the fabric of the island . . . and into the Rozier family story.

I picked this because I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and The Book of Lies was also set on the island of Guernsey.  For future reference, this is a ridiculous way to pick a book.  Guernsey was a very gentle book, and this one, well “gentle” isn’t anywhere in my description of it.

For me, The Book of Lies was too heavy on the dark, without enough light to counterbalance it. All the characters were deeply flawed, without positive characteristics to allow me to relate. Cat was a smart (but not socially savvy) teen, and usually that’s enough for me. That’s probably why I kept expecting to start liking the book soon. Unfortunately, while I did feel sorry for her, I didn’t like the decisions she made, and I didn’t want to spend my reading time with her.

The other characters in the modern storyline were at least as bad. I’m sure they had positive attributes, but as reader, I never saw them. The teens were horrendous, the adults oblivious. I had hopes for the teacher, but he was too weak to be interesting (although he certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him).

I couldn’t get up enough interest in the historical storyline to care about the characters. It was written as an interview transcript, and the style seemed meant to distance the reader from the events. It certainly had that effect on me.

All that said, I still don’t think it was a bad book. It was well written, with characters that had stories that came through in their actions. It had history that I didn’t know about, and a very different perspective than I’ve seen about the lasting effects of life during wartime. The interweaving of the two time periods, and the similarities and differences in the plotlines in them, would have been compelling if I’d just been able to get into the characters a little more.

For someone with a little more tolerance for realistically disagreeable characters, this could be a wonderful read.  For me, well, I’m learning more about what I do and don’t like in a book.

I read The Book of Lies as part of a TLC book tour.  Thank you to TLC and Harper Collins for providing a copy of the book for me to read and giving me the opportunity to take part in this tour. For other opinions on The Book of Lies, visit the other tour stops (most of which enjoyed the book far more than I did):

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4 Comments

Posted by on August 4, 2011 in books, reviews, tour

 

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4 responses to “Review: The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

  1. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    August 4, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I can see how the characters would be hard to like, but I really liked this book. I think I felt bad for Cat even though i don’t agree with how she acted with regard to the teacher. I really liked how the author merged the two stories. I’ve linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

     
  2. Sue Jackson

    August 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Sounds interesting – I appreciated the thorough, well-balanced review, Laura!

    Sue

     
  3. Heather J. @ TLC

    August 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I’m sorry this one didn’t turn out to be what you’d hoped, but thanks for being on the tour.

     

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