First, let's talk about how great a title that is! Friends and Other Liars. Doesn't just sum up middle school/high school in four simple words?
Here is what it is about:
To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he's dead.
When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby's whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.
Because even friends keep secrets. They just don't stay secret for long.
Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blurb, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.
Side note: The first line of that blurb reminds me of a lyric from The Band Perry's song If I Die Young. "Funny when you're dead how people start listening."
Anyway, back to the review.
This book reads like the 80s movie The Big Chill meets Clue (the movie, not the board game, which I hear they are remaking by the way! And Ryan Reynolds is going to be in it. Wow, I am easily distractible today.)
People who were friends a decade ago have gathered again in the wake of a friend's suicide and are confronted with the ultimatum of revealing their darkest secrets themselves or having them revealed for them. It is a story of teenage decisions leading to adult judgement and how well do you really know those closest to you?
Overall, I enjoyed the story. It is told a little heavy-handed for my taste. I kept waiting for the threat of their secrets to really up the suspense, but it stayed at a low burn the whole book.
The story is told through a dual timeline (with flashbacks within flashbacks) and multiple POVs (point-of-view). The characters voices weren't quite different enough to make the multiple POVs work for me.
Also, complete personal preference, I don't care for the trend of the character "breaking the fourth wall." Multiple times a character addresses the reader directly. That takes me out of the story. Don't talk to me. Just go about your twisted little journey and let me watch.
The story is intriguing with some decent twists. As in The Big Chill, there is plenty of blame and unresolved conflicts thrown around. But the characters kept me at arms' length. I couldn't fully empathize or sympathize with them, and that made the story drag some for me.
That being said, I would recommend this book to friends who like a good, angsty story, and I would be willing to check out more from this author.