Thursday, November 15, 2018

Book Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

 Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: N/A
Audience: +16
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 24th 2015
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: Won
Blurb (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 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.
*Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway hosted by the author. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.
I've been meaning to read this book for a while now, because the synopsis sounded really interesting, and because I loved the other Paula Stokes book I've read, Girl Against The Universe. I was very glad to finally read this book, let me tell you.

I don't know what I was expecting, but this story went places I didn't imagine it would go. Liars, Inc. is a story full of twists and turns, and I wasn't sure who I could trust. It all starts off as a seemingly innocent game between teenagers. Let's be honest, we've all, at one point or another growing up, wished we could get out of something at school, whether a bad grade for not doing our homework, or a permission for being absent a certain day. Max, the main character, with the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, takes this wish a little bit further, and starts Liars, Inc., a service for his schoolmates where they purchase a slip, a permission, a signature to get out of school or detention. My former student self appreciates the deviousness of this plan, because, in a way, it is genius. My former teacher self, however, cringed a lot, because how could the parents not know their kids were missing school?

Max was a good character. He's a hurt individual. His life wasn't the easiest and that makes him be very weary of people, and he doesn't accept that many people around him. He's not really sure why Parvati and Preston are friends with him, and that doubt is present with him the entire time. On the other hand, the people who do accept him, the ones who love him for who he is, don't know how to have a healthy relationship with him, because Max keeps them at arm's length. I liked seeing Max's inner struggle, but I also had a little bit of trouble accepting the way he kept himself distant from his adoptive family. I understand it, like I said, but I still hoped he would accept them a little bit more.

The plot develops over the course of a few weeks, and I really enjoyed the fast pace of the book. I also loved not knowing who I could trust. Since this is a pretty twisted story, everyone is a suspect. Who wants to frame Max? Who made Preston disappear? Why is Max the target? That last question was really the most important question for me, maybe even more than who was doing it. Because unlike Preston and Parvati, Max is from a rather poor family. They don't have money, they don't have power, they're pretty regular, hard-working people. So it didn't make sense to me why would Max, of all people, be the target. And why through Preston. Why not Parvati, his girlfriend. And then the last few chapters happened and my mind was blown.

There aren't that many things that can surprise me, but this story did. I had two suspects, and while none of them turned out to be the actual bad guy, I wouldn't call them exactly innocent. Each character in this book had their part in the events that happen in the story, and I truly loved that. Nothing is what it seems in this book, and I really enjoyed that. Although I'm usually not a super fan of open endings, I feel like the ending was fitting for Max. We don't know what happens next, we can just imagine what his life will be like.

All in all, this was a really great story, and since I read it around Halloween, it was the perfect read for that spooky time of year.

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