Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, Feb 6th, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Hmm! I’m pretty torn on Friends and Other Liars, and I think it comes from how I just expected something drastically different. So let me go ahead and explain what did and didn’t work for me, and see what you think!
Loving this cover.
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.
So when I heard about Friends and Other Liars, I was immediately on board. It combines SO many things I love: secrets, lies, alternating timelines, multiple POVs, big ensemble cast, big group of friends, someone returning home after a long time away, letters from beyond the grave, BLACKMAIL FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.
I was SO here for this book.
So… I’m sorry (and surprised) to say I don’t really love it. I expected mystery, suspense, a Pretty Little Liars vibe. Friends and Other Liars is actually, really, a pretty run-of-the-mill contemporary story. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what I expected, and because I was always waiting for the mystery and intrigue to start, I was left feeling fairly unfulfilled.
I expected dark and twisted, and was given a will-they-or-won’t-they love story.
I like the writing. Simple and effective. We have two timelines: now, when the characters are all around 28, and then, which goes through their time in high school.
Narration is first person and switches between three characters, though through the vast majority of both present and former timelines, Ruby is our narrator. I think this is one area where I was a little let down. When the narration first switched, I thought we’d get to see through the eyes of everyone in “the crew,” which is what they call their friend group.
I kept thinking there was a pacing issue, which turned out to be my misplaced expectations. It starts awesome, with Danny narrating his own funeral, and all the characters gathering to receive their blackmail letters. Then it slows way down, with Ruby telling us the story of her and Murphy, her best friend and something of a love interest.
I guess I thought the secrets, the blackmail, would play a bigger part. After the initial excitement, we don’t even hear about them again until about halfway through.
This is another disappointment, as the crew is such a huge part of the story, yet most members of the crew get very little screen time. Until halfway through, I barely felt I knew any of the members other than Ruby and Murphy.
I like Ruby. I feel for Ruby, I root for Ruby. The rest of the characters I barely feel I know well enough to judge. Except Murphy, who I don’t love. He treats Ruby terribly, both in present and past timelines, and she pines, and it’s exhausting.
I went in expecting this full and rich friend dynamic, and ended up feeling underwhelmed by it. I wanted a big ensemble, not just Ruby and Murphy.
I think this is just one of those times where I, personally, could not connect to what is not a bad book. I just wanted something different, and didn’t know until much too late that I had expected all the wrong things.
*Each of these beautiful photos links to an IG post, show these people some love!*
*I don’t own any of the photos used for aesthetics in this post. Each photo links to where I found it!*