Liar Spoiler Thread (updated)

If you’re busting to talk about Liar with other people who’ve read it this is the place for you. Here you can say whatever you want about the book without fear. Go forth, speak, theorise, argue, enjoy!

For those of you haven’t read it you really really really do not want to look at the comments below. Go here to see my arguments as to why you do not want to be spoiled. You should also avoid reviews.1

Liar is a book that even people who normally ADORE spoilers have said they were very glad they weren’t spoiled before they read it. Like Tim Pratt for instance who said:

I’m one of those people who isn’t bothered by spoilers and sometimes seeks them out . . . but, yeah, Liar is much better unspoiled, I must admit. A real whiplash-inducing reading experience.

Listen to him and me. Read the book first and then come back here.

Are we clear?

Okay then: let the spoiler thread commence!

Update: I won’t be taking part in the discussion. You gets to play amongst yourselves without the bossy author intervening. If you have any questions for me take them across to the Liar FAQ.

  1. You should especially avoid the Horn Book review of Liar because it’s so outrageously spoilery I cried when I read it. Though if you’ve read Liar you should definitely check it out because it’s a very interesting take on the novel. []

107 comments

  1. Justine on #

    I wasn’t kidding about the spoiler thing. If you haven’t read Liar GO AWAY!

    If you read what’s below this you will REGRET it for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

    Borrow someone else’s copy. Read it. And only then return.

  2. Rebekah on #

    I have to agree with Mr. Pratt–I usually love spoilers (I even went seeking out what people said would happen the week before the Deathly Hallows came out), but enjoying Liar the first time ’round really depends on having no idea what’s going to happen. It doesn’t really work well otherwise—but what a twist. I’m still obsessed with it and I finished it on Tuesday.

  3. Andrew on #

    A thought that occurred to me recently—anything that Micah insists is true is likely to be a lie. However, the reverse is also possible—anything that she says was a lie might actually be the truth.

    Also—maybe she’s actually a sparkly vampire, but because of her self-loathing, insists that she’s a werewolf instead.

  4. Stacy on #

    LIAR bent my brain a bit. The way of the unreliable narrator is *very* appealing to me, yet tends to leave me angst ridden at the end. What was the truth? Andrew has it when he states that anything that Micah lies about could be true. Still, I want to read it again. And again.

  5. Rene on #

    Oh man, I had no idea the twist was coming. I nearly dropped the book right around page 170. Awesome.

    I’m with you, Stacy, I definitely require a reread. (After, however, I lend it to my sister!) Micah dropped some hints early on that pinged my radar as important, but that didn’t make sense until after the HOLY CRAP!!!!!11!! last chapter. I’m still not sure what I think “really” happened — I have at least three possibilities, and maybe more after I reread. And I like that it’s so ambiguous.

    And I’m amazed at how likable Micah is, even with all the lies.

  6. Tim Pratt on #

    I will boldly step forward with the truly spoilery: From the very beginning, when Micah told the story about being covered in fur, I thought, “Is this going to be a werewolf story? Nah, it can’t be — Justine said this was a work of psychological realism, not fantasy.” So I was doubly shocked when the werewolf thing came up explicitly later, and then I laughed my head off when the truth of *that* was thrown into question too. (Of course, in a sense, the truth of anything is always in question here — that’s one of the great things about this book.)

    I spent some time after I read it trying to enumerate possible “true” readings of the text, and the ending: Micah is a killer werewolf, Micah is a crazy murderer, Micah is institutionalized for unrelated reasons and just making up the whole story to pass the time, etc… but I soon decided that was a silly endeavor. If there is a “true” reading, I’d rather not know about it — rather more than half the magic here comes from the fluidity, the uncertainty, and the capital-M-Mystery of everything.

    And yet somehow, even though we can’t believe a word she says, Micah is a wonderfully compelling character.

  7. Eliza Evans on #

    I’m kind of in the camp that the only bit that I can truly believe is when she says that she’s being held down and has to take pills.

    Liar reminded me a lot of Catcher in the Rye, that way.

  8. Shaun Hutchinson on #

    I have to agree that the beauty of this book is that Justine has truly created a book for us. Meaning that many authors talk about how they don’t like to explain their books because they want the readers to interpret that any which way they want, there’s still a bit of finality to things. Like you’re not going to get to the end of Hunger Games and wonder what really happened. But here, this book, it really truly belongs to every person. I don’t think there will ever be a consensus on what actually happened because every single person is going to interpret that actual events of this book differently. Not just its meaning, but the actual physical events. In that respect, and in may others, this book is bloody brilliant.

    As the werewolf bits came out, I kept reading waiting for that to be a lie too. But really, this book is almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure. Depending on which things you believe and which you don’t, the possibilities are endless.

    Liar is definitely in the top three books I’ve read this year. And it’s been a good year for YA.

  9. Sarah Rees Brennan on #

    Oh look, at last somewhere I can spoil.

    I love Liar partly because I love a good murder mystery, and since there will never be a solution we all get to have our own.

    And as far as I’m concerned Zach’s a good murder victim – not likable enough that it breaks my heart he died. He did Micah and Sarah both wrong. Cheating on your girlfriend, messing around with messed-up girls, let being ripped apart be a lesson to YOU, young man.

    Then there’s the Night in Question. Could Zach have provoked Micah (or someone else) in some way? Did he mess her around one too many times? Did he leave her? Did he do something to hurt or scare her?

    And then there’s an alternate view of Micah as a victim and Zach as a hero: if Zach saw Micah’s crazy parents forcing her into a cage, and tried to help her, and Zach’s dead, Micah is lost, and the parents got off scot free…

    Liar is not just a choose your own adventure story, but in many ways the quintessential detective story. We’re the detectives. And when it comes to murder, you can never really be sure. Not beyond a shadow of a doubt. You can’t be there, at the murder scene. You can’t trust what anyone tells you. Even with Micah behind bars, we’ll never know anything for certain.

  10. Aja Romano on #

    I have been literally begging all my friends to read this book so that i could discuss it with them, so thank you, SO MUCH, for this thread.

    i’m really glad SRB (who, talk about spoilers, you should all go read The Demon’s Lexicon right now if you have not already) brought up the cage. That’s the main thing i really felt was a gateway into the truth of this story, whatever truth there can be. Liar is clearly a story about someone who is incredibly damaged psychologically and emotionally, and I kept thinking about the cage–how her parents had forced her into it, how they had tried to disguise it; how they seemed to keep placing her into situations where she felt her only option was to run away, and how strongly the theme of getting out of her environment at all costs seemed to pop up throughout the story. Beyond that telltale moment where she reveals the truth about being held in a secure facility and forced to take pills, I felt like the cage was the most revealing piece of information she gave us, quite possibly a metaphor she created to disguise a childhood so abusive she can’t even face the truth of it herself. Especially, her relationship with her mother seemed particularly closed-off somehow, overshadowed by the intense, volatile, conflicting feelings she has of her father. In the first paragraph of the book we learn that her mother doesn’t trust her father, and the distance between both father-mother and mother-daughter seems really important. Micah has tried to repress her own emotional need for affection from her parents in order to prevent them from hurting her, while her mother seems to have detached herself from any real responsibility for providing emotional care to her daughter–perhaps in order to shield herself from her husband’s lies and abusive behavior? Or perhaps because she, herself, is a victim of abuse and has had to shut down just like her daughter.

    I also, after a week of obsessing over this book!, am reading the “farm” as analogous to the secure facility (which is also probably located upstate), the grandmother/great-aunt as analogous to the doctor/nurses attempting to care for her, her uncle as another patient, one possibly muted or silenced by his/her own illness, and the “cousins” as patients who had adjusted to treatment and were going through their paces as part of the juvenile rehabilitation system.

    The werewolf thing: I literally turned the page halfway through the story thinking i was perched on top of this book’s pyramid of lies, and then suddenly everything just turned upside down. I actually felt jolted. I had *no* idea how to read Micah or which direction to pursue the narrative from that point on, it was just completely disconcerting (and AWESOME).

    I still, when I talk about this book, am not sure whether I should separate it from YA fantasy in terms of genre, because I think Micah’s being a werewolf is not only a way of obscuring the truth, but also a way for her to create a coming-of-age narrative for herself, at all costs. And that involves so much of what YA fantasy is about that I feel I can’t separate it from the genre.

    While I was reading Liar I kept thinking that I could never live with a character like Micah inhabiting my brain for such a long and intense period. I think trying to uncover the truth of her identity would actually drive me a little crazy!–not just because it is so difficult, but because it is so, so painful. But I’m so glad you did, because I’m extremely grateful that Liar exists. I think it is brilliantly written, and one of the most compelling portraits of a troubled teenager that I’ve ever read.

  11. Laurie on #

    I’d like to think Micah was really a werewolf, but I’m desperate for magic in everything. On the other hand, the interpretation of “upstate” being a mental facility makes entirely too much sense. It’s easy to interpret this as “Micah has a severe mental illness and her parents were ashamed of this and did horrible things to her to try and keep it a secret”.

    One thing I really loved about the book, whichever interpretation you take, is the constant, repeating themes of autonomy and the loss thereof – the loss of control over one’s body, over one’s environment, over one’s entire life, and the struggle to regain it. It was very poignant and really worked.

    I do have something I really want to know, though – do you, as the author, know what really happened, or is it up for debate in your own mind as well? I am not asking what happened, mind. Just whether you know. ;)

  12. Alyce on #

    It’s so good to read everyone else’s take on events! I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there won’t be any final consensus, but actually that’s brilliant.

    The one aspect that has been running through my mind for the last week is Micah’s omission. We’re told that during the trial, reporters hover around outside the school following Micah, Sarah and Tayshawn. Is this true (or more accurately, how true is it?) and if so, whos trial is it? If Zach did appear to be killed by dogs there wouldnt be a trial. If the trial did occur then you would assume that one of the three main characters would be on trial (although it is only on Micah’s say so that we assume they are main suspects)and if they were on trial they wouldnt be going to school every day.

    I suppose that one small section served as a microcosm of all my interactions with Micah – at first everything seems fine and reasonable but the more you think about it the more you wonder and at the end of the day you’re not quite sure what to believe.

    Made me think more than any book Ive read in ages.

  13. Alyce on #

    Also, have you seen Horn Books latest status update? Seems like a bit of passive-agressive snark headed in your direction!

  14. Emmy on #

    Is the Horn Book review online anywhere? If so, can someone please post a link?

  15. Pam on #

    I’m not reading any comments above mine. I’m not, I’m not. I just bought my copy of Liar with its melted Aussie cover. Can’t wait to read it, then the reviews, then other people’s comments.

  16. Thomas on #

    Oh man, you guys. This thread is the best thing ever.

    I was so excited to post here but reading all the comments have given me so much more to think about.

    My only real thought is that there’s definitely something going on with the trial we’re not being told about. Otherwise Micah wouldn’t mention it at all. But what? It’s possible she ended up in a jail cell or asylum (if she pleaded insanity) instead of in an apartment–after all, she lies to make the world better.

    I am definitely going to have to reread this.

  17. Angie on #

    The trial bit is the part that’s sticking with me. I can buy that she’s nuts, and that the “pills” are antipsychotics, and that “upstate” is a mental institution – the bit where she figures she’s going to take the wolf-boy up there, and then her parents leave her and there’s a bag packed convinced me that she came home raving about the wolf-boy and thinking he was there, and they packed her up and dropped her off, maybe while “playing along”?

    But the trial bit gets me. I guess it depends on how much of everything you believe. If Micah and Tayshawn and Sarah were at school during the times she says they were, then maybe he was just killed by some random lunatic, and that person was on trial? But why so much attention to the school kids?

    I want to think that Micah did it but I can’t make everything fit together in a way that makes sense, unless she’s making up large swathes of things from nowhere, and I do believe that Micah’s lies/psychosis is at least somewhat based on real events.

    But I don’t know, I really don’t. I’m anxiously awaiting my husband reading it so that I can discuss it with him.

  18. Shveta on #

    I love all these comments, and I love that I don’t know what happened. This is odd, as I usually like a bit more finality. But as others have said, that’s what makes the book work. Also, Justine, I know you’re not weighing in here, but I have to say, you did an excellent job with Micah’s character. I know she didn’t reach everyone, but I really felt for her, lies and all.

    And I loved the werewolf twist! I so did not see that coming, but looking back, it’s all set up to work that way–if, indeed, it’s not another lie.

    The trial–does anyone think Micah actually killed Yayeko and family? Or that it was a trial for killing Zach? Or anything else? Or just another lie?

  19. Thomas on #

    I feel like there was definitely a trial… and I feel like it’s true when she says Yayeko visits her often, so she didn’t kill Yayeko… but I find it hard to beleive that Yayeko saying “Micah” over and over could stop wolf-Micah from attacking. So I’m not sure if she killed them or not, I guess.

    My feeling is that the trial was for Zach, just because she mentioned Sarah and Tayshawn and the press, etc.

    I kind of feel like maybe Micah isn’t crazy or anything, and the pills are actually birth control pills and the farm upstate is actually a farm upstate and she is actually a werewolf, and the only major lie left at the end is that she’s at college studying biology from a tiny apartment, when really she’s in jail or in an insitution somewhere (although I won’t deny the possibility that the pills are antipsychotics–it would definitely fit).

    Ahh, so much to think about.

  20. Megan on #

    Oh man, this is definitely one of those books I’m going to have to read twice or thrice or maybe ten times just to pick up on all the inconsistencies in Micah’s story. But I loved every minute of it, and never saw the twist coming! (Though I really should have…I think I was distracted by theories like, well, perhaps she’s a mutant a la Marvel’s X-Men.) My favorite element is that the idea of Micah’s being a werewolf was presented (by her) as being a result of science rather than a supernatural element. Personally I find werewolves far more interesting than vampires – or most other supernatural creatures, for that matter – but there really aren’t many good werewolf novels that are JUST about werewolves; too many of them involve some kind of feud with vampires, which I’m quite frankly sick of. So thank you, Justine, for thinking outside of the box and letting Micah play with my mind.

  21. Eric on #

    What a remarkably twisty book! My head hurts.

    After reading it, I suspect that Micah’s little brother is key to some of her lies. Did he ever exist? What really happened to him? Why did Micah hate him so much from the very beginning? What role did he play in the relationship between Micah and her parents?

    Combine this mystery with the trial that Angie mentioned, and there’s clearly a whole new level of lies that never get resolved.

    I can think of 3 major possibilities:

    1) The final version of Micah’s story is mostly true. She’s a werewolf, she didn’t kill Zach, and maybe she even lived happily ever after (sort of).

    2) Micah killed Zach (and possibly her little brother, too), and the werewolf story is a product of her deranged imagination. This is the really dark version of the book, and it’s right up there with some of the creepiest stuff in Poe.

    3) Micah killed Zach, but she’s actually telling the truth about the werewolf thing.

    If Micah is lying about being a werewolf, it’s her more sophisticated lie, because she carefully set it up in the first part of the book by dropping hints while she was telling her other lies. Are any of her other lies that subtle?

    Clearly, I’m going to have to re-read this book a couple of times, and try to collect evidence for and against different versions of the story.

  22. Karen Strong on #

    Every time I’ve settled on what I think, I change my mind. I definitely going to have to read this book again.

    Maybe I’m a little slow, but I NEVER saw the werewolf thing coming. So when I was reading Part 2, I was like, WT…anyway, I have to say that it intrigued me very much. Now, I’m like, “Is Micah lying about THIS?” and I’m like, “YES!” Then, I keep reading and I’m thinking, “Damn. Maybe she IS a werewolf.” Then I read some more, “No, she’s lying…” LOL.

    So, there are so many things to think about…but I do remember how she kept saying that werewolves don’t kill people but we already know that Sam “supposedly” killed Zach—so isn’t that a contradiction?

    And I wondered how Micah got back to NYC to see Yayeko? I mean, did her non-werewolf Uncle take her to the train station? She didn’t have any money. How did she get back?

    LOTS of questions!

    Yeah, I’m going to have to read this again and see what I come up with.

    Really have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments!

    I agree with most of ya’ll about the end. College? I don’t think she’s in college. At least right at this moment. That could change once I post this comment, LOL.

  23. Rosemoo on #

    I loved loved loved this book!

    And it’s REALLY hard not to have anyone to talk to about it. I’m selling it as hard as I can in the bookstore without being able to tell a HUGE part of why I love it so much.

    But as much as I love things like Buffy, and I love Werewolves, I was in love with the book all through the (very non-supernatural) part one. I didn’t need the werewolf idea to fall hard for Micah. She’s so hurt, and so needy, and yet so calm and collected. She completely convinced me to love her. I was right with her from the beginning, even though I knew she was a liar from the get-go. I believed everything she told me, even as she revised entire sections of the book.

    I didn’t know I could love a ‘bad-girl’ character as much as I love the stereotypical ‘bad-guy’. I mean, I loved Faith in Buffy, but not nearly as much as I love Micah. Maybe because Faith was largely originally a construct to act as a foil to Buffy, and Micah stands on her own.

    Of course, I went with the whole Werewolf thing as soon as it came up, and it made me fall in love with the book all over again. I’m a sucker for Werewolves. I think they’re largely underappreciated.

    One thing that threw me (and that I’ve wanted to talk to someone about) is as soon as we met the other werewolf I was convinced he was evil and going to pull one of those ‘I am the werewolf who you are destined for and killed my competition so I could have you for myself’ trope. And when it had NOTHING to do with that I fell in love with the book again.

    I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s my first favorite book in the store.

  24. Dave H on #

    My wife (Angie in the comments above) made me wake her up at 2 am when I finished the book so that we could discuss it. She’s never done that before. Between us, we’ve come up with about 27 theories about the “real” truth, and a reason why each of them can’t possibly be right.

    My current theory is that she wrote the whole thing in Bellevue, having been convicted for killing Yayeko’s family when she went off her meds. I think she spared Yayeko, who got through to her. She also stalked Zach after he spurned her advances, and eventually killed him.

    Of course, by morning, I’ll probably have changed my mind again. And that’s the beauty of the thing. Thanks to Micah’s lies, the truth can be whatever we want it to be.

  25. Tasha on #

    I like the idea of her stalking and killing Zach for spurning her. But I believe more that they were friends, and did run together, but were not dating. She was just secretly in love with him in her head. I also sort of believe that she saw him get killed, and the first part of the book is her in shock and trying to hide what she saw from herself, and it drives her insane. I really really really don’t want to believe that she killed anyone. Though I can see accidentally killing her brother, if they were both young, and she just wasn’t watching him properly or something.

  26. ariel cooke on #

    I loved this book! For one thing, don’t we all feel like werewolves when we get our periods? Loved that part. I will have to re-read it several times before I fully understand it.

  27. Rebecca (allreb) on #

    I just finished the book last night. I definitely did not guess the werewolf thing ahead of time but there were enough small hints that pinged me that it made sense when I reached that reveal. And lots of things on this thread have given me interesting things to consider on rereads; I wondered, if she was in an institution and was not a wolf, what upstate was (or if it was real at all), and the idea that that is the institution makes sense to me, definitely.

    But there were a few random things that have given me an off-the-wall, barely-textually-supported theory about another way it could have happened (or some of it, anyway). The first thing that really pinged me as Super Important were the birth control pills, and the terror of missing one, and how very, very, very angry her parents were about her making out with a boy, let alone having sex. Then, near the end, she says something about needing the pills to keep her body under her control (I can’t look up the the text at the moment, my best friend is reading my copy of the book and if I try to take it away from her I suspect she’ll bite my hand), but in a really desperate way. Something bad has happened with her boyfriend. And she was kicked out of home.

    To me, those elements all floating around in my brain, spelled: what if Micah was pregnant? She missed her pill and it happened by accident. She freaked out — maybe it lead to some sort of confrontation with Zach that ended in murder, intentionally or not? When her parents found out, possibly they wanted her to keep the baby and she didn’t (or the other way around), and that was her desperation to keep her body under control. And then either she ran away or her parents kicked her out.

    (Or maybe it really wasn’t her who killed Zach; when her parents found out, maybe one of them confronted him and it escalated?)

    Obviously there’s way more happening in the book than that; it doesn’t explain the trial, or upstate and Pete, or Jordan, or anything like that, but I also can’t shake the idea entirely.

  28. Rebecca (allreb) on #

    OOH, OR! The comment above that she saw Zach’s death and it drove her a bit insane. What if she had killed Jordan accidentally when she was younger, and then after seeing Zach’s death she lost it a little bit and invented Pete as a sort of link between the two. We don’t know what his age is, but he’s a few years younger than she is — maybe roughly the same age as Jordan? And he acts younger — maybe the age Jordan was before he died? The two being linked in her mind could really do some mental damage. (If she was responsible for Jordan’s death, even as an accident, and has that link between the two, what if she feels responsible for Zach’s death — which we see in her revelation that her change caused Pete to change, and he then killed Zach — but didn’t actually do it? She isn’t trying to convince us that she didn’t, she’s trying to convince herself of that, but she doesn’t even believe it.)

    BTW, sitting next to my friend as she gets closer and closer to the end is super fun. She keeps yelling, “What?!!!” and demanding I explain things. Which, of course, I won’t. :D

  29. Marrije on #

    I just finished the book. And now my head hurts. I have to read it all again to try & make up my mind about what happens. I’m not in favour of the Bellevue theory at the moment, I’m more of a true werewolf believer. But what about Jordan? And what happens to the teacher and her family? So much confusion. Also, this book reminds me quite a lot of “We need to talk about Kevin”, and that worries me quite a lot. Sigh. thinkety-think…

  30. Serafina Zane on #

    Oh man. Finished Liar last week, but just got around to the spoiler thread here–so many interesting theories. I, for one, was suspecting the werewolf thing for quite a while before the reveal—in a vague, this is fun conspiracy I don’t expect it to happen sort of way—so I may have actually cheered when she said that. It was the hearing thing, actually, that made me suspect that the most, more than the hair or anything, but there were definitely a lot of clues, looking back. I kept expecting her to say that was a lie, though, but I kind of liked that she never did.

    Honestly, though, with regards to the ending and the rest of the events, I really haven’t decided what my theory is. I can see a bunch of different ways it could have gone—werewolf, not a werewolf, killed Zach, didn’t kill Zach, killed Jordan, didn’t kill Jordan, made up Jordan, any combination of having killed Zach or Jordan or both or neither, in jail, in college, in an institution, et, ect, ect. But I’m not sure which one I personally believe. It’s definitely fun to theorize, and there’s definitely support for any of a variety of theories…very interesting indeed.
    I do like to think Micah is actually a werewolf, though, but I like to think that about a lot of people.

  31. Aja on #

    i am just returning to read more comments on this post, and add more thoughts of my own:

    - Someone above commented, “My favorite element is that the idea of Micah’s being a werewolf was presented (by her) as being a result of science rather than a supernatural element.”

    actually, the more I think about this, I think that maybe the werewolfism, and the fact that it’s brought about by science, is a clue into the psychology of the book. Maybe the werewolfism is a result of all the pills Micah has had to take since pre-adolescence. Maybe the science that provides psychotropic medication for children is the same science that has engineered her behavior so completely that it has literally created a monster.

    - The boy Micah keeps seeing in the park – I feel sure that he is a double for Micah’s brother. i have NO IDEA what that means, but I think it’s pretty vital, especially since we have no way of knowing when “Jordan” disappeared in relationship to when “Pete” appeared. If either of them were ever there to begin with.

    - another theory: what if the person stroking Micah’s hair at the climax and saying her name over and over again is not Yayeko, but Micah’s mother? I say that because it’s the most intimate contact that Micah has with anyone throughout the book, and it strikes me as strange, suddenly, that it comes at that moment, from a potential murder victim, and/or from a teacher who would not normally ever get that close to a student. Yayeko seems to be a double for Micah’s mother and seems more omni-present in her life than Micah’s mother, who is distant and removed and not-really that much of a presence in this book. What if Yayeko is Micah’s mother, or if, perhaps, the lines between mother and teacher have been deliberately blurred in order to create a nurturing environment that protects her from reality?

    - I keep coming back to the idea of this book as a metaphor for modern urban life, and I almost feel like maybe we’re being “lied” to by the narrative structure itself; we are told about the murder in the very beginning; it’s the werewolf theory that takes us by surprise. But what if the murder is, itself, a metaphor? Micah’s most chilling moment of truth, I think, is the confession about being forced to take meds, and I can’t help feeling like that provides the foundation for understanding where the rest of the book’s themes are coming from: behavioral change, advances in science that change us against our will or control, unfamiliarity with oneself, the sense of being forced to live dual identities, all the doubling that runs throughout the book.

    What if Zach is another double for Micah herself–his athleticism, his popularity, his long-standing relationships with his girlfriend/best friend, his successful ability to juggle and integrate all the different parts of his life? Micah is a person who appears to be crowded out of an identity by a number of factors and who expresses gender, identity, and sexual confusion, along with extreme introversion. What if Zach, a self-confident, athletic male extrovert, is a representation of who Micah wants to be, an inner, dream self? What if the murder of Zach is in and of itself a metaphor for the destruction of Micah’s inner identity or “true” self?

  32. Micole on #

    I’m a little disturbed by how easily readers go to the narrative of unrequited female desire (i.e., “Micah wanted Zach and never really had him”); yes, the narrator is unreliable, but there are a few things that Micah never changes (that she’s biracial, that she had some sort of relationship with Zach, that she is attracted to both Sarah and Tayshawn) and I feel like that reading comes more out of our social assumptions about female desire, female jealousy, and female attractiveness than out of the text.

    Anyway, one of the big questions of the book for me is “Who is the implied audience?” Not Justine’s audience, which is the reader; but Micah’s audience, the “you” whom at first seems to be a narrative convenience, but later on seems increasingly specific. I’m inclined to think that it’s a therapist or psychiatrist — she says she’s lied often to therapists and psychiatrists, and they always believe her — although it doesn’t answer any other questions for me. I mean, in addition to the narratives people have suggested above, there’s also: Micah really is a werewolf; she didn’t kill Yayeko but drew the attention of authorities by proving that she was a werewolf; she’s been taken into custody and is being experimented on (thus the pills and the restraints). I don’t particularly favor that one, though.

    Something else I’d like to throw out there: there are three people in Yayeko’s apartment; there are or were three people in Micah’s family. How sure are we that Yayeko’s apartment and the people in it really exist?

  33. Lila on #

    Hmm, I guess I’m going to disagree with what some others said. I didn’t find it at all surprising that Micah said she was a werewolf. I was unspoiled, and now that I’m finished I don’t think spoilers would really have affected my appreciation of the book. As for what “really happened”, well, it’s a work of fiction. There’s no “really”. Especially since the author intended more than one interpretation to be viable. In a case like that, I don’t bother trying to figure out which interpretation is more believable. I don’t really even have a personal preference for a particular interpretation. But it’s fun trying to pick out themes that might be present regardless of which interpretation you choose. Anyhow, in general I find this author’s books to be very engrossing while I’m reading them, and once I’m done I feel… somewhat above average about them. I mean, I pretty much like them. Same goes for this one.

  34. Jessica on #

    I am so glad I wasn’t spoiled for this book, because although I did think “werewolf” pretty much immediately, I really didn’t expect to turn page 169 and find Micah avowing that she was one. Also, I LOVED that before page 169, you have a coherent story–just one–and then bam! the “corrections” and “clarifications” start flying faster and faster, until there are several stories just piling over each other.

    I don’t really have any one theory that I like better. There are two slips, or statements, that Micah makes, and the fact they are glossed over is either in their favor, or means they are the most obvious lies–the statements she makes about the pills and being strapped down, for one, and the trial for two.

    But even then, I WANT to believe Micah, that she’s a werewolf, and that she didn’t kill anyone on purpose. (I did see the reveal about Jordan coming, oddly. Maybe because I have a little brother? J/K)

    I have to read this book again.

  35. mb on #

    I’m with Lila — the werewolf thing didn’t surprise me. I caught a lot of the “slips”, too, so the many retractions also didn’t surprise me. But I’m not sure it has to be about the surprise.

    My favorite thing is the way Micah keeps reminding us that fiction is also lying, that politeness can be lying, that a lot of daily living and surviving in the world is lying. It leaves open the possibility that Micah is the most honest person in the story, because her lies aren’t pretending to be something else.

  36. Ariel on #

    While I was reading the story, I kept being reminded of He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not, a French film starring Audrey Tautou. Have any of you seen it? I want to talk about it in relation to the book but I don’t want to spoil the movie!!

    My most current theory is that there really is a “family illness”, but that it isn’t being a werewolf, it’s having a serious psychiatric illness, like schizophrenia. If I remember my freshman psych correctly, many people have their first psychotic break around puberty…much like Micah’s first manifestation. The farm upstate could really be a farm upstate where her family has segregated themselves to hide the illness…or convinced themselves that it is really a gift. But who knows?

    Oh! This just came to me, but what if Micah and Jordan are somehow the same person? As in, she “killed” him when she started having violent episodes? That would tie in with the having a “boy name”, pretending she was born a boy, all that stuff.

  37. Jacob on #

    What page is the part where Micah talks about pills and being strapped down on? Because I don’t remember that.

  38. Summer on #

    Wow, I’m gonna have to re-read before I start theorizing!

  39. Summer on #

    Jacob:

    The first time is on page 232.

  40. Jenny on #

    It’s been touched on a little in previous comments, but I’m not sure Pete (the white boy) really exists. He came completely out of nowhere, he runs like her, he “smells like enemy.” (page 296) The first conversation Micah has with him, he says, “You’re the same as me…You’re just me.” (page 304) Perhaps he’s slow, like Micah says he is, and means “you’re just like me,” but I think perhaps Micah created him to represent the part of herself she hates, maybe even the part of herself that really did kill Zach.

  41. Kate Marshall on #

    I just finished Liar about two minutes ago, then read through this thread quickly. I think I don’t have anything new to contribute, in terms of the theories presented. I enjoy reading through the possibilities, seeing the support for them, but I don’t feel any pressure to figure out what actually happened.

    Because all of it actually happened. Or none of it did. It’s a flowing, changing narrative, and it has at least dozens of different meanings and interpretations. Most of them are lies, and just as many of them are true. I like that there isn’t an answer. It’s just as powerful if Micah is a werewolf, using prison/institution metaphors to grapple with what is happening to her, as it would be if she were a traumatized, possibly mentally ill girl who has constructed a story of herself as a werewolf to deal with that.

    But I do think it’s valuable to spin theories. I don’t think any of them could ever be right (or wrong), but each one adds a new layer to the story.

  42. Caitlin on #

    Really interesting comments from everybody in this thread! Thanks to Justine for writing such a fascinating book and then giving us a nice post to talk about it amongst ourselves!

    I have a lot of thoughts about the book that I haven’t quite worked out, so I don’t want to comment on the plot directly. I do want to say why I think it’s important that the book not be spoiled. It’s not a matter of whether the reader should be surprised or not. In the course of spoiling (or reviewing or summarizing), the spoil-er tells the plot as they read it to the spoil-ee. If you were told that Liar was a werewolf story or even just told it was a fantasy story, you might be more inclined to believe Micah’s werewolf story. I could tell a friend who hasn’t read it that it’s the story of a girl I’m convinced is in a mental institution – so she, depending on my greater knowledge of the story, might read it as though it was a story written by a girl in a mental institution (even though that’s in no way been established as fact.) What you know going in shapes how you organize the story in your head as you read – the expected v. the unexpected, the believed v. the unbelieved, what’s happened v. what usually happens in stories of whatever genre you were told Liar was – and ultimately the plot overall changes.

    This applies to all stories because the experience of reading is so subjective – a book like Liar, where the subjectivity of the narrative is obvious, highlights the subjectivity of any narrative. All narrators are Micahs and all stories are lies. Knowing the details of what a story is supposed to be can get in the way of seeing what a story is. Of course, summaries etc are so commonly read before a book that I’m not arguing against anything here. But when was the last time any of us read a story knowing nothing about what happened in it or who the writer was? It’s an interesting thing to consider.

  43. Jaya Lakshmi on #

    Maybe I’m just a romantic optimist, but I’d rather go with Micah’s interpretation of events. She may not be completely reliable, but the novel would be too grim if she were locked up in an institution.

    We don’t know who Micah’s audience is, but assuming that it is US (the reader), let’s assume that she’s trying to tell the truth. She details the parts about werewolves, which adds credibility to her story. Also, if we assume that at the beginning she promises to tell no more lies, the whole thing about being born with fur would be true.

    The trial could be her parents arrested on charges of child abuse. After all, there’s the cage, never taking her to doctors, giving her birth control pills from her mother’s prescription, and abandoning her at her grandparents’ place without telling her and pulling her out of school.

  44. Darcy on #

    To bring up a whole different kind of narrative than most people have been talking about:

    To me, all the lies about gender and being intersexed seemed really important. Her story would really make sense as someone struggling with gender identity or something similar, but maybe unable to deal with it directly. Coming up with a narrative about being a werewolf could be a really good way to cope with feeling like a ‘freak,’ as she so often called herself, and a confusion about ‘what’ she fundamentally is. Then there was Yayeko, who seemed like the last person to try really get through to her, trying to tell her that she should be happy to be a girl.

    For example, what if she wasn’t initially lying when she pretended to be a boy? Say that she had been born intersexed, but everyone thought she was a boy. Hence the name ‘Micah.’ What if SHE WAS Jordan until she hit puberty– she got her period, metaphorically killing him? (That could make her feel uncertain about whether her parents loved her). So when she got to high school, she was still acting like a boy out of habit or comfort, until her own body betrayed her when she laughed.

    It would be a realistic narrative, accounting for the pills and interventions and attempts to change her, that makes sense without her necessarily being insane. Because I don’t really want her to be insane and a killer–that would be a degree of darkness in her psyche that I almost feel is the most reductive possibility, as fascinating as it still would be.

    I’m not sure how this works in to the whole murder story–though her desire to tell Zach the truth in some way might–but I think that it works in well with the werewolf story. And it explains a lot about why she feels she was raised lying. Maybe the murder lies and the identity lies are not inherently intertwined, except by her reactions.

  45. Megan on #

    This book was probably one of the most compelling, annoying, and abusive pieces of literature that I was ever to read.

    At first when I read the ending, I was horror struck. I was so angry at such and ending, leaving me to decide weather this compulsive liar, who I have strangely come to love, was telling me the truth or again fibbing. I was angry, as if I was the only one she was lying to, as if she personally wanted to make me go insane.

    Now I’ll admit, I’m a no-it-all wanna be and I felt the need to decipher this book and decode it until I found out the truth. I googled it and read various blogs and reviews, and then I fell upon this one. After reading many of the posts on this thread, I began to further look into the idea the Micha is indeed clinically mental and that she is not really a wolf at all, rather a troubled teen. I began to believe that maybe what the posts were saying is true. Micha may not be lying however, perhaps she is using being a wolf as some sort of analogy in her life. The cage, a symblic prison brought on her by her parents that she will never escape of. The farm as the mental hospital that which she retreats to and is unsure if she belongs there or not, her cousins being fellow juvineile pacients, her great aunt and grandmother doctors, her uncle, a paciet who has completley lost metal capabilities, Yoyeko, possible being a shirk? And maybe, her birth controls being pills she takes in order to keep her mental sanity?

    And then I wondered, did Justine Lebarber think all of this up, metophorically? Did she plot and plan out this novel to be symbolically so much more than Micha was telling us? Did she purposfully create such a story, thus, not lying herself but symbolically speaking? Maybe Micha never lies, maybe she simply alsways speaks in metaphor. So I wonder If Justine wrote this in this way, or maybe, she smiply wrote a story involving a lying warewolf and leaves it up to us to decide. I wonder if maybe Justine was testing the faith in humaity- how much will the cynical, untrusting person of today’s society believe a compulsive lier, even after learning to love her?

    Maybe Justing is testing us. Maybe she wants us to trust. Maybe I do.

    I want to trust Micha, don’t get me wrong. Everything she says I want to whole heartedly believe. I want to think of Micha going to a nice school and living a fuffiling life. And I think that if thats what Justine wanted us to believe, she would have not have written such an ending, estranging our minds in such a complex way.

    And i have met Justine myself (pardon me for refering to her in only the first name, I simply can’t spell the last name) and she seems like a pretty trustworthy, stand up kind of women. I have persoanlly shacken her hand and talked to her, one on one, before reading the novel and I wonder, could this person have decived me so?

    There are so many unanswered questions in this book, so mnay holes (like how Micha returned to the city with no money or routes of transoptation) that would prove Micha to be fabricating her life. But then i think of Justine and wonder, is she a lier?

    In the end, I do not know If i trust Micha or not. But I better figure it out soon seeing as I have to write a paper on it for my high school english exam (it’s my choosen independant novel!)

    Comment if you choose :)

  46. Colin on #

    I reread the part where she announces her werewolfdom several times just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks. I love how she was like “You guessed it, didn’t you?” and I was like “No, actually… Not at all!”

  47. April on #

    There’s tons of possibilities for the ending of Liar, but only two seem obvious:

    1. Micha really is a warewolf. I tend not to believe this, because- dispite all of the convincing detalis Micha gives- this seems like a stretch.

    2. Micha is mentally ill. Her ‘birth control’ pills are really medication, which is why they are so important, and why she didn’t take it any time someone was killed (like she forgot her pill around the time Zach was murdered, and didn’t ake it the day her teacher’s family died). This makes more sense to me, but the book is fantastic any way you interpret it. :)

  48. Pam Adams on #

    Just got it, just read it, and at first read, I was going with the werewolf theory. I’ve been reading SF/fantasy forever, so it seems like a perfectly logical solution. Now that I’ve read some other ideas, I will have to re-read, looking for those other truths.

  49. Za on #

    Liar is so excellent I could easily read it a bajillion times in a row, but unfortunately there’s a waiting list of friends who want to read it after me.

    Micah is complex. I don’t think she’s entirely right in the head. She lies to much, but without reason. She says there are lots of theories from psychiatrists and the like as to why she lies, and she even implies she lies because the world is better her way, but we have no definitive answer.

    When I got to the werewolf bit I almost put the book down. Like, “No way, that’s going too far Justine, you can stretch the lying to breaking point but this one is so not believable”. But I persevered! Hurrah! And once I though to myself, “Maybe this book is allowed to have a fantasy element even though part one didn’t have that element”, it was much easier to read and I was engrossed.

    The most interesting thing about this book is knowing that the entire story, from beginning to end, could be a lie. Micah could in fact just be a writer, not a liar, and she, like Justine, is just writing a story, not her story exactly, just her story modified to be interesting, or in fact somebody else’s story entirely, and she’s posing it to be her’s, in which case she would be a liar. Confused? You should be.

    Love it.

  50. Shannon on #

    Wow.

    I read that book in one night. It enthralled me from the first page- the whole idea of an unreliable narrator, one who could LIE, was just such a weird and wonderful idea. The whole thing was the craziest, wildest, most beautiful piece of writing I’ve read. At the end, my interpretation was that Micah was severely insane, that “upstate” was a mental facility, and that her parents were incredibly abusive towards her. I’m not so sure about the werewolf thing (which completely shocked me) but I think she might have made that up to make herself feel more invincible. Honestly, I think she made up even having a relationship with Zach. She probably admired him from afar, but really had no affiliation with him. Or she could have stalked him. I’ve considered that too. And wow, that thing about her brother, I STILL have no idea what that was about! Is he alive? Did she kill him? Did he even exist? The whole thing is, all of my assumptions could be wrong. Which just makes the book even more intriguing.

  51. Nerd Goddess on #

    Something that I thought about was the possibility that the “wolf-boy” (I really can’t remember his name) is an the werewolf side of Micah that she’s afraid of. After all, he’s white, like the side of the family the werewolf part comes from, and he’s untamed and wild. It makes me wonder if she made him up to separate that part of herself even further than the rest of her. And in that case, is she admitting to killing Zach?

  52. cories on #

    Just finished the book. At first, I bought the whole born-furry idea since premies can have fine hair all over, but I did wonder about whether this was going to be a werewolf story before page 171. Still, given that Micah is a liar, I’m more inclined to think that she’s in an institution somewhere regardless of whether she killed anyone (although I could accept that she killed her little brother Jordan – since so many of us first-born children are hard on our little brothers).

    This book reminds me both of an episode of “Star Trek” in which Kirk and Spock fry the CPUs of a race of androids in “I, Mudd” by using the liar’s paradox and Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” in which there is the unreliable narrator. I think I may tell my friends that this is a story of a lying narrator who may or may not be a werewolf. That about covers the whole thing.

  53. Bahnree on #

    I just finished reading this book. All of these comments are very interesting and helpful! I agree that the story is pretty much whatever we personally want to believe.

    The main thing I’m still wrestling with is the “punishing inconstant heart” thing. No matter which way I look at it, Micah MUST have been telling the truth about that being in Zach’s book…did she write it?? Did Sarah? Micah mentions later that Zach’s heart was never as constant as her own. This, more than anything, makes me think Micah killed Zach.

    But, ARGH! I don’t want to believe that! XD

  54. Linda Frasier on #

    I just read it through a second time, and I’d forgotten how it ended. I’d let her off the hook in my mind for all but Jordan.

    Justine, have you been reading Ishiguro? I haven’t felt this chilled since I read A Pale View of Hills. This goes way beyond The Life of Pi. An unreliable narrator is a terrible thing to try to unravel.

    So, now I’m wondering what’s at the farm. A hospital? I do believe her parents left her somewhere.

    But the wolf interpretation does work. Mostly. I think disassociation works better at the moment, anyway. In a few weeks, I may be back to believing in the wolf.

  55. Linda Frasier on #

    Ooh, I just read Darcy’s comment more carefully, and it never occurred to me that she could have been Jordan. I like it! Or transgender or intersexed. I guess I didn’t believe any of that could have been true, since she told people that at school.

    How much of what happened at school could have been completely false? This is beginning to remind me of thinking about Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World and trying to piece together an interpretation that fits the text.

  56. rockinlibrarian on #

    Good to read other people’s reactions: it had been bugging me that I couldn’t find a non-werewolf explanation for The Farm, as I was sure there must be at least two ways to look at every detail of the story, but it makes sense for it to be some sort of mental institution. The FUNNY farm, right. I find like a few people above that I don’t care what story is really true, I just like how all the possibilities fit together!

    I think it’s interesting how many people refer to “the twist.” WHAT twist? The whole THING is twists! Especially by the time you get to part three! I also think it’s interesting when people wonder what genre it is. Like CAitlin (comment 44) said, defining it by genre limits your reading of it. This is a book that transcends genre! It belongs in the genre “genre-transcending!” …and is probably unique in that the supernatural explanation for events is actually WAY LESS SCARY than the non-supernatural explanation!

    Seriously. I thought the last two pages were by far the scariest pages in the book!

  57. Nelle on #

    Wow- what inventive creatures people are to come up with so many different explanations- reminds me of the way that we humans constantly struggle in vain to explain life and find actual meaning for it. Maybe I’ve oversimplified Liar but I saw it in terms of the teenage struggle- maybe any age struggle, and much of what happens seems to me to be a symbol and/or metaphor for the trials of life. The warewolf thing I saw as possibly severe PMT and debilitating periods that many women suffer and the upstate connection as the opposite to the urban context- send her up to the country rellies to sort her out and settle her down. Micah is an ultra sensitive, exceptionally intelligent, ungirlie girl struggling to find her niche. I don’t see her as a pathological liar, just a unique young woman trying out endless “truths”. Rather than seeing her condemned to an asylum, at the end I see some resolution where she has learnt how to play the game to be able to live a less contentious life. I’m probably a much older reader to previous contributors- this book triggered so much discussion with the people in my book club- absolutely no consensus.

  58. Tricia Sullivan on #

    This thread is awesome! I loved reading everybody’s ideas.

    It occurs to me that the diversity of angles of interpretation of this text are testimony to its effectiveness. Talk about a book that makes you think!

    I read it yesterday pretty much in one gulp. It’s disturbing and stays on the skin, sort of fizzing and popping and making suspicious noises.

    My immediate reaction is that it’s a book about the storytelling function. How we leap the gaps nature throws at us and build crazy-beautiful bridges and take up residence there. How the wild individual can live in the interstices of these impossible cities we collectively build.

    And the moment I look at those sentences I have written, I see that they describe WHAT I WANT THE BOOK TO BE.

    So, the way I see it is that this book is a little bomb that’s determined to explode who I think I am. It’s literally a magical book.

    Also? It’s making me think about the tyranny of the left brain.

    I can’t say I loved it because it was too unsettling to ‘love’. It made me cringe and shudder.

  59. Michelle on #

    I’m writing about this book and my topic is One of the strongest human drives seems to be a desire for power. write an essay in which you discuss how a character in a novel, “Liar” struggles to free him/herself from the power of other or seeks to gain power over other. be sure to demonstrate in your essay how the author uses this power to struggle to enhance the meaning of work

    help??

  60. Linda Frasier on #

    Okay, new theory, guys.

    She never says whose trial. She says she’s in college, and her teacher visits. Let’s take that at face value.

    Maybe her father is the problem. Maybe he killed the boyfriend and had the trial. That hangs together regardless of whether she’s a werewolf or not. Keeping her in a cage doesn’t look good.

  61. Linda Frasier on #

    For Michelle:

    Any life is a story that can be told many ways. If you tell about an incident in your life now, it will be different than in ten years. The story has a different meaning to you, and you’ll highlight certain events that fit in with this new analysis.

    There’s a Terry Pratchett book that has a section about The Emperor’s New Clothes. It could be about the kid who got a hiding for mouthing off to royalty if it continues on a bit.

    Anyway, Micah certainly understands the power of story. She tries on identities like outfits. She can be whoever she wants as far as people she doesn’t care about are concerned. The important story is one she tells herself, which I think she is trying to do here. She needs to come up with a story she can live with.

    See where those ideas get you.

  62. Aja on #

    There’s a theory I’ve been waiting to see espoused here for months that I haven’t seen yet, and I am just throwing it out here because I think it’s fascinating. I can’t claim credit for it–it arose out of the Liar fanfic that I requested for the 2009 Yuletide challenge. If anybody wants to read it, it’s Micah/Sarah, it’s called, “You Think You Know,” and it’s amazing, but I’m not linking directly because it potentially features adult content.

    Anyway, the author of the fic really pulled out and expanded on the doppelganger qualities between Micah and Sarah, and ever since I read it, I’ve been pondering: what if Micah is Sarah? It would slot a lot of things into place about her gender anxiety and her relationship with Zach, and it would add so much nuance to the scenes where she’s dealing with her attraction to and readings of Sarah. I’m fascinated by the possibilities this theory opens up and I just wanted to throw it out there and see if anyone else has any thoughts. :)

  63. Anna on #

    I read this book in one sitting. Gosh, I actually believed her to be a werewolf. Seriously, I feel cheated! Gahhhhh

  64. Callie on #

    Well, since micha is a compulsive liar, I dont know of she is telling the truth about being a werewolf… ( and I probably am going to look very stupid if it clearly states that she wasn’t ) but in any case, I liked the book so much, I read it in *1* day!!!

  65. Brendan on #

    A lot of great discussion in this thread–it seems I wasn’t alone in having the prison allusions on p. 232 go completely over my head! I also love the points people have made about Micah’s intersexuality, and the fact that “Jordan” and “Micah” are both gender-neutral names. Not to mention that she describes Pete and just-born Jordan as “smelling wrong.”

    I’m not holding out for some great insight as to how things REALLY went (though I’m choosing not to believe that the book is all written by someone locked in a padded cell, mostly because of my intense dislike for Catcher in the Rye). I just wanted to bring in one more thought: Micah says several times in the book that when one starts lying, one has to start piling on more lies to support the first. Why on earth should we believe that her account becomes MORE truthful as the book goes on? The “Lie Number (X)” chapters could very easily be the biggest lies she tells, as she realizes places where she slipped earlier in the narrative and has to distract you or justify them somehow.

    Amazing, anyway, how well the book built sympathy for an openly unreliable character with whom I rarely identified. Narrative is such an insidious tool for that purpose. Despite everything, I found myself wanting Micah to be okay!

  66. tps on #

    I read this so early in ARC, I tried to be extra careful NOT to give away the perfect twist.
    moreover I read this book in one sitting. Gosh, I actually believed her to be a werewolf. Seriously, I feel cheated! Gahhhhh

  67. Da'Zhae Qualls on #

    HI, i thank you so much for writeing this book. i am in the 11th grade and attened this book caught my eye as i looked around for my book that i would soon us for my book fair. when i first pick this book up i didnt think that she was a wolf nor that she would have that much passion for liying. micah reminded me of me without the lying, i loved this book because of the never ending events.

  68. A zuccini on #

    Just finished the book today, and I have a LOT of theories, so my post is going to be very long.

    First of all, I really like the theory that Jordan is Micah, that she was born intersexed and he was “killed” when she started having periods. Notice that Micah says he died the same year of her first change – ie, her first period. I also picked up on the fact that they both ahve unisex names, as someone else mentioned earlier.

    Similarly, I also think that Pete could be a representation of Micah’s “inner wolf.” Whether she was a werewolf or not, this works to me for a few reasons. One, he admits to killing Zach. This might have been something that Micah actually did but simply couldn’t admit to doing herself, so she created Pete as her “stand-in,” possibly in the hopes that we would see through it. Two, Pete is more than happy to live on the farm. This might represent the fact that Micah really does recognize that the farm is the safest place for her to be, but doesn’t quite want to admit to that either.

    While we’re on the subject of the farm,. I think that it very well could be a mental institution and their parents took her there after she “snapped” a bit and admitted to killing Zach (using Pete as her stand-in for this confession in the book). This could quite easily be the reason her parents looked at her as if they didn’t love her, although she does say that they stopped loving her years earlier (of course, there’s no telling if that’s the truth or just another lie). On this subject, I especially like a theory I read in this thread that Hilliard is a patient whose sanity has been completely lost.

    I’m somewhat skeptical to the idea that she ever had a friendship with Tayshawn and Sarah. It’s too easy. I actually doubt if they even existed, especially Sarah – after all, most girls don’t want to befriend the girl their boyfriend cheats on them with. Instead, what if Micah was actually Zach’s girlfriend? His *main* girlfriend, his public girlfriend. What if she did kill him, and what if it was because she was tired of him cheating on HER? It would explain her multiple comments on his “inconsistent” heart.

    Her “apartment” at the end may be a different hospital she was moved to after the “farm.” It is very small and confining, and the other runners she claims to be friends with may in fact be other patients. It’s possible that Yayeko does visit her, or that Yayeko is a stand-in for her family here.

    Oh, and speaking of Yayeko, my last theory involves her and her family. When Micah says something to the effect of “You think I killed them. Jordan, and Zach, and Yayeko and her daughter and mother,” I noticed that Yayeko and her family are the only ones mentioned who were not stated to actually die in the book. I think this might be Micah making a slip in her lies and accidentally admitted that the Shojis actually DID die, and it would also fit with Micah seeming to accidentally refer to Yayeko in the past tense a page or so earlier.

    Well, those are my theories. I actually don’t like to think that Micah killed anyone, but the more I think about it, the more everything just seems to fit that way.

    Of course, the other possibility is that Micah killed no one, and that all or most of what she said is true (in my opinion, her werewolfism is very, very debatable). I guess in the end it really is up to us to decide.

  69. dazhae qualls on #

    i know it say that i have already comment but thats not me its frod. first of all i llove this book because of the mind puzzles that it gives. however i do think that this book should have an part two, yet i really think that her stalker is zach sprit came back to her. and about the cage i Believe that its a room that she goes in after ahe goes on her killing hunt. micah and jordan are very much alike just has they are very diffrent, just because jordan is who she was before.

  70. Linda Frasier on #

    On my next read, I think I’ll pay attention to what her critic – Brandon? – has to say. He may be a clue.

  71. BarbaraRamos on #

    Liar has now become one of my top favorite books and it takes a lot for a book to be in my top. The book was so mind blowing and all twisted up I loved it. I read the book in two days because from the start I couldn’t get my face out of the book. Miah is a really twisted person but she is not insane. She had me at some points in the book with her lie’s because she made me believe them. I’ve told all my friends to read this book and I have also told them I wont spoil any surpises that pop up in the book. I must say again that this book was well writer. And I look forward to reading more of this authors books because she is truley amazing.

  72. Karen_St_Louis on #

    I agree with what Linda just commented above about Brandon. What if Brandon made up his story of seeing Zach and Micah together at the very beginning of the book, just to be a jerk to both Sarah and Micah? (Seems to be the sort of thing he enjoys.) And Micah, being a liar, goes with it, because she’s always had a secret crush on Zach. That part about meeting Zach at Central Park and how he just started kissing her never rang true to me. Sounds too much like a teenage fantasy, similar to Micah’s admitted fantasy of kissing Tayshawn and Sarah in Sarah’s apartment. Micah goes from telling us at the very beginning that Zach “wasn’t much of a boyfriend” to telling us that he was the only one who made her feel alive to telling us that they made passionate love all of the time. Is she increasing the intensity of her fantasy as she goes?

    I was never really able to buy into the werewolf thing, even though it fit so beautifully with so many earlier details of Micah’s story. (And I’m a geneticist, and let me tell you, horizontal gene transfer could never account for someone changing from human to wolf. Sorry.) I’m much more inclined to believe that Micah is mentally troubled and the Farm is an institute or a juvenile detention center. I think she was responsible for Jordan’s death, one way or another, and possibly others.

    But as everyone else has pointed out, there isn’t really one “correct” solution, is there? That’s what makes the speculation so enjoyable. The fact that Micah is so lovable despite being so unreliable testifies to Justine Larbalestier’s talent.

  73. Arielle on #

    If you’re thinking about the story from the Micah-is-a-mentally-ill-person point of view, it’s kinda like another version of ‘The Uninvited’ (the movie). You’re seeing everything from a psychotic persons point of view, yet you don’t realize it. You believe everything they show you or tell you, yet everything they’re portraying to you is actually just in their minds, an image that they have made to cover up the truth. In this case, the truth is Micah was actually the one who killed Zac yet she blames it on a character she has made up (Pete) whom is actually the wolf side of her. And in ‘The Uninvited’, the main girl (forget her name) blames the death of her mother all on the step-mother & creates a story in her head for it, but in the end you find out she’s actually crazy & that she was just making everything up in her head & she was actually the one who accidentally killed her mother & sister.

    Justine is a very clever writer, & the way she messes with your mind like this just sends shivers up my spine because you never really know if ‘the pretty picture Micah the liar has painted’ is true, or if she’s just a mental impulsive liar & everything is just covered with lies to make a world of her own.

  74. Bree on #

    The answer seems obvious, yet I believe Justine Larbalestier wanted it to be. She wanted to see if we’d be optimistic or cynical like Micah. The question is not “is Micah lying” rather “Will you believe her lies”. Will you believe the book to be Syfy or Realistic Fiction. I believe the book to be neither. I believe it to be what it was meant to be; a mystery.

  75. Emily on #

    Ok so I loved this book but the endding had me speechless. I liked I but at the same time I wanted the whole book to be true I wanted to believe that she had told us the whole truth but that’s very unlikely. My question is and I hope someone responds is I didn’t get the part at the end when whe was said it was the end of her. One thing in the whole book I think is true is that she did love Zack. Any way I really hope to get some answers and opinions to. Just really want to know what everyone thought about the whole thing

  76. Emily on #

    As I was reading the book I did find it weird how she said that she left out the whole thing about people following her Sarah and tayshawn like some people in the thread said there is something Micha left out but what and why just saying.

  77. Linda on #

    Emily,
    I know how you feel about the ending. But would her teacher visit her (wherever she is) if she’d killled her family?

    I still suspect her father is the killer. Don’t ask me why.

    Do you mean where she says, “this is my life, the beginning and the end of it?” You could interpret that as from now on, she will be someone else, I suppose. She obviously isn’t going to contact her parents, so it’s a new life.

    One nagging suspicion: once she says, “promise fulfilled,” is she allowed to lie?

  78. Emily on #

    Thanks that helped more than you could know. I like you theory about the dad being the killer, to tell you the truth I actually think all she told us was the truth except for at least some parts like I do beleive she is a warewolf and she didn’t kill Zack and that there really is a farm. I don’t think that she would make such an outrageous lie and expect us to believe what do you think? I want to know if any one else thinks it was true or if it was just a bunch of lies. Anyone can respond just want to hear peoples thoughts

  79. Bree on #

    I was just thinking about the “inconsistent heart” note. She uses the exact same words later in the book when describing her love for Zach and how she feels as though his heart is inconsistent. I find it strange how suppressed her love for him is in the beginning of the book, she even tells him she doesn’t love him. Could Micah really handle being the “after school girlfriend”? Did Zach’s many girlfriends get to her and cause her to go over the edge? I find the icicle scene important, mainly because it is the first physical contact the reader sees between Micah and Zach, but also because of how the scene ends. Micah becomes intrigued by a icicle sharp like a knife. What if this scene was not when they first really met, but the last time she saw Zach.

    I myself would not like to think of Micah as a killer, she is the relatable girl bullied in school without seeming like a victim. I find myself in her, even the lying aspect. But when you take out the syfy aspect of the book you’re left with:

    Abusive parents
    Pills
    Gender disorder
    Dead brother (very much hated)
    Dead boyfriend (after school boyfriend)
    a liar

    I think that adds up to a murderer.

  80. Emily on #

    Wow I never thought about it that way that she lied about it being the first time she met Zack was actually her going off the edge. But one thing that realy confused me and I thought really wasn’t a big deal was her brother. What was the point of her pretending he was there when he was dead. It just didn’t make sense. Thanks for your input it really put everyting in a diffrent perspective

  81. Alessandra on #

    I just finished it about 3 seconds ago and i am soooo sad that it is over, at one point i lost the book at a corner store in my town and i flipped, i found it yesterday and i was page 168 (best page ever)and read the rest. I didnt sleep but it is worth it!!!!! got any other books like that one, cause i wanna read it

  82. Morgan12 on #

    So I finished Liar about 30 minutes ago. By far the BEST book I have ever read! I love reading everyones interpretations of this book. Being a teenager and growing up in the time of Disney, Harry Potter, and Twilight so the magical aspect of Micah turning into a warewolf is fun and believable to me. I don’t like seeing the possible “dark side” of this book(to depressing). The only thing that throws me off is the last three pages where she ends with “Would I lie to you?” That part to me just seems very cynical! Ahhh! I guess I will just always ponder that. I plan to give my English teacher and my mom this book so I can discuss it with someone else to hear their views on it all. Anyway, BRAVO! I heart this book, and you Justine for producing such a great novel!

  83. Betty on #

    i feel like micah could be gender confused and

    found herself in zach but since he kept asking

    her about why she lied about being a boy she

    killed him and pete is just one of her

    personalties that she made up so she is

    schizophrenic and in a mental institution and

    the whole wolf thing is a lie i also think that

    jordan her brother was real and she killed him

    which is why the parents are so quick to

    accuse her of killing zach and by her claiming

    that pete is a wolf shes just using her other

    personality as an excuse, the cage can also be

    taken as a symbol of the parents trying to get

    her to figure out who she is like literally

    trapped by their way of thinking how

    everything should be. i think the family is all a

    figment of her imagination and that they are

    just the doctors and patients in the institution.

    and lily the cousin that was like flirting with

    pete shows how she is kind of a little kid at

    heart that is still confused about who she is

    gender wise. does she like boys or girls is

    micah a boy or a girl? the teacher could also

    be made up and just be how she views her

    mother since the dad is the one that is very

    abusive towards her. sarah and tayshawn are

    troubling because i do believe they are real as

    is zack; i feel that they just add to the gender

    confused part of the story and nothing else

    and so that zack felt more real. zach might not

    have paid attention to her nd she probably

    was like stalking him which is why she knew

    he was running at 4isham in the morning nd

    killed him. the dogs were mentioned for a

    reason maybe they’re scared of her cuz they

    sense her inner demon so maybe she sneaked

    in that night grabbed one and let it lose on

    zack? so many different scenarios!

  84. shannon on #

    i thought the trial was HER trial – she was accused & tried for zach’s murder. the narrative is her being questioned by the police and her testimony on the stand and some talks with psychiatrists in advance of her trial…
    she mentions how the reporters never found the farm – i think they went looking for the farm b/c of her story/lie about pete: the supposed real killer. i think the theory that pete is her wolf side (white like her werewolf family) is good.
    i also think her brother jordan DID die by accident – the one her father described to explain micah being gone from school: leg broken in 10 places, face cut up. micah says good lies have alot of truth in them and that her dad lied really well. so he used the details of his son’s accident.

    i think her parents did abandon her. and her teacher did take her in. but i think micah killed all 3 of them.
    micah states at some point ‘you think i killed both of them, maybe five’… so i think that’s the extra 3.

  85. jess on #

    at the verrryy end, when she is talking about her first memoury with the husky and saying how she felt at home for the first time and stuff, and then how she compares it to the way she felt with zach makes me think that zac really was a werewolf afterall as well!
    just throwing it out there (:

  86. CD on #

    Just finished the book and had to head over to the spoiler thread to hear what other people thought. I don’t buy the schizophrenia theory. Schizophrenics aren’t compulsive liars, they are delusional. Micah knows she is lying, she can’t always keep track of all her lies, maybe at times she chooses to believe her lies, but I don’t think she is delusional in any way. Disturbed–Absolutely. But not delusional.

    I had a lot more written by it came out more like a rambling so I deleted. I’ll try to come back and post more when I can figure out what it is I’m trying to say.

  87. Nathan on #

    I think the theory about pete being the werewolf part of her is perfect. I think Micah created Pete to deal with the fact that she killed Zach, but couldnt bring herself to admit it, and just created him in her head to explain it, because, don’t her lies make her world better? When she is talking about reasons he lies, she says she resents people richer then her, people smarter then her, etc etc, Pete is the opposite to all 5 ( can’t remember all of them) things. he’s poor, ‘slow’ etc. And he’s white, like the werewolf side of re family.
    But I don’t understand jordan! How did de die? Did he ever exist? Is Jordan, like Pete, another part of Micah.
    Anyway, definitely my new favorite book. I half want a sequel so I can keep enjoying it, but half don’t so I don’t have even more to work out. Great job Justine :D

  88. Jeff on #

    I have not read all the comments in this thread, but I tend to read the book as follows:

    Micah accidentally killed her brother, but not as a werewolf. She takes the pill and keeps her hair short and tries to pass as a boy at the beginning of high school to make up for what she did to her parents, to give them the son that they lost. She grew delusional as the result of this trauma, and the whole werewolf identity is in her head.

    The “white boy” (who supposedly killed Zach) is her shadow: he’s white, she’s biracial; he’s a boy, she’s a girl; he’s uneducated and homeless, she’s college-bound and has a big family. He probably only exists in her head, as a way for her psyche to “re-integrate” with a disowned part of herself, to become whole.

    She is writing the story from a mental institution, hence the reference to prison bars fairly early in the book.

  89. Sweenette on #

    Micah 2:11 says “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people!”

    Kawinkydink, much?

    Anyway, I believe that Micah’s lycanthropy was a metaphor for her mind. Still not sure if she had a brother though.

  90. Caroline on #

    hey,I’m Brazilian

    read the whole book translate by google.
    I really have not formed a theory.I think that’s what Micah wanted from the beginning.

    sorry me the bad english

  91. Jc Medina on #

    the middle part of the book blew my mind away. i was like @_@!!!! but i love the book, i read it over my testing weeks, obviously not a waste of time. but i love it :D you should make a sequel to it :D and i wanna be as good as a writer as you justine :D

  92. Jed on #

    Just finally read the book, and liked it a lot.

    And this is a great discussion. I especially liked comments from Ariel (38), Jenny (42), Kate Marshall (43), Caitlin (44), Darcy (46), Tricia Sullivan (60), and Linda Frasier (63). Especially-especially Darcy’s suggestion that Micah was actually Jordan; I really like that. I had wondered whether Micah was actually biologically male, but I like the Jordan theory better.

    I’m in the “wasn’t surprised by the werewolf thing” camp. I guessed maybe a quarter of the way through that that’s where it was headed: Micah’s sense of hearing and smell and her running ability pointed that way, and then I remembered the fur bit from the beginning and became convinced. But I loved the reveal anyway. (There were half a dozen places where Micah says “You’re probably wondering about x” and I was delighted because I had indeed been wondering about exactly that.) pAnd I think various people’s comments about genre expectations are really good points; part of why I guessed the werewolf bit was because everything I’ve read of Justine’s so far has been fantasy.

    Regarding interpretations:

    I very much want to interpret this book in the surface reading: Micah’s a werewolf, Pete killed Zach, Jordan died in an accident, age 10. And most of the book works in that interpretation. But I can’t figure out a way to make the prison-and-pills line (that several of y’all mentioned) fit into that reading.

    “Bars surround me. Prison guards bind my arms, bring me pills several times a day.” At first I assumed it was metaphorical (because it’s immediately preceded by “I’ve been kept hostage by lies all my life. Imprisoned by them”). But I don’t see a way to read the “bring me pills several times a day” bit as metaphorical.

    It could, of course, just be an outright lie. But there isn’t enough detail to support it as a lie, and I don’t see a reason for her to throw that particular lie in at that particular place.

    So I’m wondering: those of you who do believe in the werewolf reading (or even see it as one among multiple plausible readings), how do you interpret that bars-and-pills line?

  93. Linda Frasier on #

    So I’m wondering: those of you who do believe in the werewolf reading (or even see it as one among multiple plausible readings), how do you interpret that bars-and-pills line?

    I think there must be a reading where the werewolf thing doesn’t matter. Maybe if her father killed Zach and probably Jordan, too. Hard to know when her mother talks to her about this stuff. People often blame the victim; “You made dad mad and the chair he threw at you hit Jordan in the head” as the underlying accusation wouldn’t be too hard to believe in a family seriously scared of a violent man. Let’s say she’s not a wolf and Pete is real. Maybe she’s a neglected child that has had to spend far too much time fending for herself, and her wolf side is her selfish running away side. She may well fit in better in the country with her strange relatives.

    She says she takes pills and has a cage at home. I think it’s obvious that she has had some kind of psychiatric treatment in the past, anyway, but that could be for any number of reasons. The pills that stop her from turning into a wolf could be anti-psychotics rather than birth control.

    If Jordan is a figment, perhaps she killed him off in her mind. Or she’s transgender and killed off her maleness. Or introduced herself as Jordan at her last school. If she isn’t a wolf, she could be telling the truth about her motivations and feelings through that lens.

    Somehow, I’m inclined to believe that she’s in college at the end and that her teacher visits her. I really need to re-read the thing carefully like I’m doing a college English paper, writing down notes and page numbers. There isn’t any reason to believe that events actually occurred in the same order as they did in the book, and I’d like to re-read and see what I think about that. If I were teaching English, I’d pick this book to illustrate what post-structuralist literature is, since it requires a certain amount of interpretation from the reader to make sense of it.

    So many ideas I’ve read here never occurred to me while I was reading the book, though. I wonder if Justine ever peeks in here to see what theories people come up with. I doubt I’d be able to resist. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

  94. Megan R. on #

    Thanks to everyone for the interesting theories! I just finished this book today and thought I knew exactly what happened (though I agree that the ending was extremely confusing.) I thought I would come to this thread (which I almost read before reading Liar- glad I didn’t!)and tell averyone what happened. But, I read every single comment on this thread and now I’m stuck. I have only a few things that nobody mentioned, or at least I don’t remember anyone saying it.

    1. The interpretation of this book depends on the age of the reader. For instance, I’m fourteen, and if someone older than me (Micah was 17) tells me something, I’m probabaly more apt to believe it than someone who’s above 17 and calling Micah a crazy kid. I think that if you are 14, your interpretation will vary from someone who’s 17, who’s 30, and so on. It really depends on if you’d tend to look up to Micah for being older, or down upon her for just being a mental teenager. For me, it’s hard to think that this girl who is older and maybe wiser was lying to me this whole time.

    2. What if Micah was the only character in the book? Think about it… Sarah was almost like Micah’s opposite. Rich, pretty, popular: what Micah might have wanted to be. Maybe she’s trying to tell the reader that being Sarah was a secret desire, and maybe it showed that she did have a feminine side that Zach would have dated with no question. Tayshawn was the only boy who was ever nice to her. If she was really confused about her gender, or really insane, than maybe creating Tayshawn was a part of her that really was masculine, but a good masculine. Or maybe Tayshawn just made her feel better about herself so she tweaked how someone she’d known had actually treated her. Zach was Micah’s love. To me, Zach is the part of Micah that Micah liked. The athletic side. She said running made her feel free. And she referred to Zach as making her feel free. As far as the murder goes, I agree with a previous comment about how Pete is creeated to tie together the deaths of Zach and Jordan. Back to Zach: Micah could have made him up easily. Think about it: he was Sarah’s boyfriend, and Micah admitted an attraction towards Sarah. Maybe the inconsistent heart thing was about how Micah was mad at herself (the Sarah part) for loving Zach in two different personas… I don’t know. I’m not going to continue because my comment already has me confused. Let me know if you want to hear the rest of my theory. :)

  95. Linda Frasier on #

    Megan, I think the whole truth must be in there. Since she contradicts hereself, you just have to decide what’s true and what isn’t. I also can’t help thinking that there has to be a reading in which the wolf thing doesn’t matter.

    I had the same reaction you had when I started reading the comments here. Every theory has its merits and just muddles your mind up more.

  96. Lauren on #

    I am mainly using this post to help me unclutter my brain a bit. I’m still far too confused to be thinking rationally.

    When I put downthe book, I immediately thought, “Whoop, that’s it! Another book into the finish pile!” I was most fortunate to come across this thread though. It has really made me think so much more than when I was reading the book.

    I have several theories, and I will list them in order of which one I think is likeliest to least (please note that I have a liking towards ‘dark’ stories. Creepy, I know):

    1: The mental institution theory is by far the most believable one – for me– that I have read so far. If I were to re-read the book, which I will, I would probably be able to see for myself that plenty of evidence points towards this. I mean, think about it. If someone loner was rattling on about being a werewolf and dating a popular jock and being locked up in a cage in their bedroom, would you believe them? I hope not. Besides, the sudden introduction of Pete seemed fishy as well. As already stated many times before, Pete would be a convenient way of pushing the blame onto someone.

    2: Micah killed Jordan. It’s not that impossible, you know. Every time she describes him, she calls him a brat, or an idiot, or a little sh*t. And she fantasizes in killing him. She *almost* killed him on purpose. So what if she just made one little slip and squeezed his throat, or gave him one too many Panadol? You never know, and you’ll never know. Also, if Jordan was killed, then Micah could be imagining Pete as a ‘twin’ of Jordan’s. Which makes one of them dead, the other one non-existent. Then, looping back to Theory #1, Micah blames Pete, a.k.a. Jordan, for Zach’s death.

    3: Has it crossed anyone’s mind that Micah might be a wolf imagining it’s a human teenager girl? Uh-uh. I think it’s possible. A human cannot be a wolf. A wolf cannot be a human. So what if we just introduce a werewolf, the missing link between these two species? Then switched around the creatures? Micah, a ‘human’, who is actually a werewolf, could be a ‘wolf’, who is actually a werewolf. Yes, I know, werewolves are actually humans transforming into wolves, but in this crazy world of Micah’s anything can happen.

    4: Micah has been telling the truth the whole entire time.

    I’ll leave it to you to ponder on what could’ve happened, but as far as I can say, I’m dead set on Micah being Zach’s (and possibly the Shoji family’s) murderer.

    Notes:
    • what role does Erin Moncaster play in this?
    • how about Zach’s ‘punishing inconstant heart’?
    • what was with Micah’s father’s lie of her leg broken in ten places, and her face in a mess?

  97. Vedz on #

    Just finished the book literally 10 minutes ago. I must say the moment i read the words i am a werewolf i was convinced it was another lie, and i read it non-stop to see if she would admit it. the fact that she didnt confused me, so i was back to square 1 in terms of understanding… anything. i have narrowed it down to a few theories, although there are more questions than answers in them –

    1. What if Zach didn’t die? At the end of the day, all we have is Micah’s word for it. Which, as we know, isn’t much. Linking back to a comment i read earlier – what if the things that she reiterates and stresses the most aren’t true? this would link back to the mental institution theory, with the abusive parents and her being the murderer.

    2. For some reason i have difficulty believing any of the werewolf stuff could ever be true, only because it just doesn’t seem right. She tells us herself the best lies have details – which is exactly what she does, dropping hints about her ‘illness’ literally dozens of times in the first part.

    3. Another theory i find convincing is that she fantasized her and Zach’s relationship from the start. and that she may be the only character in the book.

    4. I think that some of the minor details could be true though. They aren’t really important, but they are a start to building her true character.

    a) her dad’s father was a black local in america, who is dead now.
    b) micah is a girl. i think
    c) she harbors strong feelings for zach. what they are though, is another question.
    d) she has some issues. no scratch that. she has a LOT of issues.
    e) her mother is white and french (although, truth be told the phrases she uses are extremely stereotypical french words like cherie and mon dieu)
    f) she liked yayeko.
    g) micah is a liar.

    5) i think this quote could really relate to micah –
    “be careful what you pretend to be because that is what you become”
    as in her lying about
    -being a boy
    -werewolf (metaphorically speaking of course)

    Things I want to know:
    why did zach hide is DNA test? what did that mean? was the body not his?
    is her name really micah?

  98. Rasmus on #

    A store i read / heard yesterday:

    An old man told hes grandson:” My son, theres a battle between two wolfes inside us all. One is evil. It’s anger, jelousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.
    The other wolf is good.It’s joy, peace, love, hope. humility, kindness and truth.”
    The boy thought about it and asked: “Grandfater, which wolf wins?”
    The old man quietly replied:
    “The one you feed”

    Aaaaaand ill just leave this here for you guys :)

  99. Rasmus on #

    A story* My bad, not “a store” :>

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