Monday, September 19, 2011

Liar, Liar Review

Book talk: Kevin is a liar, but who isn't?  Most people lie every day.  It's just good manners if you think about it.  The only difference between Kevin and most people is that he's really good at it.  So good in fact that he convinces his social studies partner Katie that he's come down with a deadly disease so that she volunteers to do their project by herself.  Sure it's a lie, but Katie prefers to work on her own anyway, so who is he hurting?  Besides Kevin has better things to focus his attention on, like Katrina.  Kevin is determined to find out what kind of guy she likes and then become that guy--or at least tell enough lies to convince Katrina that he has.

Rocks my socks: The reason that Kevin gets away with so much is because he is so charming, and he charms the reader just like anyone else.  Paulsen's sense of humor as he depicts the world of 8th grade boys was amusing as well and I couldn't help laughing at Kevin's favorite band, Bucket o' Puke n' Snot, and their hit songs "I Could Kill and Eat You," "You Suck, but Let's Hook Up Anyway," and the classic "Loving You Is a Pit of Death."  Kevin's interaction with the boy he babysits is endearing as well.

Rocks in my socks: As you might expect from a story about a liar, the plot isn't really believable.  The fact that so many people including his teachers believe his outlandish stories stretched my credulity.  The characters themselves aren't really believable either and Kevin is the only one with any dimensions.  At times the novel felt a bit insensitive to me as well with Kevin describing himself as "socially retarded" and another character as "husky, I guess you'd call it if you were looking fora  nice way to say that she's got a great future ahead of her as a load-bearing wall."   He feigns an interest in this girl while really ignoring everything she says because she's his crush's best friend and he justifies his actions to himself by saying they're "allies, not buddies."  In general he treats a lot of people like a real jerk and even when he tries to make amends in the end it didn't feel entirely genuine to me.

Every book its reader: They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we all do.  This one's small size, short length, and cartoony cover image make it look like something that belongs in the easy chapter section.  But the characters are in 8th grade and I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable giving it to anyone younger than 5th.  At the same time the narrator sounded younger than that at times and I'm not sure older kids would pick up a book that looks like this one.  Still, as long as you don't take the novel seriously it is pretty funny and that combined with the short length would make it good for middle school kids with low reading levels.

Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen

Buy it or check it out

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