By: Melanie | May 10, 2015 | (47) Comments

Discussion Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula StokesLiars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Pages: 368
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Discussion Review by Celine and Mel

*This is a spoiler-free review*

Mel: Liars, Inc. was exactly what I was hoping it to be – a thriller that was actually unpredictable, nail-biting and totally kickass.

Celine: Yes! Liars, inc. surprised me, both in terms of plot and how much I enjoyed it. I’m usually not a fan of thrillers/mysteries because they usually choose plot over characters.

Mel: Haha I’m the complete opposite, girl. I ADORE ALL ZE MYSTERY THRILLERS! It’s one of my favourite genres, honestly speaking. So I definitely went in having high expectations – especially because Stokes won me away with The Art of Lainey – and she totally delivered.

Celine: Yes, and as a character-oriented reader, I find myself not enjoying them a lot. But! Not only did Liars have a fantastic plot, it also had solid characters that kept me second-guessing everything.

When you care about someone, you can’t just turn that off because you learn they betrayed you.

Mel: I think the characters was the only weak point for me. I did love the diversity that Stokes brought to the table by having a half-Indian heroine, but I really struggled to care for most of the characters – Parvati in particular. I mean, it’s not that there’s anything to not like, but for me on a personal level, I just wasn’t clicking with them. However, that being said, I quickly fell in love with Max’s narration and the character himself. Max’s narration felt highly authentic and exactly how you expect a teenage boy to sound. He’s self-doubting, does stupid things, can be impulsive but he’s still brilliant, witty and so much fun to read about. Basically, love the main character, but not so much to the supporting characters.

Celine: I agree with you on that! Max definitely stole the show for me. I loved his narration and his authenticity. I never thought of him as unbelievable, and like you said, he was just a guy, you know? He did stupid things and smart things and he made mistakes. Like you, I wasn’t completely sold on Parvati, or the Max/Parvati ship. This is mostly because I just don’t like it when people are already in a relationship at the start of a book. I mean, it’s realistic, yes, but it never has me shipping the ship. I liked their dynamic, but I never really cared about them together. I really need to see a relationship form and evolve, but that’s of course a personal thing.

Mel: Yeah Celine I’m the same with you on the romance! It’s just too hard to sell me on a romance when I don’t get to see it from the very beginning as I have nothing to base it on. But still, I love how it never took over the plot and how well it was portrayed – with a sex-positive vibe, too!

Celine: Yess I love that! No shaming of any kind to be found here. I really love what Stokes did here, because to me it kind of felt like we just got a look into someone’s life, with already existent relationships and people being comfortable with each other and stuff just feeling natural. Though I didn’t like the romance that much, I did like how natural it all felt.

Mel: Oh yes, seconding you on everything there!

Maybe I could dole out the truth in tiny pieces that, once assembled, would make a picture that resembled a reality in which I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Celine: Ooh, and I’m really curious but did you end up guessing what the twist was?!

Mel: I know a lot of people who did end up guessing the twist beforehand but I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. I love all the red-herrings that Stokes threw around–this book left me with some serious trust issues with the amount of twists it pulled and lies it told! The book lives up to the name, hah. Liars… all of them! *side eyes you all*

And you?

Celine: Same! I was completely confused and just didn’t trust ANYONE. Everyone has secrets and everyone is mysterious about stuff and everyone makes mistakes. So really, I just decided that everyone did it :p No but really, I did not see the final twist coming and I was pleasantly surprised because I’m usually pretty good at guessing twists. Everyone has their own agenda and I love that – the reader is just as much on their own as Max is.

Mel: Haha yeah. I liked how the reveal didn’t come out from nowhere, if you get what I mean? Some books have the randomest twists that don’t even make any sense, but this book sets up the twist craftily, which I loved.

I also really liked how aside from the mystery, this book had really strong family and friendship themes.

Celine: Completely agree with that! Especially loved the family aspect. Max’ family isn’t absent at all, but plays a large role in his life. Absolutely loved all the different dynamics, and the obvious love between all family members. Max has this loving family, and he realises this and appreciates it. Of course, in his past he’s been with different families. I loved this extra touch, because of course not everyone stays in the family they were born in. And I don’t think I know of another protagonist who has even been homeless for a while. But yeah, I really loved the dynamic between all family members and all the love they had for each other.

Mel: Exactly! Max’s life is pretty messed up but I love how this theme of family pulls through strongly to the very end. And also, it’s so hard to come by a realistically portrayed family dynamic these days, and Stokes did a seriously wonderful job here.

To me, Mother Nature isn’t nearly as scary as human nature.

Celine: Completely agree 🙂 I think Liars, Inc. was just a wonderfully solid novel. While the romance may not have done much for me, the twists kept me guessing and I adored Max’ character and situation. Oh and ALSO I really loved that the police/FBI were actually involved.

Mel: Yeah, I swear, it’s like an unwritten rule that the police have to be totally oblivious morons that only get in the way of the main character. So yeah, thank god that the police actually had more involvement in this one! (Makes it so much more realistic.)

Celine: Exactly!! So often crime novels just have the hero solve everything with no police to be seen. But here they played a part in everything and I loved that.

Mel: In all, I really liked this one! Paula Stokes has yet to disappoint us! (Also, I love how discussion reviewing all of Paula Stokes’ books is becoming a tradition here 😀 )

~Thank you HarperTeen for sending us the review copies!~

4 Stars
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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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47 Responses to Discussion Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

  1. Kelly says:

    I love a discussion review, especially when the awesomeness of the book is pretty much agreed upon. I love the sound of this one, and at last, a review that didn’t find the twists predictable! I love suspense and been looking for that one read that could rival Dangerous Girls, and still yet to find it. I’m hoping this might be the one. Brilliant discussion ladies and glad you were both able to enjoy it <3 *whooshes off to buy a copy*
    Kelly recently posted…Talon by Julie KagawaMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, Celine and I both adored this one equally ^.^ Haha, honestly, nothing can compare with Dangerous Girls because that twist was OUT OF THIS WORLD but Liars, Inc. certainly is one that you don’t want to miss 😉

  2. I actually felt the opposite to you guys, I was let down on the thriller aspect of the novel but enjoyed the rest of it, including the romance. But I couldn’t grow to like Max’s point of view. Although like you, I connect really relate to Pavarti and her decisions much. Lovely discussion review ladies!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Indulgence Insider #27 – New Reviewer & Happy Mother’s Day!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I think Parvarti was a weak spot for many of us! It’s great that you enjoyed the romance though, Jeann! I can see the appeal 🙂 Thanks, hun <33

  3. Ooh, I’m glad you liked this one! I haven’t read anything by Paula Stokes yet, but I’ve SO been meaning to. And I LOVE those sorts of novels where you can’t trust anyone. Don’t they just make everything more interesting!? Great review/discussion. I love these sorts of posts. <3 <3
    Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer recently posted…Sunday Weekly Wrap Up (61) & Stacking the Shelves (41)My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      YOU HAVEN’T?! Fix this immediately, girl!! Yeah, I love it when the author successfully creates a tense atmosphere where you feel like you cannot trust anyone. Thanks, Kara <33

  4. Wattle says:

    Great review ladies! 🙂 I’ve heard lots of good things about this one, but have been on the fence about reading it myself. I’m definitely going to consider it the next time I feel like reading a mystery novel.
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #25My Profile

  5. Hannah says:

    Love your discussion! I definitely enjoyed this one – while I figured out the plot twist quite early on, the tension was kept so high that I just kept on turning the pages till the end. Loved the lack of shaming in this book, as well as the flawed but plausible characters, and Max’s family were awesome.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Hidden Huntress (Malediction Trilogy #2) – Danielle L JensenMy Profile

  6. Lovely review, you two. I am really curious about this one – I’ve been hearing good things about it. I’m glad it was a bit more realistic with the police actually being involved.

    -Lauren
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa by Kim StaglianoMy Profile

  7. Still plan on reading this some day! 😀
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…{Mirror Mirror} The Week of Nothing SpecialMy Profile

  8. I read and LOVED The Art of Lainey and I really want to read Paula Stokes’ newest book. This sounds like exactly something that I would like. Mystery/Thrillers are the best and I love books that are twisty turny with plot twists. I will definitely need to pick this up soon! Love the discussion reviews!
    Olivia @ Fluttering Pages recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up #3My Profile

  9. Amir says:

    I’m not a big YA contemporary reader so I was never really interested with Art of Lainey but like you Mel, I love mystery thrillers too! The blurb sounds awesome and the fact that you both like it makes me even more intrigued! I like books where the family are there too! I just have to remind myself that the romance isn’t really that convincing but with books like this, I’m more invested with the mystery anyway. Awesome discussion review guys! 🙂
    Amir recently posted…Guess Who I Met~My Profile

  10. Kyla F. says:

    I LOVE THIS DISCUSSION REVIEW, YOU GIRLS!!! Especially because I loved this book as well. Keep doing amazing reviews! <3
    Kyla F. recently posted…REVIEW: Liars, Inc. by Paula StokesMy Profile

  11. I am the COMPLETE opposite of you two about the romance. I pretty much ship all the ships instantly if they’re already in a relationship at the start of the book, haha. I don’t know why–I guess I just like knowing that they know each other on a deeper level?

    But I totally agree with what you girls said about the twist (I was pretty much going, Why didn’t I think of that? when the big reveal came), and the gorgeous family dynamics here.

    Fabulous chat review, girls! <3
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Review: Crow’s Rest by Angelica R. JacksonMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Aimee! Ooh yeah I get why you like the romance for that. For me, I don’t always like having the romance already established because then I can’t see how deep it already is and can only rely on the author telling me things, y’know? xD

  12. Tanja says:

    Wait wait! Police are doing something for a change! Who knew. Usually when you get to read this kind of story they are nowhere to be seen. Anyhow this one sounds really interesting and I love that it’s not predictable. Great review 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Bookish Problems #23: Inspiration!My Profile

  13. I am now officially 100% more excited for Liars, Inc.! To be honest I wasn’t that interested when I first heard about it (maybe because of my generally shitty experience with YA mysteries/thrillers), but now I definitely am. It sounds kind of like Dangerous Girls, based on how you two described it, which is good because I’ve heard only great things about that book too. Nope, I haven’t read it yet! xD

    Nooo, it’s so disappointing when the plot is so clever and exciting, but the characters aren’t really. But a half-Indian heroine is interesting, even if you couldn’t connect with her that well, Mel. 🙁 Yay for a realistic teenage narrator for once though, lol — especially a male one! It’s so rare to read from a boy’s perspective in YA books, much less find one who is easily relatable (Percy and Harry probably being the only exceptions… but I’m biased), so I know I’ll love Max’s character already. 😀

    Is it weird that I can feel the intensity of the story just from your review?! The fact that the both of you didn’t trust ANYONE at all is making me fidgety. It’s been so long since I’ve read a book where you never know a person’s true colors and you never know who to trust. Not to mention the twists, too — exciting! Haha, I probably wouldn’t be able to guess the twist either. I’m not that great at predicting stuff in novels. ><

    AND YES. Totally with you about how the hero always solves everything without police help in mystery books. It's unrealistic in so many ways. I'm glad that that wasn't the case here! All in all, it's great that Liars, Inc. lived up to its name and to your expectations. I'll have to check out Paula Stokes sometime soon. Fabulous discussion-review, girls!
    Megan (ง︡’-‘︠)ง recently posted…How Do You Balance All Your Obsessions???My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha yes Percy and Harry are always exceptions XDDDD I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by this one, Meg! Thanks, hun <33

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I hope you’ll like this one then! And yess, I didn’t trust anyone. I hope it’s the same for you because it makes it much more fun 😀

      Thank youu <33

  14. YAY! So glad to hear you two really enjoyed this one!
    I really was surprised with the twist at the end and loved trying to figure out all the red herrings!
    And I really loved both Max and Parvati!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Interview with Holly Bodger author of 5 to 1!!!My Profile

  15. Benish says:

    This book is buried somewhere in my kindle, off to go find it now 🙂 I’ve heard mainly great things about this series so here’s to hoping. Great review <3
    Benish recently posted…Stolen Songbird by Danielle J. Jensen Review♥ Stole my Heart..My Profile

  16. Valerie says:

    AWESOME DISCUSSION GUYS!

    I’m glad this was a good book for both of you! AND YAY NO SLUT SHAMING. I’m really excited to read this and find out what the twist is 🙂
    Valerie recently posted…ARC Review: Crimson BoundMy Profile

  17. Maisha says:

    Amazing post, guys!

    I still haven’t read anything by Paula Stokes, but after reading your discussion, I have to. I love mysteries and thrillers, but I almost never find one that I truly enjoy. Most of them are let-downs for me. I really hope I enjoy this book when I read it 🙂
    Maisha recently posted…Blog Tour: Velvet by Temple WestMy Profile

  18. Rachel says:

    I hate it when a mystery like this portrays the police as not taking any notice of all the sleuthing going on. It makes the mystery very unrealistic and unbelievable. I love mysteries so I need to check this one out. Glad to hear you ladies enjoyed this one! 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…Review: Grave Phantoms by Jenn BennettMy Profile

  19. Whoop! I’m not surprised. A lot of bloggers really loved this because of the mystery and diverse characters. You girls are awesome. I have this book stashed somewhere so thank you for the nudge <3
    Paula M. @ Her Book Thoughts! recently posted…ARC REVIEW: Neverland by Shari Arnold + Giveaway!!My Profile

  20. I really want to read this book! I am a beginner fan of thrillers,and I loved Gone Girl,and I am intrigued by the sound of this book.
    Lovely review guys!
    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted…A new look,some announcements and a giveaway!My Profile

  21. Maya says:

    Now I can’t wait to read this book! I’ve heard amazing things about it but knowing the authenticity and likability that Max comes with and some kind of unexpected but beautifully set-up twist makes me want to run for the book shops! Plus I love a good mystery but the lack of building the romance is sad:(
    Great review<33
    Maya recently posted…My Dream Cast: Legend by Marie LouMy Profile

  22. I agree with you girls on the romance part a lot! I like the book overall, but there was just something about their love story that didn’t quite click with me, and I realized it’s because they’re already a couple at the start. You feel for characters more when you see them face and overcome trials and tribulations, and a couple’s story is included in that. It’s like, why do they even like each other? What is their story? How did their feelings form? It’s all there already and we never got to see it :/ I love Max still, though, but I just couldn’t click with Parvati, either.
    Faye le Potato recently posted…Review + PH Giveaway: Vanishing Girls by Lauren OliverMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yess, that’s exactly my problem with couples that are together from the beginning. Of course, this wasn’t *about* the romance, but I still can’t ship it because I’m not involved, you know? Really did like Max, though 🙂

  23. Ella says:

    I love conversation-type review girls! Especially when there’s a lot of feels involve.
    I’ve been seeing this book around and I have to say that this has caught my attention several times and I can’t wait to have my own copy! I’ve been having occasional craving for mystery/thrillers so I have to try this one soon.
    Ella recently posted…Review: Scratch by Rhonda HelmsMy Profile

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