Liars, Inc., by Paula Stokes


4.5 Stars

If you want a book to build up suspense and be perfect but then slap you in the face with a plot twist no one sees coming, Liars, Inc. is right for you.

The Blurb: 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.

I was expecting Liars, Inc to be good from the start. I didn’t, however, expect it to be so masterfully crafted, with plot twists coming at you from all angles. While other books have been written with a similar concepts, Stokes takes those familiar elements and gives it that “it” factor, subsequently enrapturing me into the story.

Liars, Inc, as you read in the blurb above, follows Max Cantrell, a normal teen that gets framed for the murder of his best friend. So, with the FBI on his tail, he sets out to find the real killer (with the help of his girlfriend) before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

In general, the plot was very fast paced, like what you’d expect from a good cop show. While not always realistic, Stokes puts our Max through many perilous journeys, one of which includes the thievery of some random camper’s pants. 😉 The plot definitely contributes to the quality of this novel, as we all know that without a good plot, you don’t have a story.

The characters I was less fond of, especially Parvati, Max’s “girlfriend”. Max himself was a very typical YA teen, one that is found often in YA novels, fulfilling many of the following criteria:

  1. The character has loud, outgoing friends, while being an introvert himself/herself
  2. The character is an orphan, foster kid, adopted, or has been all three
  3. The character has a dark and painful past they are reluctant to reveal to anyone
  4. The character has a love interest and/or friend with a dark and painful past they are reluctant to reveal to anyone
  5. The character runs from the FBI

See what I mean? Well, not the last one as much, but these cliches rule Max’s life. Don’t assume, however, that they are unwelcome. Dark, brooding people are always welcome onto my cast of swoon-worthy characters, I only wanted to point out that these cliches exist in this book. I did like Max, though, he was an interesting narrator. His actions, on the other hand, were quite stupid. His decision to run from the FBI when he knows he’s innocent and then wondering why no one was believing his story made me slap him, but that’s good, because it shows that he’s a flawed character who makes stupid decisions on impulse sometimes.

However, Max’s girlfriend, Parvati, just drove me insane. I can’t say more, because I’m trying to stay clear of spoiler-city, but I spent the entire book wondering what Max sees in her. You may think that this might have made me dislike the romance, but on the contrary, it made me like it. Parvati, while she had a lot of flaws, grows quite a bit character-development-wise, so I liked seeing how the relationship between her and Max developed. Another aspect I liked was the fact that Max was actually in a position where he really liked his adopted family, because they were nice people. (I know, you may gasp now)

One thing the blurb does is reveal that Preston dies too early. It actually takes quite a while for our characters to discover this particular detail, all while us readers are here tearing our hair out in frustration. In a way, this made me like the book more, because it heightened the intensity of my emotions and getting me further into the book. However, once they do discover that he’s dead, man does the plot pick up (and that ending- awesome).

Anyway, Liars, Inc. was a great, fast read, that would have gotten a five-star rating, if not for the few flaws I mentioned above. Stokes has a gift for writing great stories, and I know I’ll be reading more of her works soon.



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