Micah Wilkins is seventeen years old and a compulsive liar. She outright admits it at the start of the novel. She attends a unique high school where talent and intelligence are nurtured in a relaxed environment. Micah is not very popular, ever since she led everyone to believe she was a boy when she first arrived. Her goal is to just be invisible. Then, one of her classmates, Zach, is killed. She had been seeing him outside of school, unbeknownst to her classmates and his girlfriend. Micah finds herself at the center of attention despite her best efforts to remain invisible. She is also a suspect in the murder as well. Did Micah have anything to do with murder? Can we really believe anything she says?
Micah is the epitome of the unreliable narrator. By admitting she’s a liar at the outset of the novel, she calls into question everything she says, even that very first statement. This concept reminds me of a discussion of Shakespeare that I had in a class about Renaissance theatre. If someone says, “Everything I say is a lie,” it’s a paradox. If, with that statement, they are lying, it means the statement isn’t true. But it also isn’t true if they are telling the truth. I just think it’s fascinating. Anyway, getting back to the book, I can’t say I really like Micah, but her narrative held my interest throughout and I did care for her. I’m not going to spoil anything, but there are so many different ways this book can be read that it’s kind of ridiculous. I really commend Justine Larbalestier for writing such a book. It’s definitely not a book that everyone will like, but one that everyone will talk about.
I really like the format of the novel. The past and present occur side by side instead of in the typical linear fashion. It allows Micah to control what the reader knows and what they don’t. In between the “Before” and “After” chapters, there are history chapters (of Micah, her family, her school, etc.) and chapters that admit lies that she’s told within the narrative. It only took me about two days to read the novel. This style of novel also reminds me of another class I took this semester. A novel that exists in the mind of one character where time is distorted fits right in to postmodernism. It’s an incredibly sophisticated novel and shows how great writing can be in any genre.
I sort of enjoyed the novel. It’s very thought provoking and well written, but I was kind of numb by the end. I felt that I didn’t really know what to think about it. I think it might have been because I had been expecting an easy read after reading tons of books for school. Or I was just floored by how many interpretation I could come up with and couldn’t really settle on one. I will definitely read other works by Justine Larbalestier. I would recommend this book to someone looking for a thought provoking read.
My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins