Liar Out Today
Posted on September 29, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 20 Comments
It’s a busy day for excellent books hitting the market — Harry Connolly’s Child of Fire (today’s Big Idea feature) and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker are just two examples — but I also want to make sure I take a little time to mention Liar, by Justine Larbalestier, which also hits today. I mention it to you not only because Justine’s one of my favorite Australians of all time — and heck, I like a lot of Australians — but also because I’m of the opinion that this is her best book yet, which is saying a fair amount because she’s written a number of good books. It’s not just me who thinks so, either: The book got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and School Library Journal, and foreign rights were secured for seven languages before publication. That’s not a bad trick.
Here’s an excerpt, from Justine’s site, and here’s a page with all those reviews gushing over the book. I do hope you’ll check it out. This is a really good book.
Huh. Does that cover imply that she got her US publisher to see reason over the initial cover they intended (you know, the one that changed the implied race of the protagonist)?
If so, hurrah.
Columbina@1: yes, there was a post to that effect a while back.
It only takes one mistake to ruin an image:
no one plays basketball on a gravel court, for obvious reasons. Occasionally, in the past, you could find kids, usually in the south, who played on hard-packed dirt courts on farms, etc. (nope, no free pass ’cause she’s an ozzie, I’ve had ex-students play pro b-ball in Oz.). Reminds me of Sara Paretsky once having VI Warshawski grab a rebound and “dunk it back”, at a time when a grand total of two women had ever dunked a ball in a game. Other than that, nicely written though I would have appreciated some STRONGER inkling of [SPOILER EXCERPTED — JS] in an excerpt.
Ah, I must have missed it. Carry on.
Yay for a better cover! I’ll have to pick this up soon.
Thanks for the notice!
I reserved a copy at my local bookstore when I saw they had changed the cover.
Thanks for the reminder to pick it up today.
Very interesting, because …
As a librarian with a specialty in children’s and yound adult literature (although that’s not the subfield in which I am currently employed), I followed closely the hot and heavy discussions in various blogs about the proposed cover change. Supposedly her American publisher was taking the stance that having a non-white character on the cover would hurt sales. The author stuck by her guns, expressed her outrage publicly in various forums (fori?) and ultimately saw her American publisher fold to pressure and shame and give in.
What is interesting to me is that nowhere in any of these discussions was the [SPOILER EXCERPTED — JS] revealed or even touched upon. (coolstar notes in a comment above that it would have been nice to have this element more clearly shown or hinted at).
I looked at the Library of Congress cataloging in the LC database, since I used to catalog children’s/YA for that institution, and noted that said element was not revealed in the summary or annotation but does appear in one of the subject headings. I will not be specific in case the nature of this element is intended by the author to be a surprise. For all I know, this intention may be why everyone seems to be acting so hush-hush about it.
As a writer myself, I appreciate carefully planned surprises and find spoiler warnings extremely useful (as well as courteous) to avoid destroying plot elements the revelation of which has been lovingly orchestrated by the author.
Hmmm- I’ll be going to the Scott Westerfeld/Sara Rees Brennan event- a good chance to pick up this one too.
Lyle Blake Smythers:
“As a writer myself, I appreciate carefully planned surprises and find spoiler warnings extremely useful (as well as courteous) to avoid destroying plot elements the revelation of which has been lovingly orchestrated by the author.”
There’s some irony there.
I’ve gone in and cut out a couple things in the comments I think are spoilery. As to the people who know what I cut and wonder why they aren’t played up in reviews, etc., I would suggest that they look at the title of the book more carefully and think about the implications of it to what the character reveals during the book.
So how important is a Publishers’ Weekly starred review, in the grand scheme of things?
They are useful to libraries in terms of what books they think of acquiring. And useful for publicity and pull quotes on the book.
John, you really think me listing the general GENRE of Liar is a spoiler? I would never purposely give spoilers in a comment. Plus, there actually IS a hint in the excerpt……and I purposely did not even use that word. (that was several hours ago, and I guess it’s possible that I both messed up AND forgot what I wrote)
“I would never purposely give spoilers in a comment.”
Who said you did it on purpose?
That said, yes, it is a spoiler. So says me.
Libraries have Library Journal and School Library Journal. They’re across the cube farm from PW.
A starred review in PW gets noticed by buyers in stores. And it makes your publisher happy.
Thanks, John. Irony, indeed. It was seeing Coolstar’s comment, her use of a specific genre term, that made me think, “What? First thing I’ve heard of that” after reading a great deal of discussion about the book because of the cover controversy. This came on top of my initial confusion at seeing the book mentioned here on this blog to begin with. (Again, I found myself thinking, “What?”)
I think, consciously or unconsciously, I felt that it was okay to use the genre term in my comment because I had already seen it here in someone else’s comment. I begrudgingly concede that you are right. This is the same mindthink that leads people to say, “Well, EVERYONE knows what the twist is in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO.” Newsflash: Every day there are babies being born who have not yet seen PSYCHO, or know who Luke Skywalker’s father is, and I could go on for days.
Thanks for being conscientious in this matter.
Although usually I don’t mind spoilers, I’ve been waiting for this one to come out and I think I’d better hurry out and read it before I can read anything else about it!
“I reserved a copy at my local bookstore when I saw they had changed the cover.”
Gosh, if “they” had kept the old cover and everyone didn’t buy the book, how would you feel if “they” dropped the author due to poor sales?
“They” would still be the wrong ones, wouldn’t “they”?
Hey, LBS, don’t blame me! I tried to be as discreet as possible and didn’t feel I’d given away anything that was not in the excerpt (John obviously disagreed, his blog, so he gets to be wrong, occasionally, and to err on the side of caution, not a big deal). But deletions are tricky, as I got the impression that you had used a MUCH worse (spoiler wise) genre term than I now suspect you really used, for example.
I’ll go annoy a BAD blogger now and then watch SG: Universe.
I have a friend who receives your ‘Secect Editions’
who has said your issue presently being enroute to customers and shops.
He said there was a exceptional article by the lead guest author; but, I neglected to ask the name, I want to be sure I purchase the correcdt issue. Can you tell me what his name is?