Usually, Maureen Johnson knocks every one of her stories out of the park. Unfortunately, with Nine Liars, it is less a home run and more an infield blooper. My daughter and I discussed how disappointed we both felt upon finishing a mediocre mystery with teen angst.
The major problem my daughter and I had with Nine Liars is the endless teen drama between Stevie and David, the neverending will-they-or-won’t-they tension that makes up most of the novel. The murder mystery is merely background noise to Stevie’s anxiety over her relationship with David. Something is wrong when an eighteen-year-old girl in her long-distance relationship finds Stevie’s and David’s excruciating and unnecessary.
As for the mystery behind Nine Liars, even that was okay. It wasn’t necessarily clever. If it weren’t for all of her time and attention spent on David, the story’s resolution would be speedy. Stevie and her friends are in danger at no point in time. The lack of any suspense makes the whole thing a lackluster experience.
The one thing I enjoyed while reading Nine Liars was Ms. Johnson’s descriptions of London and the sites Stevie and her friends visit. Now, my daughter thought they were boring. I appreciated them because they were all areas Jim and I saw during our trip to London this fall. It was fun to finally read a novel set in London and know exactly what the author is talking about based on firsthand experience.
I may be unfairly harsh on Nine Liars because I have such high expectations for any of Maureen Johnson’s novels. Most of her stories are clever, quirky, and suspenseful, with a dry wit that I adore. I didn’t find any of that in Nine Liars, hence my disappointment. But it’s not just my disappointment here. My daughter feels the same way and is more of Ms. Johnson’s target audience than I am.