[Book Review] Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath

Title: Liars and Losers Like Us
Author: Ami Allen-Vath
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Favorite Quote: I can’t give the whole thing because it’s the best part of the book, basically, but “…I’m dancing too, and this time, no one is laughing.”
Rating: 3.5 stars

Overview:

Trigger warning for this book that sadly couldn’t be included at the beginning: suicide, abuse, some ideation/imaginations of death regarding suicide, depression, anxiety.

-Witty
-Great character development, connections, and depths to what are usually boring high school character tropes
-Hidden, unexpected, developed queer characters is always a plus, especially when the opportunity is taken to normalize queerness in teenagers and show they can be normal teenagers who are successful in high school and have the same basic concerns as any other teenager. Amazing the way Ami pulled that off!
-Unnecessary conflicts that don’t mesh well with the plot.
-Suicide jokes not denounced ON THE PAGE which was confusing to the MC’s values/actions. Potentially sends bad message also confusing, triggering, and hurtful.
-Liked spotting names of author’s friends and family that were used. Like Easter Egg hunting. Not mentioned in overall review.

Review:

This book can be summed up in some intense EDM and some pan smashing and an excellent, electric flash mob dance routine. That’s what I associate with this book. I’ll admit, despite the synopsis, I picked up this book expecting it to be a fluffy, shallow pick me up read. What do I mean by that? You know, something that doesn’t really go in depth or focusing on the real issues. And I was wrong, it was more than that. Liars and Losers Like Us takes the typical high school romance setting and trope and gives it some much needed depth.

The popular girls aren’t just shallow popular girls that rule the school. They are girls with real issues and real problems. I really liked how Bree had anxiety throughout this novel and had issues with her parents divorcing but also functioned as a relatively normal, somewhat popular high school student as it gives depth to the traditional cookie cutter popular girls that are usually expected in YA.

How Ami went in depth with Jane, the high school drama queen/bully’s issues as well as well as the bullied, Maisey. And, of course, the problems with the other characters in the popular crew. I’m not going to go in depth with the characters, per sé, but I really feel the development of the characters and the addition of their personal problems was an excellent twist that I hope more authors follow through on should they write trope-y high school characters. It was honestly an incisive move and I was impressed that my assumptions of the anticipated LALLU on my TBR were wrong. Along with what some might constitute as shallow concerns, the characters did focus on deeper issues and I think that manages to encapsulate the existence of today’s high school students more than how it is normally done.

To continue on with what I liked, I liked how some queer characters were slid in. That was a delightful surprise and certainly unexpected. I’m not exactly reading proud but writing proud this year, and I pumped my fist in the air as soon as the first secondary queer character was introduced. I cherished the scenes where they were present. I like how Sam’s sexuality is just integrated as an everyday and same with Brian, who actually is pretty active in school and successful whilst also dramatically even having a *college boyfriend*. You’ll understand why I just emphasized that when you read. Anyway, it made me happy to see even secondary characters respected and shown to have actual lives and be normal teens because that’s what they are. I also found this book to be quite witty and funny and smiled a lot for that reason. I really fell in love with these characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel.

What did I not like? [incoming spoilers] The suicide jokes. That was honestly really triggering for me. I understand that the point of this book is that these characters aren’t perfect but I found it sickening that there were suicide jokes made amidst the characters saying it was terrible Maisey died. It’s disgusting and inconsistent. It was worse that it wasn’t denounced on the page. It was weird that Bree said that how the students reacted to Maisey’s death was atrocious and denounced it publicly by the end of the novel but when her friend’s are casually making suicide jokes, she couldn’t bother to stop them even as she was making strides to be kinder and to keep them from being cruel. She couldn’t even denounce in her head, at least. I think this could send a wrong message to readers. Yes, be compassionate and kind, but as you’re a work in progress, don’t stand up when people are making SUICIDE JOKES AND TELLING PEOPLE TO KILL THEMSELVES RIGHT AFTER AN *ACTUAL* SUICIDE? It really hurt and bothered me and it’s why the star value for this book decreased for me. Also, I found it annoying when Kallie and Bree took chapters to reconcile their friendship along with the Sean conflict. Although it was sweet and I was smiling and cheering when it was resolved, I found it annoying and unnecessary.

Would I recommend this book to you? Definitely! Read it! Learn and be more compassionate to the people around you. We’re all messed up in one way or another.

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