I recently read We Were Liars, by e.lockhart, and I thought it really interesting, so I endeavoured to keep an eye out for other e.lockhart books through the library but I didn’t want to actively seek them. More of a: if it comes across my path I’m interested. I was mooching around the library shelves a few weeks ago, and came across Genuine Fraud.
First thing I have to comment on is that the back of the hardback is “praise for We Were Liars“, rather than praise for Genuine Fraud which made me a little wary. The worth of this entire author seems to hinge on We Were Liars, rather than on each individual book. I’ll be honest, when I look at a backboard, I am looking for the blurb, and I really couldn’t care less about recommendations. Nevertheless, I picked it up, and it’s been on my shelf for about three weeks now because it’s been crazy busy, and I’ve been ill, and the universe has been conspiring against my reading time.
I’m not sure how to summarise this book, so I’ve lifted the enigmatic blurb from Amazon:
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
It boils down to whether there is a difference between the truth, and the lies we tell ourselves and others.
This story starts at the end. It works backwards in stages, in meetings, in events. It’s about how bad people don’t always get their just desserts. It’s about obsession, and friendship, and identity. It’s hard to get into, and it’s difficult to work out if the end is entirely satisfactory – but what it definitely is, is a masterful narrative. It’s filled with suspense and questions that might not have answers, and horrible people. It is confusing at times, and things don’t always make sense, but you can’t say it wasn’t well written, even if “happily ever after” is a bit beyond reach.
Because the story is told backwards, you never quite know what is coming. The story starts with Jules in a hotel, wary of being followed and paranoid about everything. And it keeps jumping back from there. How did she get there? What happened? Where is Imogen? It’s a genius construction – and I don’t want to give any spoilers. I’d recommend reading in one go if possible, to try and keep everything super fresh in your mind. When something happens in the past, it’s like a little lightbulb goes on as to how Jules acted in the present (first chapter). It’s intense. I recommend.
As good as it was, I couldn’t help but feel that it was unfinished – that there was more to tell. Perhaps that is how we are supposed to feel, because it doesn’t exactly end. It just stops. I’m not sure if there was potential for something truly excellent hiding in the pages of this very good book – but it felt a little like it had been taken out of the oven at cooked, but not perfectly-impress-Paul-Hollywood cooked. It was a perfectly good book and I recommend it, but I can’t help but wonder if it could have been a little more. not that I could tell you how I think it could have been improved…
Have you read Genuine Fraud? Did you like it or loathe it or feel that it had the potential for more?