When I was in middle school I read, or I guess devoured might be a more accurate term, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. At the time, I thought it was the greatest book ever in my preteen life. It solidified my hope to become an author; if only so that I could write something as masterful as that novel.
Flash forward a couple years later to when I found out about the booktube/goodreads/bookstagram community. I quickly discovered that We Were Liars wasn’t beloved by everyone. At the time, it felt like a blow to my heart. I started doubting whether I ever really liked the book. After all, hadn’t I grown as a reader after all these years? Maybe my tastes were more refined?
When I found out about Genuine Fraud I thought, “This is it! This is my chance at redemption.” I thought that if I read a new YA mystery novel by the same author, then I’d be able to find out if We Were Liars was actually any good. You might be wondering why I haven’t just reread We Were Liars instead? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. The point is I decided to follow this faulty logic, but was still hesitant to buy Genuine Fraud, so I put it off for a year. Then, when I finally had the courage to buy it in the summer of 2018, it sat on my shelf gathering dust for six months. If it hadn’t been one of my TBR jar picks of the month I might’ve never picked it up.
All of this lengthy backstory is to say: no one wanted this novel to succeed more than me. I’d read the negative reviews, yet I still hoped they’d all been mistaken. I’m here to say that they weren’t. Quite frankly, Genuine Fraud was a dragged out snooze fest. It’s told from present to past, which is a disservice to the plot since there’s no real “mystery” to be solved, nor was there ever any suspense built. The enjoyment factor of reading was completely taken out of the equation as result of being confused if not bored for the entirety of the novel.
Additionally, I found the characters irritating. If you liked Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, then you might have better luck than me. Like said book, I found the characters in Genuine Fraud flat with dialogue that felt stilted and foreign to teen language. Not only that, I found them unbearably pretentious. Unfortunately, I’m the type of reader that needs to care somewhat about the characters in order for me to care about the plot progression. Since I cared for none of them I didn’t care if they died, lived, succeeded, failed, etc.
Lastly, I found the plot ridiculous at worst and predictable at best. In order to believe in the story you also have to nod along to a plethora of scenarios and archetypes that just don’t exist in the real world. No mother would take the actions Imogen’s mom did, and honestly this kid just has 8 million dollars lying around and no security or sense of self preservation? I’m sorry…but no.