Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes Review: Diverse & light thriller

May 4, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes Review: Diverse & light thrillerLiars, Inc by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperCollins on March 24, 2015
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
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Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Liars, Inc. is one of the more diverse YA thrillers and romances that I’ve read in a while. Although it offered a lot of diverse character backgrounds, family situations and circumstances, it was the thriller part that I was really interested in, which I ended up being slightly disappointed with.

It kind of sucks having nothing to lose, but it sucks even worse having everything good taken away from you. Or to realize it was never yours in the first place. 

What I did like about Liars, Inc: 

  • Pavarti is a beautiful black girl who is wild and liberal. She’s flirty, forward, and not afraid to take the first step when it comes to sex. She actually reminds me a lot about a friend of mine, and it was great seeing a diverse character being represented as the primary love interest. I definitely didn’t agree with some of her decisions, but overall she was different and it was refreshing to see.
  • Aside from Pavarti, I liked the diverse range of families being represented as well, with Max and his siblings being adopted. His relationship with his parents definitely wasn’t perfect, but with his regrets, wishes and feelings on the matter, it felt realistic.
  • I liked how Max and his friends weren’t stereotypes, and they had a lot of depth. They were popular, smart, and liked to have fun, but they bonded together because of their mutual feeling of being an outsider.

“Your past made you resilient so you don’t fall apart in a crisis. I like that.” – Pavarti

What I didn’t like about Liars, Inc: 

  • I didn’t like Max’s point of view. As with any teenage boy, he often thinks about sex and how hot his girlfriend is….and he seems kind of dense.
  • Max’s decisions didn’t make sense. Why would you run away and hide from the cops, acting incredibly suspicious if you’re a suspect in your friends murder? Why would you not contact the cops, or FBI if you received a suspicious call directing you to do something? I know he was threatened, but he didn’t take any other safety precautions.
  • I couldn’t understand how Max and Pavarti’s relationship could withstand the secrets they went through, especially since she was really evasive about some things when confronted. How could Max trust her after that? Secrets, upon secrets. But hey, that’s just me.
  • The thriller part was predictable and I saw it coming from a mile away, such as the identity of the killer and about their past.

It’s a shitty feeling when you realize the two people you trusted most in the world are liars. 


For a mystery thriller book, I found Liars, Inc. to be a lite version, primarily being about family, friends and romance. Although the plot was fairly predictable and I didn’t get the thrills I was looking for, I really appreciated the diversity in the story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


I received a review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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49 responses to “Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes Review: Diverse & light thriller

  1. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Sorry you didn't like this one as much as I did, Jeann. I agree Max was kind of stupid in regards to how to handle things, lol. But I couldn't predict it at all (at least not until the last chapters!), now I wonder how good I actually am at guessing things, lol.

  2. I've seen a lot of positive and pretty-positive reviews for this book, but I still don't know if I will read it! Like, I am quite interested in the premise, but then there's something about it that just doesn't make me think that I will ever go: Oh yeah, I want to read LIARS, INC right now. I know that's cruel because I don't even have a reason but I guess I am just like that when it comes to books.

    I do like the diversity that seems to be pretty big in this book, but it's a shame about the predictable plot twist/thriller aspect D:

    Lovely review, Jeann <3
    My recent post Books for Mail + Simply Sunday (#19)

    • Yeah, I mean we've all been calling out for diversity so it was good to see that here if anything. No problems Chiara!

  3. Ohhh Max, he seems like the typical teen boy. Do they think about anything other than sex or food? Probably not. I think we've come to expect smarter and more sassy characters in YA, that when a 'normal' teen comes along, we're disappointed. It sounds like mild suspense at best sadly. A few years ago, we probably would have enjoyed something like Liars Inc, but books like Dangerous Girls have ruined us for all YA thrillers. Not many are living up to that type of premise and execution. Sorry you couldn't haven't enjoyed this more Jeann, but brilliant review nonetheless <3
    My recent post Smoking Hot… A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

    • Oh yeah, that's probably why I don't really enjoy a lot of male perspectives, especially in contemporary. Thank you Kelly! I totally agree with DG, every other thriller pales in comparison.

  4. Zoe

    YES. It's like you completely took the words out of my mouth Jeann. While this might not have been the most complex or mind-blowing thriller out there, it is still entertaining and "light"; and I loved the diversity here. It would have been nice if it was a bit more unpredictable or if Max's decisions weren't as rash, but I'm glad we both enjoyed it regardless of that. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3
    My recent post Vanishing Girls

  5. The diversity in this book as well as the relationships were definitely my favorite aspects of this book. <3

    Your complaints definitely made sense as well. Max didn't make the best choices, but I feel like I would've gone crazy and done the same if I was in his position. And while the romance was pretty nuts, I couldn't help but ship them so hard. ._.

    Sorry you didn't like this as much as I did! D: Lovely review though!
    My recent post Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

    • The diversity was wonderful! But yeah, some of what Max did just didn't make sense. Thanks Aimee!

  6. I agree that some of Max's decisions did not make a lot of sense, but this is YA and I've sort of come to expect that. I liked this one a little more than you did, but I agree with you on the diversity. It was really awesome to see. Oh hey, I don't think Parvati was black (African American, which is what I'm guessing you thought she was). I'm pretty sure she was Indian.
    Lovely review, Jeann!
    My recent post Review : Until the Beginning by Amy Plum

    • I totally know what you mean Nick, sometimes we have to suspend our disbelief hehe. Thanks for pointing that out, I'll have to correct it in my review!

  7. I had much better luck with this book that you did but I totally agree with you on some things you said.

    I ended up being on board with their relationship in the end but for a good chunk of the book, I was definitely not on team Parvati and Max. Their romance was a little awkward and I always found Parvati to be fishy so I was not surprised by all the lies she had been keeping.

    With the 'twist' I saw it coming but it was more of a 'wouldn't that be funny if that happened?' and it did and it made me happy that it did 😛 I just like the craziness of the twist. 😛

    I am glad that even though this novel was a let down for you, you were able to enjoy some aspects of it.

    Fantastic review, Hon <3

    *high fives*
    My recent post Review: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision

    • Yeah, Parvati was very mistrustful and Max seemed to be totally enamoured with her. Hahah you guessed the twist, good on you hun! HAPPY STAR WARS DAY

    • Yeah, I'm glad I gave it a go Benish 🙂 I want more thrillers like Dangerous Girls or Gone Girl lol!

  8. LilysBookBlog

    I don't read much mystery in YA but i'm not too surprised this one was a bit predictable since Paula Stoke's prevouis book was too. That being said, i think this one was more for the themes than the mystery, if that makes sense? At least it's what i'm getting from many different reviews.

    • Ah fair enough, I've heard great things about her previous book! Yeah, I think people love the diversity here not really expecting a fantastic mystery.

  9. Faye M.

    I'm in the same boat as you regarding this one, Jeanne! I loved the diversity and maybe I loved the narration a bit more than you did, but I agree that many of their decisions didn't make much sense… and why they made them as well. And yes, the twist was quite predictable. It would have been better if he didn't go on a the usual "I'm the villain and I'll tell you why" speech. I mean if you're going to kill somebody, why would you bother boring them with monologues? XD
    My recent post Review: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision

    • Ah, glad to hear it wasn't only me Faye! The twist was pretty predictable because he had already started launching into a monologue beforehand lol

  10. novelinkchristy

    I wasn't really sold on Max's POV either, like you said it, he thought a lot about sex and his hot girlfriend. I also couldn't understand a lot of the things that he done. I think he should have been upfront about a lot of things from the beginning. Great review!
    My recent post Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

  11. keionda

    I've actually never read a thriller before(I know, I know. Such a shame) and that's awesome that's there's diversity in this books. Hopefully in the future there will be more. And that predictable plot…. *hangs head sadly* It's a shame it was so predictable.
    My recent post He is just so… Gah! Arrogant. And I WANT HIM!

  12. I am not big on YA mystery genre. I could have been persuaded to change my mind, but since you weren’t wowed by it, I think I will pass in this case. Great review, Jeann!
    My recent post BLURB LOVE #3

  13. AGH. SO SAD IT WASN'T INCREDIBLE. I'm still definitely going to read it though, because I love crimey books. Also: yay for diversity!! I can't wait for the day when it's normal to read diverse books. xD But, um, yeah, Max sounds kind of uninteresting. *gulps*

  14. Francoise

    I've never heard about this novel before! It kind of sucks that you're looking for a thriller and it didn't really follow through and instead gave you something predictable. I like how it has an emphasis on friends and family which is good because I feel like most YA is all about the romance.

    Is it just me or is it hard to read in a boys perspective? For me it has to be really well done for me to engage with it.

    If I got a suspicious call the cops would be my first bet. It confuses me how teenagers in these sort of books get away with so much. I for one know I'd be caught out straight away by my mum. This sort of reminds me of PLL in the police aspect.

    Great review!
    My recent post A Court of Thorns and Roses

    • Yeah, I don't know about how a guy actually thinks but I guess even teenage guys point of views would be harder. EXACTLY with the PLL – why have they not gone to the cops like ever? I find the whole "cos they're corrupt" thing to be such a piss poor excuse.

  15. Kara Terzis

    Oh, what a shame about this being so predictable. That's definitely a make-or-break element of a thriller; if the twists are predictable, then I find I'm less likely to enjoy the book as a whole. On the other hand I love the sound of how diverse the characters sound. I can definitely see myself reading this in the future! Lovely, balanced review, Jeann. 🙂
    My recent post Talon || A Unique Concept, but a Tired Execution (And Hey, It’s Julie Kagawa So I Enjoyed It — Plus, DRAGONS!)

    • Yeah, that's exactly right, I mean I'm here to be thrilled, not to know what's going on lol. Glad to hear you love the sound of it Kara, the diversity was good 🙂

  16. Kara Terzis

    Oh, what a shame about this being so predictable. That's definitely a make-or-break element of a thriller; if the twists are predictable, then I find I'm less likely to enjoy the book as a whole. On the other hand I love the sound of how diverse the characters sound. I can definitely see myself reading this in the future! Lovely, balanced review, Jeann. 🙂
    My recent post Talon || A Unique Concept, but a Tired Execution (And Hey, It’s Julie Kagawa So I Enjoyed It — Plus, DRAGONS!)