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A Soldier and a Liar

Review

A Soldier and a Liar

Caitlin Lochner’s debut novel, A SOLDIER AND A LIAR, spins a thrilling story shrouded in suspenseful mystery. Humanity lives in domed cities, sheltered from the toxic, post-apocalyptic world outside. The cities, called Sectors, are governed by High Councils and protected by the military. Strangely and without warning, two decades ago, children with superpowers, or Nytes, began arising in the Sectors. Fearing the capabilities of Nytes the non-superpowered majority, or Etioles, began to establish harsh regimens against Nytes in order to keep them in check. In Sector Eight, part of this regimen requires Nytes to join the military. But the harsh treatment of Nytes isn’t settling well with everyone. There is a dangerous rebellion brewing --- for over two years, Nytes have been gathering in the condemned zones outside the Sectors, threatening to wipe out all Etiole life for society’s wrongs against Nytes.

"A SOLDIER AND A LIAR is set up like a chess match....Every seemingly small detail is important to the story, brought together in the final moments in a well-written crescendo."

After two and a half years in prison, Lai Cathwell is hesitant to rejoin the military. As a Nyte, she is discriminated against and universally hated; she has more freedom behind bars, from where she can easily sneak out at night, than under the watchful eyes of Sector Eight’s High Council. When an old military friend comes asking for her help, however, in assembling an all Nyte team to fight against the rebels, Lai finds herself allied with three other Nytes: Jay, Al and Erik. At first, things are pretty rocky --- none of her teammates seem able to get along...or want to. Jay, shouldered with the role of leader, just wants the team to work. Al is riddled with temperamental issues and disrespect for other team members. Erik simply outright refuses to comply with the team. But despite their differences and their issues, their team slowly comes together as they are thrown out into the battlefield. They’ll have to be united if they’re to face what’s coming.

A SOLDIER AND A LIAR is set up like a chess match, every character acting as a piece of the larger puzzle. I could not help but continue reading, curiosity pulling me through the story’s carefully constructed tale as each character’s secrets slowly became unraveled. Every seemingly small detail is important to the story, brought together in the final moments in a well-written crescendo.

I greatly enjoyed the characters; they are what I believe brought Lochner’s story to life. Lai is secretive, deceptive and cunning. Her past is what shapes the story, and her actions ripple into tidal waves, affecting the entire team. Jay is the team’s socially-anxious, perfectionist leader. Ironically, his need to be accepted alienates him from the people he wants to connect to. Al is a revenge-driven, hot-head who doesn’t get along well with other people. It doesn’t matter who is burned if Al can obtain revenge. Erik is an amnesiac and compulsive liar who doesn’t trust anyone. To him, the team isn’t even a concern. Each character is extremely different, their different personalities are iconic and unique.

What I particularly liked, however, was not how Lochner described the individual characters, but rather how she depicted their relationships. In the beginning, none of them are able to understand or work with one another; there is too much tension, too much distrust. But that makes sense; in a world where everyone hates you, it’s hard to find people willing to work beside you. As the story develops, though, so do the characters. Gradually, the four of them click together. Bit by bit, Lai, Jay, Al and Erik become what the common narrative expects of heroes not because of their individual qualities, but because of their cohesiveness.

I found the story slow in the beginning. The first chapter starts in the middle of something exciting, but afterward, it takes a while for the ball to get rolling. The story focuses on introducing and developing several characters at once, then building relationships between them. While I loved what came out of this development stage, it was slightly boring to read through at first. It does eventually pick up, and when it does the book becomes hard to put down.

I recommend A SOLDIER AND A LIAR to you if you like action, drama and conflict. An insane telling, the book is a phenomenal read filled with electrifying plot twists and suspenseful moments. Be prepared to get hooked --- you’re in for a thrilling read.

Reviewed by Claire O., Teen Board Member on February 27, 2019

A Soldier and a Liar
by Caitlin Lochner