Liars and Amnesiacs – 6 Books With UnReliable Narrators

One of my favorite types of books to read involves an unreliable narrator. I just don’t know what’s true or not, or even if the narrator knows. The slow reveal is AGONY but I love it. Here are 5 of my favorite novels that involve unreliable narrators.

Liar, Justine Larbalesteir

Micah, the main character tells us right upfront that she’s a pathological liar, and little she says can be believed. But I couldn’t help myself – I did start to believe what she was saying as the story progressed. And what makes it worse – she lies all the time, so at the end of the book, I still don’t know if what she said is for real or not.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

In this case, it’s alcohol induced memory loss that’s making this Rachel a bit fuzzy on the details of her life. She’s not the most sympathetic main character, as she is bumbling and brings a lot of things on herself – but that’s what draws you into the book. I never quite knew when I was rooting for her or against her.

Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson

What if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story … ooh the slow reveal of this book is what I loved the most.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler

Memory is a funny, funny thing. Sometimes we choose to forget. And Rosemary Cooke starts out by telling us that she doesn’t remember all the details. But they start coming back to her as she tells the story.

The Expats, Chris Pavone

What happens when both people in the marriage are lying and keeping secrets?! Kate is basically living a lie every day, and then her husband starts doing it too – “what the heck is going on” is what I kept asking myself while reading this book.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

This is another book where the liar is not obvious, but both parties in the marriage are telling completely different stories. It’s weird that both the narrators are quite unlikeable and yet I still loved this book.

Do you have any books you would add to this list? Have you read any of the books mentioned?

(Photo Credit)


// Comments //

  1. Jade

    Jun 11

    I’ve only read Gone Girl out of your list. I hate narrators who are liars as well. But somehow the author made it work to where I loved the book. I left the book feeling like those two deserved each other.

  2. Catherine

    Jun 10

    I’ve read Completely Beside Ourselves and Girl on Train- which I did not like as much because it feels like cheating to me when the unreliability comes from alcoholism. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the fact that she was blacking out drunk made it too easy to discount her.

    You should try The Headmaster’s Wife- it is not only extreme unreliable narrator but has twist after twist. I absolutely loved it. Plus, it a quick read- perfect for summer!

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jun 13

      @Catherine – thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  3. I LOVE Unreliable Narrators! I’ve read three of these and loved two of them. So I have to check out the others. Thanks!

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jun 09

      @ Heather – awesome! I hope you get to read the rest. I’m on the hunt for even more of these types of reads this year.

  4. I finished The Girl on the Train not too long ago now and loved the unrealiability of the narrator (despite some reviewers disliking that aspect) so this round up is a great list of other books to look out for now. I have read Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep already though.

    Great list!

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jun 09

      @Jade – I liked her unreliability too (in The Girl on the Train).

  5. Oooh… great list! Before I Go To Sleep is one of my favorites! I liked it much better than Gone Girl which came out at the same time but got all the hype (ditto for the movie). Also loved Girl on the Train – I was definitely rooting for the main character – she was out of control but underneath it a decent person – I wanted her to get her life together – can’t wait for the movie this year!

    I have The Expats on my Kindle but haven’t gotten to it yet – need to move it up the list!
    And I have been wanting to read the Karen Joy Fowler for a while – thanks for reminding me!


    2016 Big Book Summer Challenge

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jun 09

      @Sue – yay – glad you read most of these and loved them too 🙂

  6. Great round up. I’ve read two of these, Before I Go to Sleep and Gone Girl. The Amnesiacs is an interesting concept, but I’m so not a fan of the liars heh.

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jun 09

      @Julie – I’m not a fan of liars either 🙂 But they make for interesting characters in books!