A review by whenjessreads
Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

dark funny medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


It was initially difficult to tell what genre Liar, Dreamer, Thief fit into - was it literary fiction? Magical realism? A thriller? Some sort of contemporary take on the difficulties of trying to live an average life when your mind is anything but average? Maybe all of the above.

I’ll give you a super brief run down: the MC is a queer Korean-American train-wreck of a human being, who is lightly stalking someone she works with… until she watches him jump off a bridge (while blaming it on her), and has to put aside her rituals and obsessions that keep her safe in order to figure out just what the f*** is going on. Oh, and also attempt to keep her head in the real world, instead of the children’s-book-Korean-fantasy-land that she occasionally lives in. Yup.

I adore books that blur the line between reality and fantasy, and I love that this book did so through the lens of mental illness and an unreliable narrator. Not knowing whether the mystery was real or imagined was something that definitely kept me going.

I also really enjoy reading first person narration when the MC has a psyche like a bowl of noodles. (Maybe it just feels more familiar 😂)

One personal issue - I just think I’ve read a few too many books over the past few years with the formula “average girl sees something bad happen and automatically becomes a questionably amateur detective”, otherwise I might have rated this one higher. I also think the pacing was off in places, and the bad guy was a little one-dimensional. 

Honestly though, the MC was so messy and complex that I enjoyed this book anyway - and probably would have enjoyed it even without the mystery aspect.

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