A Soldier and a Liar
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 19th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In a world on the brink of war, four superpowered teens must learn to work together for peace in Caitlin Lochner’s action-packed debut novel, A Soldier and A Liar.
Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. As a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager who is feared and shunned by the ungifted, this skill is essential to survival. Orchestrating her own imprisonment to escape military duty has only honed her ability to deceive others. But when rebels start attacking the city, Lai is dragged back into the fight with a new team of Nytes.
Thrown together with Jay, a self-conscious perfectionist consumed by the desire to be accepted; Al, a short-tempered fighter lying for the sake of revenge; and Erik, an amnesiac hell-bent on finding his memories and his place in the world, Lai realizes she’s facing an entirely different kind of challenge–one that might just be impossible. But if this team can’t learn to work together, the entire sector will be plunged into war.
A Soldier and a Liar by Caitlin Lochner is a pretty good read. It’s a bit disturbing, as well. It’s pretty obviously young adult, as there isn’t a lot of graphic description of violence and the small bits of romance are definitely small. However, there’s the seemingly ever-present issue in dystopian novels that is the basis for the whole novel–Us vs. Them.
Lochner does a pretty good job of twisting the impact of nuclear fall-out to her own story. She introduces a fairly stnadard idea with small changes and details that make it new. The people live in domes, but there is a new generation of people who don’t need to. While the governments focus solely on the military applications of these people, there is another group that focuses on equality and peace. The whole thing is kind of ‘kumbaya’ and a bit over-sweet. Obviously, our MC belongs to the hippy-dippy crowd trying to create world peace. What’s not so obvious is that our MC is not a white knight. She’s more of a grey knight. And that makes her infinitely more likeable, in my eyes.
I think the biggest thing that tripped me up throughout the story is how difficult it is to guage ages. Obviously, all Nytes are teen or younger, but Team One usually comes off as much older. Given the ages at which they joined the military, that shouldn’t be so surprising. However, Lochner makes sure to intersperse little totally kid/teenager moments to remind the reader that Lai and pals are NOT 30+ years old, despite their demeanors when it comes to war and life. While occasionally, these moments shake the reader, most of the time, they serve their purpose. Not only are you supposed to feel outrage at the Nytes are treated as lesser, but Lochner sends little reminders out to play on the reader’s sense of humanity. Casual references to Lai’s previous service, references to their sexual inexperience, and moments where the characters are nothing BUT teenagers in attitude and bearing serve as harsh reminders that the world they live in is not our own–that this is not an UF, but a post-apocalyptic dystopian story of a group of people who just want to be people.
Lochner did a great job of portraying the disparities in the groups, but I would have much rather seen her show a bit more of the characters’ personal reactions. I feel like there should be quite a bit more outrage by the Nytes and on behalf of the Nytes. They’re the first Gen, and yet…it’s like this prejudice and segregation has been around for centuries. There’s a level of acceptance in the Nytes that just doesn’t add up to humanity and society in general.
Overall, the story was really good and I’m interested to see just how Lai and the gang are going to escape their fates…and what they’re going to do once they do that. There were definitely parts that drag and that made it harder to just sink into the story. A solid 4 stars.
(Um, so, wow bios are hard.) I studied creative writing at the University of South Florida and used my BA in words to become an English teaching assistant in Tokyo. I’m in love with storytelling of any kind, but especially in the form of books, manga, and video games. If you ever want to talk nerdy, I am VERY down.