Maria Dong’s debut novel, Liar, Dreamer, Thief is a weird and thrilling modern mystery story, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the mind-bending conclusion.
Our protagonist Katrina has a lot of issues. She has been disowned by her parents, is frequently late to a job she hates, displays OCD tendencies, and is stalking one of her mysterious co-workers, Kurt. And she sometimes slips into an alternate reality based on a book she read as a child. I love her.
Katrina starts to find clues that Kurt is aware of her too, and she finds weird clues that lead her to think that her and Kurt have some kind of mystic connection. However, when Katrina’s investigations lead to her witnessing Kurt’s suicide, things really kick into high gear.
I became aware of Maria Dong last year, when I had the pleasure of reading her short story, The Frankly Impossible Weight of Han. Han is an emotional state of grief or sadness due to the oppression one’s race has historically experienced, and is considered by some to be an essential element of Korean identity (thanks, Wikipedia). Dong revisits this theme in Liar, Dreamer, Thief, but there is a sense of conflict between her Korean heritage and her American life.
The thing I loved about Liar, Dreamer, Thief is that it is a genuinely compelling book. Katrina is a wonderfully flawed character; I wanted to stay with her on this mad, dangerous chase to find the truth about Kurt. Given Katrina’s tendencies to slip into another world, the reader is constantly questioning what is real and what is in Katrina’s head.
No spoilers, but things come together at breakneck speed, and conscientious readers are rewarded.
Liar, Dreamer, Thief is out NOW! Thanks to Grand Central for the ARC.
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