If the Witness Lied, Review

13 Jul

If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

Plot: This book relies heavily on technology throughout the book. In the first chapter, Jack discusses “that television is a force in destroying his family,” and there are many more references to the negative effect being in the media spotlight has on Jack and Tris. However, Aunt Cheryl has a much different view of television, watching programs regularly with almost a religious zeal. Her adoration of television and media ultimately leads her to arrange for Tris to become the focus of a reality show. The interaction with the television crew serves as an immediate conflict for Jack, who struggles to protect Tris from further media exposure.

In addition to television, texting is also a featured technology, with Jack and his sisters Madison and Smithy using texts as their primary means of communication. Also crucial to the plot are the cell phone photographs retrieved from Jack’s deceased father’s cell phone, which reveals to Jack and Madison some important information about Aunt Cheryl. Finally, technology is used to help bring resolution to the story, when Jack’s grandparents arrive suddenly on the scene to help the children. Nonny says to Jack, “Darling, this isn’t the eighteenth century” showing that technology makes communication easy, despite the circumstances.

Would you recommend this book? Yes and no. I have read other books by Cooney, and have enjoyed them; however, If the Witness Lied was not one of her stronger books. I felt little connection to any of the protagonists, and Aunt Cheryl came across as a caricature rather than a true villain. The plot has entirely too many holes, and Cheryl’s involvement with the children would have never happened in real life. Technology is the only means to provide any sense of plausibility in this story. The computer records, recordings, and photographic evidence are provided so that the reader will say “this must have happened this way, because there is real evidence to prove it.” Cooney’s earlier thrillers and mysteries were written when digital technologies were either undeveloped or in its infancy, and those plots worked because of the lack of technology. Perhaps Cooney forced the use of technology into her plot too much in this book.

3 stars

–Lisa

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