Sunday, August 19, 2018

Book Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

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Review:
I was so excited to read The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. It had such an interesting synopsis, definitely one that piqued my interest. While this book didn't meet my expectations of it, it was still a fairly good read.

The pacing starts off painfully slow in The Last Time I Lied. I had to force myself to keep reading. I was so bored. Luckily, the pacing picks up around chapter 12 or thereabouts. Each chapter is more fast paced than the previous one.

The plot was definitely interesting even if it does take awhile to really get going. I found myself sucked into the mystery of what happened to Vivian, Allison, and Natalie. I couldn't get enough of the story. The Last Time I Lied had quite a few plot twists that I didn't see coming! Every time I thought I had figured out who the guilty party was, I was proved wrong. Saying all that, I definitely felt like some of my questions weren't answered especially one at the end involving Emma. I don't want to say what it is because it would give away a spoiler. I also don't understand why a certain area wasn't searched and why a certain character didn't retrace their steps when the girls went missing. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away any spoilers. Also, the ending felt a little rushed to me, and I didn't like how the author uses "you" to describe what is actually happening to Emma. He does this in two chapters only, thankfully.

The world building was done almost perfectly. I did feel like I was in camp with Emma. I felt like I was experiencing everything Emma did. Riley Sager, the author, did a fantastic job of setting up everything with his wonderful descriptions and what not. The only problem is that the dialogue makes this book sounds more like a young adult novel rather than an adult novel. During my whole time reading The Last Time I Lied, it was hard to picture all the adult characters as adults. The way they spoke and acted reminded me of the way a bunch of teenagers would act. One other thing that took away from the world building being perfect was that I had a hard time believing the main culprit could have gotten away with the crime for so long without being discovered. Again, I can't say too much because of spoilers.

I enjoyed the characters in The Last Time I Lied. I empathized with Emma. I admired her bravery, and I could definitely relate to her sense of wanting to fit in especially with the older girls. However, even though Emma was supposed to be 28 in the book, she came across as sounding like she was about 16. The rest of the grown up characters, with the exception of Franny and Ben, also reminded me of a bunch of 16 year olds. Saying that, I did enjoy all the characters, and while they did sound younger than their actual age, I thought they were fleshed out well enough. Two of my other favorite characters were Vivian and Miranda. There was just something about them that I enjoyed reading about. One character I thought was pointless was Mindy. She's not important to the story, and I just felt like the book could have done without her.

There are scenes of violence, swearing, a sex scene (although not graphic), alcohol use (of age and underage), smoking, and mental illness is mentioned a few times.

Overall, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager is a good read. The plot is interesting enough, and the characters are fun. However, there were a few things that kept this from being a great read such as the characters not acting like their age and some unanswered questions. The ending also lets the book down a little. However, I would recommend The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager to others.
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