Intense! Gripping! Dramatic! Eerie! Thrilling! Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager is an insanely incredible book which I have absolutely adored reading. With a Pretty Little Liars (TV show) tone mingled with the eeriness of campfire ghost stories, this is genuinely one of my favourite books of all time! Keeping you guessing until the very end, with red herrings at every turn and an unreliable narrator, fans of Gone Girl and Need to Know will devour this book. Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published on 10 July, 2018 by Ebury Press.
Emma attended a summer camp 15 years ago when her fellow cabin-mates vanished and never came back. The police searched endlessly but their bodies were never found. Now, 15 years later, Emma is invited to teach art for the summer as Camp Nightingale reopens its gates. She returns reluctantly, but set on discovering what happened to her friends all those years ago. However, embarking down this dark path will bring up guilt, accusations and issues since recovered from. Back in her Dogwood cabin, Emma knows what she must do and sets about to prove her own innocence as well as the innocence of those who run the camp.
Why this is a stellar book
Riley Sager has created a story which I am genuinely scared of, which is difficult to do. I’ve never been to a summer camp, nor have I had friends disappear, so for something so fictional to frighten me is an accomplishment in itself. Last Time I Lied does what Pretty Little Liars did so well for so long, in that it throws you off-course, takes you down a path happily without you even realising just what is being kept from you all along. As you near the end of the book, each revelation makes more and more sense until you finally have the complete picture. Or do you?
I have to say that I love an unreliable narrator. With Emma’s mental health problems, I really have no idea how far she can really be trusted, even now. I am not sure if the ending that I have just read is the truth or a lie. With a common theme of the book being deception, particularly as Emma refers to it, using the truth to make people believe you’re lying, the reader can never fully know if Emma is telling the truth, or if we are just seeing it through her perspective, which could be completely skewed. The childhood game incorporated, two truths and a lie, is an excellent narrative device which kept me hooked. I love the riddles entangled in that game, as it kept me clawing for more truths in amongst the lies.
The plot is great fun, particularly if you’re a fan of crime novels with lots of twists and red herrings, as it really does take you on a journey. If you guess the ending (and I mean the complete ending), then it will be a guess, as this storyline is not predictable in the least. I really enjoyed reading along with the fast pace of this plot, especially as it sped up toward the end. I liked seeing the different timelines; Emma joining the camp as a thirteen year-old, sucking up to Vivian compared with Emma of the present day returning so that she can stop thinking about Vivian.
The characters in this book do appear to be a bit one-dimensional at first, but by the end, you see who they really are and what their true intentions are, making them much more multi-faceted. I liked the slow build-up, the way that Sager casually and flawlessly drops clues throughout. His writing style is honestly beautiful, and I did not notice a struggle in the narrative or with writing from the perspective of young girls and women. I loved Vivian, Emma, Theo and Lottie. I thought that they were written with real care and, although I can’t get it out of my head that Vivian is to this book what Alison was to PLL, I do think that rather unique characters emerge from this plot.
Overall, it is brilliant. I would recommend to anyone with a pulse who has the ability to pick up a book and read it, listen to the audiobook (if there is one), and watch the upcoming TV series of it. Thank you so much to Ebury for my proof copy of Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager in exchange for an honest review!