Book Review: The Last Time I Lied
5 out of 5 stars
Format: Book of The Month Club, Hardback
Genre: Adult Thriller/Mystery
"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. When Francesca, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, 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.
All is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, she digs deeper into cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. 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."
***CAUTION: HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD***
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I promise I read other books than the ones by Leigh Bardugo. But I have to give a giant shout-out to Book Of The Month Club for introducing me to this one. And a whole genre I’ve been ignoring. Apparently, I like thrillers! Who knew? I certainly didn’t until I was given a choice between my usual YA fantasy and something different. I’m so glad I challenged my reader-self and ordered this book in one of my monthly boxes.
While these books are only available during their featured months, you can easily snag a copy from your local library or shop a used bookstore for a copy. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, click here to sign up and GET A FREE BOOK!!
CHARACTERIZATION: I admit, I haven’t read any of Riley Sager’s books before now, so imagine my surprise when I found out Riley is a dude! The story is told from Emma’s first person POV, and it was spot on. I’m also a woman in her late twenties, and Emma’s voice felt like my own. There was never a moment I doubted her authentic experience, and as a fellow writer who’s tried writing from the opposite gender’s POV, that is challenging to say the least! It’s one thing to write a male’s POV for a female reader, or vice versa. But Sager showcased the rare gift of inhabiting the female experience in a believable, fully dimensional way. The other minor characters were wonderfully creepy, and I loved the constant guessing of who was the guilty party. I never would’ve guessed the ending, but once I knew, it fit so wonderfully with that character that I couldn’t imagine it going down any other way.
SETTING: I adore a good trope, so I wasn’t bothered by the all-female thriller set in a nearly-abandoned summer camp for girls. The concept has been done a few times with new takes, so it didn’t necessarily feel super fresh. However, I can’t think of any other setting this story could’ve taken place. The setting itself became its own character with each new artifact Emma uncovered about Camp Nightingale’s history. And he really threw us for a loop! It was all building up to the inevitable: the place was cursed, it had to do with an irresponsible asylum director from the 1800s and I was READY. And then… pleasantly surprised. Sager did a great job of pulling us along in Emma’s head by having her reactions be our reactions. Who wouldn’t assume it was the asylum’s fault??
STYLE: Seamless and well-paced. There was never a moment I felt bored or wanted to put the book down. It built to a great twist, and I was most impressed with Sager’s ability to capture the female voice in this first-person POV.
IF YOU LIKE THIS BOOK, YOU’LL LOVE: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough, One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus, Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (coming October 2018), Sharp Objects limited series on HBO.