If you guessed that the last one was a lie then you’re even smarter than I thought, readers. Just kidding – that was a dead giveaway. Why would I waste time writing a full-length review for a book I didn’t absolutely LOVE?! I wouldn’t. But I’m kind of obsessed with The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, and I want you to get obsessed too. Here’s why you’ll love it.
Summer Reading, Had Me a Blast
Summer reading can go one of two ways: you read a book a day and double that amount when you’re on vacation trying to avoid your family as you stay together in a tiny house that smells like the 15 families who have stayed there before you this month alone, or you can’t read anything at all and the 3 books you do end up reading take you the entire summer.
I was in the latter category until I picked up The Last Time I Lied. Everything I was reading was just…ok. I’m usually someone who can pick up a book and put it down the same day because I breezed through it so quickly. Not this summer. It was taking me weeks to finish anything – so long that I would kind of forget how the book started. So beyond the fact this book is un-put-down-able, it also broke my reading slump. Thank you, Riley Sager.
So what’s it about? Ok, three paragraphs in I’ll finally tell you.
After 15 years away, Emma is returning the Camp Nightingale, where she spent the summer of her 13th year. Why did it take her so long to come back? Well, that first summer was pretty disastrous. Out of the four girls in her cabin, she’s the only one who made it through the summer. Vivian, Natalie, and Allison – older girls who Emma idolized, disappeared in the night with no evidence left to find them. And it’s haunted Emma ever since.
So when she’s asked by the camp’s wealthy owner Franny Harris-White to return, she’s not too enthused. Return to the site of the worst thing that’s ever happened to her? Yeah, I wouldn’t be knocking down any doors to get there. But as it always does, curiosity gets the best of Emma, and she returns as an instructor rather than a camper, hoping she can finally solve the mystery of where these girls who have stayed in her thoughts for all these years have gone. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t go great.
Why The Last Time I Lied will have you on the edge of your seat
The setting is summer memories. Ah, summer camp. A time for arts and crafts, camp crushes and embarrassing yourself trying to be athletic in front of a bunch of kids your barely know and desperately want to like you. Camp Nightingale is the perfect setting for a summer read. If it doesn’t bring back memories of your summer camp experience, then you probably went on fun vacations and visited your cool aunt in France while my chubby bum spent a week at 4H camp playing icebreaker games while trying to play it cool about my crush on a kid named Zander. Which was the coolest name back in 2004. Now he’s a dime a dozen.
I love an unreliable narrator. I’ve already talked about my love of suspenseful books, and one of the best tropes of the genre is knowing that you can’t trust anyone, let alone your narrator. Emma is kind of all over the place. I really liked her, but you can’t help but have a niggling sensation in the back of your mind that she might be a little…off. At the same time, you want her to be innocent. You’ll feel a lot of feelings in general about this book.
Time Jump or bust. The plot jumps between Emma’s current day camp experience, and her summer 15 years ago. The story unfolds slowly, each change in time giving the reader clues about what happened then, and maybe helping to solve what’s happening now. The gratification you’ll feel when it all comes together at the end is perfect.
That ending though! While reading the last 50 pages I couldn’t stop gasping. No for real, I said “uh-oh” like fifteen times and my boyfriend asked what was wrong every time. Don’t you know I’m reading?! Leave me alone! But then I finished it and was so enamored of the ending I explained the whole book to him (badly) and rambled on about what a great movie this would make.
The Last Time I Lied is the ultimate summer read. It’s fast-paced, engaging, and will leave you on the edge of your beach chair. I can’t recommend it enough. And I probably won’t shut up about it until everyone I know reads it. So read it!