“I need you.”
— Ruth Ware, The Lying Game
After In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware brings us a character-oriented thriller with The Lying Game. Unlike her previous stand-alone stories, this one focuses a lot more of the bond that lies tie together between friends and family. All grown-up, Isa Wilde is now a mother to her little girl Freya and a wife to Owen. She contemplates a typical life of adulthood, balancing both her new responsibilities as a mother but also as a lawyer. However, The Lying Game wouldn’t be much of a thriller if it didn’t suddenly shift gears and raced head first into danger. In fact, that is exactly what happens as Isa Wilde receives an unexpected text from a friend she hasn’t heard of for over 17 years: “I need you.” Left clueless to what kind of history compels an individual to rush back to a dark place from the past, readers are kept at the edge of their seats as Ruth Ware slowly but surely unravels the lies that have kept a couple of friends connected together, whether they liked it or not.
If there’s one thing that Ruth Ware seems to never fail to do, it’s definitely to write beautifully. Her ability to capture the tension of a scene as well as the attention of the reader is infinitely masterful. Her writing alone could keep me hooked to her books for days and never struggle to hold onto my gaze. The details that are conveyed as well as the emotions that are put forth are always accurate and genuine, helping greatly in delivering a compelling story no matter the direction it takes. Unfortunately, The Lying Game fell short in the story-telling department. It didn’t help when the biggest plot twists were mostly foreseen and that all the clues that were offered early into the story as elements of foreshadowing were pretty easily discernible. While the story remained far slower than Ruth Ware’s previous novels, it still delivered a very well-written and enthralling mystery. Isa Wilde and Kate Aragon’s characters were definitely the highlight to this book as their character development were refined and emphasized.
I did however feel like every other character didn’t get an equal or significant amount of development too, notably Fatima and Thea, the two other friends who will inevitably be dragged back to a past they have all left behind. This lack of development, if I may call it so, only eased my ability to deduce the outcome and predict the course of this mystery. What’s also worth noting is that the book is split into five parts, each titled after an important rule in the Lying Game. The originality behind this was definitely present and the titles were cleverly infused into the story-telling. However, its impact and overall importance slowly deflated as the story went on. Ruth Ware also alternates between past and present narratives throughout the book in order to share bits and pieces of these girls lives and the bond that connects them. Unfortunately, the alternating narrative also saw a steady decline as you’ll quickly find yourself grounded in real time with very little to no narrative featuring these girls as adolescents. In all honesty, all these inconsistencies truly took away the potential behind this book.
While not Ruth Ware’s strongest story, The Lying Game remained a highly captivating and atmospheric book. The author plays on our desire to find out the truth in a world where lies served as the foundation to the four girls and definitely succeeds in making this story greatly captivating. Although you don’t really have countless hypotheses fighting to come out on top, Ruth Ware still keeps the intrigue high and offers us a fascinating story filled with character development. It might also be worth mentioning that the book sometimes felt like it had plenty of heavy drama-filled sequences that curved slightly away from the main plot, but by the end of the book you’ll understand that everything served a purpose and ultimately showed us the repercussions of the lies that infested these girls early in their lives as they slowly crawl out of the shadows. Ruth Ware still remains a very solid mystery writer and her latest novel, although slightly different in style, promises us countless more enticing titles to read in the near future.
THANK YOU TO SIMON & SCHUSTER CANADA FOR SENDING US A COPY FOR REVIEW!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/