For What It's Worth

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying GameFrom Goodreads:
I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.
The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.
Let the lying game begin. (YA)

The Lying Game was a difficult book for me to get through but every time I was about to give up and put it in the DNF pile there would be a line or passage that would suck me back in.
The biggest problem I had was with the split narrative. With this book it’s essential and yet it didn't quite work for me.
The book starts with Sutton realizing that she is dead. When she awakens as a ghost her viewpoint is through the eyes of her long lost twin Emma. Neither girl knew about the other and both have led very different lives.
Sutton was given up for adoption as a baby and lived a very upscale life style with a seemingly happy family and sister. Emma stayed with her biological mom for several years before she abadoned Emma, sending her into the foster care system and all sadness that entails.
Sutton can “see” through Emma’s eyes and into Emma’s past memories so sometimes she is narrating what she sees of Emma's memories and then sometimes it switches to Emma herself speaking.
Sutton can’t remember much of her own life unless she has a flash of memory. She was nasty piece of work while alive based on her friends comments but in death she’s nice so when I was reading her POV her voice was very similar to Emma's. This confused me on numerous occasions and I had to go back to see who was speaking/thinking. This happens within the same chapter with randomness. Two paragraphs may be Emma, the next three Sutton.
Did I confuse you? Sorry but it confused me too....LOL
The plot itself is very interesting. When Emma’s foster brother finds a snuff film on the internet with a girl identical to Emma, she gets kicked out of her latest foster home. Despite the nature of the film Emma is hopeful that she may have a sister and goes in search of the family she’s always dreamed of.
When she shows up in Sutton’s home town she realizes there may be more to that tape and that Sutton is missing, possibly murdered. People automatically assume she’s Sutton and while she tries to tell Sutton’s family the truth she realizes she may learn more by assuming her twins identity.
Then this is where I was lost again. I’m sure this was meant to be a layered mystery where you don’t know who to trust or believe with twists and turns but so little actual information was revealed that by the end I don’t think I even cared who did what.
We find out Sutton wasn’t very nice and has many enemies including her best friends, ex-boyfriends and even her sister. Sutton and her friends were part of The Lying Game. A game where the friends play horrible pranks on their enemies and each other. So there is no shortage of candidates who may have wanted to murder Sutton.
It also seems that someone, perhaps the murderer, wants Emma to keep pretending to be Sutton or else she might end up dead too.
There is a delicate balance with a book like this. It’s the first book in a series and a "who done it" so there is going to be a lot of setup and that’s fine. I don’t expect all the answers in the first book but the mystery and clues were little more than …I took her boyfriend away so she hates me and could be the killer….,…I broke up with him so he hates me and he could be the killer… etc. Add in a few random people who show up when they are supposed to be elsewhere and there ends up being too many suspects with too few actual clues. I felt a little cheated at the end of this book.
Having said that, if someone read the next book in the series (Never Have I Ever) and told me there were at least a few revelations or answers I would be willing to read it. I’m still intrigued by the premise and a few of the characters.
After perusing the reviews on Goodread’s I see that quite a few people and blogger friends of mine didn’t experience my problems with the story and loved it. So give it a try if you like mystery and intrigue or Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series and maybe skip it if you’re someone who’s frustrated by cliffhanger endings.

Rating: 2 out of 4 Too much mystery with very few answers or development.

Author's Website: Sara Shepard
Buy the book! The Lying Game


  1. Sounds confusing, but since I already have a copy on my shelf, I'll be giving it a go eventually. I'm planning on waiting to read it until the sequel is closer to release date though. I've heard the ending is frustrating.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I felt the same when I read this book, but what really bothered me was Sutton. Honestly, she was just so nasty I couldn't get myself to care who murdered her.

  3. @Cialina I agree, I don't think I cared what happened to anyone. Dead Sutton seemed boring and alive Sutton was almost evil. I get the mean girls thing but these kids were past that level. Joking and acting out murders?? I thought they should all be arrested.

    @Natalie A lot of people loved it so I say try it anyway. It's a good idea to wait though. There's a lot of set up but very little happens so it was frustrating. For me anyway.

  4. Hi Karen, Nice review, I'm right there with you with everything you said about this book! So frustrating, mostly because it has a lot of buried potential.

  5. @rebekah yeah, I kept hanging in there because I liked the idea but nothing ever came of any of it.

  6. I understand where you're coming from.Personally, I loved it, but I love Shepard's writing in general.If you don't like that kind of story telling,then it's inevitable and completely understandable not to like TLG.
    I'd suggest though you give it a second chance and read the sequel.Maybe she gives more answers there :)

  7. Thanks to your review, I avoided reading this one (I do not like books that are long on mystery and short on answers), but I did buy and give away a copy, so I've supported the author and the YA industry! Yay, happy compromise!