book review: the lying game, sara shepard
Title: The Lying Game
Author: Sara Shepard
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperCollins, December 2010
Starred Review: 4 out of 5 stars
I got my reading copy from Around the World ARC Tours.
The Lying Game is a great book, better than Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars. (Though I do need to point out that, clearly, Shepard has some kind of pre-occupation with lying and liars, which is interesting.) While I found Pretty Little Liars confusing and frustrating and withholding and a bit stale, I found The Lying Game refreshing and enjoyable.
The first thing to note of interest is the narrator, who is dead. She narrates from the beyond. I suppose I expected this meant that Sutton, our dead narrator, would be omniscient, able to transcend time and space to tell the story. This isn’t the case. Sutton is tied to Emma, her twin sister, and can only see and hear what Emma does and be where Emma is. Before I continue, I should note that, until the story’s start, Emma and Sutton didn’t even know they had a twin sister, so imagine the surprise.
Sutton never new her mother. She was adopted as a baby into an affluent family, bred into a life of priveleges and, really, the stereotypical “mean girl” lifestyle. She and her gaggle of friends like to play a sordid, twisted game they’ve dubbed “The Lying Game,” which we learn using means scared the crap out of each other and unsuspecting others, often with kidnapping or murder fantasies played out in real life, always pushing the envelope an inch or a foot too far. In fact, as we quickly learn, it looks like maybe Sutton’s death was the result of “They Lying Game” going too far.
On the other hand, Emma grew up for a while with his flaky, not-quite-all-there mother, who sometimes left Emma alone for long periods of time. Eventually, Mom took off, and Emma started off in the foster system. Nothing ever works out for her. We meet her in a hopeful situation, until her foster brother frames her and gets her kicked out. So she runs away and ends up, inadvertantly, taking Sutton’s place.
As with pretty much every YA book out there these days, this is the first in a series. So just as we’re starting to figure out what’s really going on, just as Emma starts to fall more easily into her role of lying, of being Sutton, just as our dead narrator begins to understand how she died, a twist occurs that changes everything (though I should admit I mostly saw it coming), and the book ends.