I thoroughly enjoyed Riley Sager’s Final Girls, and I couldn’t wait to read the follow up, Last Time I Lied. Having pre-ordered it, I then didn’t quite get around to reading it until almost a year later!
Have you ever played two truths and a lie?
It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.
Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .
Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.
Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…
Aged thirteen, Emma has the opportunity to join a summer camp. There, she falls in with three older girls, and one in particular, Vivien, who becomes something of a big sister to her, helping with the various troubles that a thirteen-year-old girl has to face. Emma is happy, for the most part, until those three girls disappear without a trace. It’s a mystery that goes unsolved, and one that haunts Emma to the present day, some fifteen years later. I found Emma to be a really interesting character. The events that happened at the camp have affected her deeply, and it’s clear that she has a particularly heavy cross to bear. More is revealed as the novel progresses, but it’s clear from the beginning that she knows more than she has so far let on, and this makes her a particularly interesting narrator.
The camp was closed after that summer, but Franny, the owner, has decided to re-open the it, and she wants the campers who were there that year to return as supervisors to a new group of girls, partly as an endorsement, but also to lay old ghosts to rest. Emma isn’t keen on returning at first, but she eventually agrees, hoping to be able to put the past behind her. I loved the way in which the novel alternated between the camp today and fifteen years ago, and while some things have changed, there were also a lot of similarities, and I think that this works brilliantly to add an ominous tone to the narrative. Emma decides to use the return to investigate the disappearance of those three girls, and this makes for an interesting and complex story that I found really intriguing – I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what had happened. This is a tale that is full to the brim of red herrings, and every time I thought I’d worked it out, my theory was disproved, or an equally feasible alternative presented itself. It’s cleverly told, and I didn’t work it out before the big reveal.
I have to admit that while I liked Last Time I Lied, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Final Girls. That may be down to my expectations, but this just didn’t grab me in quite the same way. I did enjoy it though, and it was one I recommend if you’re looking for an intriguing and complex thriller that will keep you on your toes.