Monday, January 10, 2011

REVIEW: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying Game
Published 12.07.2010
by Sara Shepard
307 pages


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 GoodReads)

REVIEW: Where have I been?!?!  Why in the hell have I never read anything by Sara Shepard before?  I’m usually a lot more technical and not as emotional with my punctuation, but this book was seven shades of awesome!

Yeah, I know, I usually am all about the depressing ‘issue’ books!  So, maybe this book was a breath of fresh air.  And that air smells de•li•cious, as if it was laced with Auntie Anne’s cinnamon ‘n’ sugar pretzels and Chanel No. 5.  The Lying Game is that kind of yum!  See, I’ve never even watched Pretty Little Liars.  Ever since Dawson left the creek and Felicity graduated, I just haven’t been able to look at teen/young adult shows the same. 

Sigh.  Does anyone else hear The Boys of Summer playing?  Oh, that’s just me?  Sorry, I’ll return to the point.

So, as you can tell from the synopsis, Twin A, Sutton Mercer, is dead.  Murdered, in fact.  Twin B, Emma Paxton, has been stuck in foster care her whole life and finds out she even has a twin through the evil creepiness of her foster mom’s bio-son-spawn.  So, Emma is more that thrilled and excited to greyhound it to Arizona from Vegas to meet the rich, long-lost sister she’s never known.  When she arrives, however, she falls into her twin’s murderer’s plans, and through a strategically placed note and other freaky events, is made to understand that Sutton is not only dead, but that she is to take her place.  Unfortunately, Emma soon learns that Sutton makes Regina George look like Anne Shirley, and she has to quickly learn the ropes of playing an overly privileged, self-centered mean girl to A) protect herself from her sister’s murderer; and B) find out who the murderer(s) is/are.

This was such a fun, high school who-dunnit thriller.  I wasn’t bored once throughout reading it.  Twists, turns and maddening intrigue kept my attention the entire time.  There is a very small part of me (both in size and pettiness) which genuinely enjoyed seeing the rich girls squirm and Sutton show regret for her living transgressions.  The stance from which the story is told is also very interesting.  I’ve seen reviews where readers think that the point-of-view switches between Sutton’s post-mortem first-person narrative and Emma’s third-person limited.  I disagree – it’s Sutton the entire time.  Sutton is in an in-between state from what I can surmise, and her death has somehow left her dependent on and attached to her twin, both in body and mind.  So, when the book describes Emma’s actions, it’s actually Sutton observing Emma, and when the you are reading what Emma thinks, it’s Sutton telling you that.  You can tell it’s not third-person because Sutton directly comments and reacts to what Emma thinks at times, particularly towards the end.  Through Sutton, we learn about Emma’s abandonment by their mother, her life in foster care, her hopes for a family, her opinion of Sutton, her friends and their lifestyle, and her attraction to a certain, brooding high school hottie, who is so not Sutton’s boyfriend, the guy who Emma has to pretend-be with.  Equal parts dreaminess and awkwardness ensue. 

The best part?  You really don’t know who did it.  Anyone and everyone is a suspect.  The Lying Game is an actual creation of Sutton and her friends, and they treat it like a high school version of Fight Club.  It literally makes it impossible to for Emma to trust anyone.  Also, death conveniently has rendered Sutton an amnesiac.  Her memories ebb and flow throughout, but they’re spotty to say the least.  At times, she is as surprised and horrified as Emma is to learn what she did to others when she lived, and you soon learn that any number of people may have wanted her dead.  The facts of what Sutton did are mostly only alluded to and vaguely referenced, though, which frustrates both sisters and impedes Emma’s investigation.  It ends in a grand manner, and you are not much closer to the truth than Emma was when she first arrived in Arizona

Never have I ever read a mean girls thriller more fun that this.  I can’t wait for the sequel.

I’m hooked.  Game on, Ms. Shepard.  Game on.


I wished so badly that she could see my flickering body and understand this wasn’t a joke.  That I was dead, really and truly.  It was one thing when she rolled her eyes at my life and wrinkled her nose at my boyfriend, but I didn’t want her to think that I was the type of person who would use her long-lost sister that way.  I didn’t want to be that kind of person.
pg. 179

At least she had a clear picture of what the Lying Game was now: Girl Scouts for psychopaths.
pg. 202

He reminded Emma of the malfunctioning Tickle Me Elmo doll she had inherited from an older girl her first year in foster care; sometimes the Elmo stared into space and didn’t know what to do next.
pg. 205

But now all Emma could think of when she saw that wheel on the screen was how it seemed like a metaphor for her life – a wheel of chance.  Risk or reward.  Once twin getting the good life, the other twin getting the bad.  One twin dying, the other twin living.  The living twin choosing either to go after the person she was almost certain had killed her sister . . . or slip quietly away.
Pg. 246


  1. LOL, great review! I just got this book and so need to read it!!

  2. So glad you liked this one Linds, I really enjoyed it and I truly had (and still have) no idea who could have killed Sutton. She definitely kept me guessing and like you, I'm hooked! Bring on book 2:)

  3. Haha, she does know how to write a mystery that keeps you hooked. And those cliffhanger endings she gives! Aack! Go get your hands on Pretty Little Liars. At least you won't have to wait to find out who did it.

  4. You should definitely watch Pretty Little's like crack it's so addicting. The Lying Game is very similar so if you enjoyed this book, I think you will love the PLL books/show. You picked some great quotes too!

  5. @Savy - yes, please do! I found it such a fun read and would love to know what you think!

    @Jenny - I went and read your review after you posted - love it! You even make the 'fun' books sound so lovely :) I enjoyed it so much - can't wait for #2!

    @SR - YES! It was addicting! I completely blew off my fiance to go and read it, and then I did it again to write the review!

    @Tara - I am definitely picking PLL up now. I love quotes, don't you - really helps anyone reading pick out the author's tone.

  6. haha, Pretty Little Liars is a guilty pleasure of mine but I admit I've never read anything by Sara Shepard either. I'm glad to know you enjoyed it! I may have to give one of her books a try. I do love reading mystery thrillers. If done well, they can be super fun!

  7. Hi! I`ve passed on an award to you - go check it out on my blog! :)

  8. Awesome review. I loved The Lying Game. I actually think the Pretty Little Liars series is better (probably because I read it before I read The Lying Game). I bet you'll love PLL, too. As for the TV show, I haven't watched it, but I can't wait to check it out.

  9. Ok, you had me at Fight Club and Auntie Anne's cinnamon n sugar pretzels. This book has been sitting on my ereader for too long and I'm starting to get embarrassed and feel like an outsider. I've read so many great reviews. That's it! I'm going to the mall and buying one of those damn pretzels now and then I'm reading The Lying Game!

    Thanks for the great review

  10. Sounds like a great read. Will add to my ever growing list. :)

  11. *snorts*

    Seven shades of awesome! Why have I never thought to say that before? Maybe one must actually be awesome for that to occur.

    First heard of this one on Jenny's blog and I've been wanting to read it ever since. And it's going to be a sequel? How did I not know this. *game fail*

    Glad you liked it so much. It does sound like an interesting mystery of who done it.

  12. Fabulous review! I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this one.

  13. Awesome review, Linds! I read this, and I really enjoyed this for what it was. It was a bit like PLL, but I liked the premise, and it was definitely a page-turner! :)