Book Critique - The Lying Game

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A well knit plot around an innocent childish game that turns far more sinister than the teenagers expect, giving readers suspense after suspense at every turn of the page, keeping them on the edge.

The Lying Game is a psychological crime thriller by Ruth Ware, first published in June of 2017. This book has been A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick among being on other best seller lists. The primary plot revolves around four girls who grew up in a boarding school, but are now reunited when they receive a mysterious text. 

Kate Atagon sends a text to three other of her childhood friends asking for help. Now Isa, Fatima and Thea join forces to aid Kate in everyway they can. However, their past, especially the Lying Game they used to play as kids at Salten House, comes back to bite them. And the consequences of that game are now in front of them to face, fight and persevere, even if they have to play that game all over again, one final time.

Again this book was loaned to me by my good friend, Patty, who thought I would like it. And I did indeed, since I like thrillers too. I have read psychological thrillers before written by Lisa Jackson and Karin Slaughter. Ware's plot was not as chilling as those books, however, it gave enough shivers through the spine.

The entire plot is written in a first person narration, the narrator being one of the four girls - Isa Wilde. It keeps the readers on constant edge bracing ourselves to happen something sinister at every turn of the page; always waiting for the perpetual other shoe to drop. 

Ware takes the readers through the minds of teenagers and their silly games which cause grave consequences to them that they carry even into their adulthood. The silly game ends up becoming a mill stone around their necks. And the struggle they face to get rid of that, is heart breaking.  Yet one cannot escape from the fruits of their deeds, be they good or bad. 

Innocent love, childish games, result in irreversible situations for all those involved, some losing more than others. Ware tells us a lesson to remember too admonishing us gently to stop such games if any are playing. The chilling part for me as a reader was the way things go out of hand for these 15, 16 year olds who keep paying every day still.

Games can be silly and enjoyable, but can become dangerous at any second. So does Love. One moment it is innocent and protective, the next minute it becomes scandalous and destructive. Ware melded both sides of the key elements very effectively into her plot. 

Ware divides the book into parts or rules as she calls it, based on the rules of The Lying Game: Rule One "Tell A Lie"; Rule Two "Stick To Your Story"; Rule Three "Don't Get Caught"; Rule Four "Never Lie To Each Other; Rule Five "Know When To Stop Lying".

Interestingly enough Ware doesn’t have a synopsis of the book printed anywhere either inside the book or on the book cover. In other social media news, The Lying Game and two other books by Ruth Ware have been acquired by various film companies to be made into movies. All three are still in production. 

A well knit plot around an innocent childish game that turns far more sinister than the teenagers expect, giving readers suspense after suspense at every turn of the page, keeping them on the edge.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. The main characters: Isa, her husband Owen & they have a new born, Freya, also has a brother Will who has a wife and twin boys & a father; Kate Atagon, had father, Ambrose Atagon, who was the art teacher at Salten House and had disappeared 17 years ago, and her step-brother, Luc Ruchefort, and she has a dog, Shadow; Fatima Chaudhry, her husband Ali, their two children Nadia & Sameer; Thea West.

b. Other people we see along the way: Rick, the taxi driver; Jerry Allen, landlord of the pub, Salten Arms; Mary Wren, village matriarch & her son Mark Wren, in the local police force.

c. Personnel & Students at Salten House: Miss Rourke; Miss Farquharson-Jim; Miss Weatherby; Connie; Letitia; Helen Fitzpatrick; Jess Hamilton (has a husband Alex, and two kids Alexa and Joe); Lola Rolando.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Point system and other rules for The Lying Game: Ten points for suckering someone completely; Five for a really inspired story or for making another player break; Fifteen points for taking someone really snooty; extra points for elaborate detail or managing to rehook someone who had almost called your bluff. One important rule - lie to everyone else but never to each other.

b. Some of the books, places and media Moore mentions along the plot:

i. As students at Slaten House, the girls watch the movie Clueless, in the common room.

ii. Kate has a book, Story of O, in her locker at Slaten. 

iii. Isa loves to watch the hit TV show, Cold Case.

iv. One of the books Ambrose owns is Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson.

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. Most of the book, Ware spins that Ambrose Atagon had disappeared after a supposed scandal. And that is what everyone at Salten believe so. However, On Pg. 163, she has one of the characters, Jess Hamilton, mention that Ambrose committed suicide. Only Kate and her three friends knew that Ambrose had committed suicide. So how did Jess know even before the body was discovered and cause of death identified? A character placement error perhaps?

b. On Pg. 251, Line 11, shouldn’t it be "…but we were coming…"?

c. On Pg. 292, Line 5, shouldn’t it be "..I know where…"?


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