Book: The Last Time I lied
Author: Riley Sager
Pages: 370 (1 page for Acknowledgments-1 page About the Author)
“Two truths and a lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and the first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she-or anyone-saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings-massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager but soon discovers a security camera-the only one on the property-pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through the lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to her friends, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.”
There are no proper words to describe this novel. When I first started reading it, I won’t lie, it seemed bland. I thought that maybe this just wasn’t my style because I’ve never been to an extended stay summer camp. I never got that experience but I’ve seen enough shows on TV that gave me a clear image of what summer camp was like. I just assumed it was because I couldn’t relate or maybe I was secretly jealous because I’ve never been to camp myself. Then there was one page, nothing crazy happened specifically, but after that page, I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to read more and more. It was subtle at first but then I realized I was hooked! I needed to read more, I needed to see what was about to happen.
*Quick disclaimer-adult language and material, but I would rate this around 16 years of age for one reason: They give you the perspective of a 13-year old throughout most of the book. The way the author discusses sex from a teenagers view is almost innocent. The book does not encourage it but does acknowledge it and explain how a teenager feels in such a situation.*
In this novel, the author skips back and forth between the present and 15 years in the past. 15 years ago the main character was front and center during a mysterious disappearance of three girls at her summer camp. They disappeared one night with no trace to be found. For the next 15 years, the main character Emma would be left struggling with the night in question.
Emma is an artist who paints beautiful pictures until one day someone from her past comes back into her life. As you read at the beginning, in the description, the person who reappeared was the super-rich owner of the summer camp from 15 years before. The camp was shut down for 15 years since the mysterious disappearance. When the owner reached out to the main character Emma, she has invited her back to the summer camp for a reopening, only this time instead of Emma being a camper, she’d be an instructor. The owner asked Emma to teach painting classes during the six weeks at camp. Emma was hesitant and needed time to think about her answer and once she was convinced, Emma said yes.
What I loved about this novel is that there is a conspiracy theory going on throughout the whole book that distracts you, like Emma, from anything else going on. It makes you suspicious of everyone and everything else in the story. To me, the real plot twist doesn’t happen until the end. The end is the big plot twist that you don’t see coming. There are a series of events throughout the book that another person may point out as a minor plot twist but to me, those didn’t even compare to the ending. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read a book this well wrote, mystery-style I mean. With mystery-style books you spend most of your time questioning the characters and then BOOM there is the first plot twist and then you have a series of smaller plot twists as the truth unravels, and then you have a grand finale like fireworks. This story, however, seemed to slowly build like a good campfire story until the very end where “BOOM!” all the magic happens.
I absolutely love this book, and I am so very happy I got the chance to read it. The author did an amazing job and I can’t wait to read what else the author has previously published as well! Writing like this does not come along every day and I feel very happy I got the chance to read it!
“They do. Because they’re nervous. Because they’re scared. Because they don’t know what else to do but to keep playing, appeasing me, waiting until I pass out, which likely will be any second now.” (Page 247)
10/10-Would recommend to anyone teenage years or older! (Younger teens 13-15 might want to have a parent read it first or maybe ask permission since the novel contains mild vulgar language and adult material.) I absolutely loved this book and since most everyone I know is over 18, I will be telling everyone I know to check it out! Let me know what you thought or if you read this one before!