Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Lying Game - Mystery Review

Rating: Just Okay
Source:  Library - Audio

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:
  Ware's previous two books were easily two of my favorite reads of the year so there was no way I could pass this one up!

My Impression: 
This is such a hard review to write!  Ruth Ware's previous 2 books were on my favorites lists for the last 2 years.  I loved them.  I loved trying to figure out just what had happened and was on the edge of my seat for every twist and turn.  I felt like I was holding my breath the entire way through the book.  This one?  Not so much. 

So I've been trying to write this for a ridiculous amount of time and have deleted paragraph after paragraph of rambling so when all else fails - make a list.

What Bugged Me -
1.  I actually liked Isa but so many of her choices made me want to reach in and give her a shake.  I get that you make stupid choices when you're a teenager but so many of her problems were caused by lying as an adult when she knew better.  The problems with Owen were entirely self-inflicted.  If she had even told him a partial truth things would have been better.

2.  I think the legal system in the UK is very different than it is in the US (not that I"m all that familiar with it but I watch and read a lot of murder related books so I feel like an expert).  I just don't feel like the repercussions for the big secret would be as scary here as it is to the characters in the book - especially given their age and the time passed.

3.  The repetitiveness.  I mean I get that they're all worried and stressed and scared and making all kinds of terrible decisions but it felt like the last half of the book was mostly that over and over.  I feel like Ware had a pretty good story but didn't have the page count so she had to come up with 200 pages at the last minute.

What I Liked:
1.  I really liked Isa and Fatima and even Kate and Thea though it took a little longer to warm up to them (especially Thea).  I believed they shared the bond that they did and even though they didn't see much of each other anymore were still close friends.  I liked that all 4 were very different but it was still easy to believe they were friends. 

2.  The ending.  Even though there were parts of this book that drove me up the wall Ware still has the ability to make me stand still - barely breathing just listening to the end.    As well I enjoyed the first half of the book.  It wasn't my favorite Ware book but I enjoyed it.

3.  The setting.  I love Ware's ability to make the setting come alive and turn a fairly innocent place into something ominous and seriously foreboding.  I could just feel the sinister atmosphere of the old mill.

Audio note: Imogen Church once again does the narration for Ware's book and once again it is fantastic.  She manages to give all the characters slightly different voices with slightly different accents and it's really wonderful.  I think I'd listen to Church read tax codes and enjoy them

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would but it's based on her previous two books and not on this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  While I would recommend this author I wouldn't recommend this book.


  1. I've seen a lot of reviews for this one that are a little more lukewarm than her other books, and having read it myself I get that. This wasn't my favorite by her either, although I liked it a smidgen more maybe. Still I enjoyed the Woman in Cabin 10 a lot more. One thing I did like about this one was the atmosphere, the setting. she does that well. But yeah this one mot my fave.

  2. Totally agree with everything here. I loved her other two books (audio as well) and this just didn't live up to them. I am hoping her new one will be better.

  3. I've never tried this author because reviews are mixed and I'm wary about that as this is not a favoured genre. I do want to read a few more mysteries and thrillers though.

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  5. I agree with your assessment as well. This was my least favorite of the first 3 books, though one of my issues was Isa's constant talking about breastfeeding. Ha! On and on and on. Anyway, it did have the boarding school aspect, which is somehow very appealing to me. And the location was very interesting. I've just finished reading #4 - the Mrs. Westaway book - very, very Gothic. I liked it a lot. My review will be up in a few weeks. Somehow I'm ahead on reviews - it's that 'going on a break' thing. LOL

  6. I didn't like this book as much as the previous two, either. I found the character of Kate so manipulative and annoying that she kind of ruined the story for me.

    Great review, and I can understand why it was hard to write. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I know I'm in the minority here, but I actually liked THE LYING GAME better than Ware's other two. I'm not sure why exactly, especially because none of its characters were very likable and the plot does drag on ... still, I couldn't put it down. Something about it appealed to me more than her previous books.

  8. Ooh, ouch! Too bad when an author fumbles a book when she usually delivers! I loved In a Dark Dark Wood and didn't read anything else by her, but that one was so creepy good for me! Though I'm sure you'll keep on reading her because you enjoyed her other titles.

  9. I didn't really like this one either. It was just so slow and repetitive.

  10. I have only read (or actually listened to) her first book which I did enjoy. I have the second one sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me but I might skip this one. I have seen so many mixed reviews for it and I am not really sure it is for me. Great review!

  11. I enjoyed this one, but agree not nearly as much as her first two.