Emma is almost 18 years old and she’s had it rougher than most, abandoned by her mother when she was a child, she has spent most of her life bouncing from foster family to foster family, never feeling at home. She is new to her latest foster family and even though she turns 18 in 2 weeks, she is hoping to stay through her senior year.
Her loser foster brother has other plans showing Emma and her foster mother a video he found online of Emma in a snuff film. But its not Emma, is it? The girl in the video looks just like Emma but it turns out to be the twin sister she never knew she had, a twin that her bipolar mother gave away at birth.
A snuff film is not the best introduction to your long lost sister but some investigation (Emma wants to be an investigative journalist) reveals the girl’s name is Sutton and she is a real prankster, always doing things like faking her own death. When Emma travels to Scottsdale to meet Sutton, she finds that maybe Sutton wasn’t joking after all. Sutton is missing and possibly dead. Emma’s bag with her ID is stolen and she receives an anonymous note that instructs her to pretend to be Sutton or she’ll be next. Emma, who grew up with nothing, steps into Sutton’s place without anyone noticing the difference. Suddenly she has it all, a family that loves her, all the clothes a girl could want, a soccer star boyfriend and the leader of the most popular clique in school. Oh yeah, and a murderer stalking her.
BBB feels as bipolar as Emma’s mother after reading The Lying Game. On one hand, the story is entertaining, sort of like a junior General Hospital and Emma seems to have some moral backbone, if no one else does. Half way through the book, we peeked at the end of this who dunnit, not to see who did it but to check the release date of the next book in the series. That’s the problem with reading the 1st book in a series right when it comes out, you have to wait months for the next one. The mystery is classic, every one has motive and capabilities and Shepard does a good job of giving every suspect a moment to shine and convince the reader that this character must be the murderer, until the next chapter.
However, the flip side of this Gossip Girl/ who dunnit mash-up is it feels like a Pretty Little Liars recycle. The characters are back-stabbing and vacuous teens that are so bored with their perfect little lives that have to create horrible, deep, dark secrets to entertain themselves. After spending time in Sutton’s world, Shepard makes being an abandoned child look appealing.
Writing in a series is a tricking thing, each book must be it’s own unit but with enough loose ends to entice the reader to the next book. If you only read one of the books in the series, it should be able to stand alone. Not the case with The Lying Game, it is a great introduction to the characters and the theme but it is missing the final piece of a plot, the end. If you want to know what happens, you’ll have to wait until book two, Never Have I Ever.
Typically, The Lying Game would be considered a guilty pleasure, and its true we do feel a little guilty for enjoying it, but at the end of the book, we also feel like we fell for one of Sutton’s pranks.
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard was purchased for review by Boston Book Bums