The Last Time I Lied is a critically acclaimed thriller by Riley Sager. I read this book for Halloween last year and it delivered with a spooky atmosphere (the book is set at a summer camp deep in the mountains), characters you can’t trust (the game Two Truths and A Lie is played quite a lot), and a plot twist that blew me away! Here’s the breakdown:
Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt
I like to play a game where I guess if a thriller writer is a man or a woman. Here’s the line that tipped me off: “matching bra and panties”. Any guesses? Yeah, that’s a man. Teens don’t match their underwear, and no woman has ever said the word “panty.” So there were a couple missteps, including a level of sexual aggression in teen girls that I was…skeptical about. However, these moments didn’t last long and at the end I liked how everyone was portrayed.
Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts
Yes. Most of the characters are women, and the book takes place at a summer camp for girls, moving between the present summer and flashing back to the events that happened 15 years prior.
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts
Again, most of the characters are women. Main character Emma was 13 when she first arrived at Camp Nightingale. While there, she is taken under the wing of three older girls. Then, one night, the three older girls disappear without a trace. The experience haunts Emma throughout her life, leading to an obsession with the girls where she paints them over and over. When Emma is invited back to the camp for its re-opening, she seizes the chance to return to the scene of her past regrets, and follow the trail the girls were chasing 15 years ago.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 3/4 pts
I knocked off a point here because I thought the book was a little bit long. There were repetitive descriptions that, while atmospheric, eventually got old. I didn’t feel I was learning anything new about Emma and the mystery risked becoming plodding. However, the plot twist (in the final 5 pages!) brought it all together, and shed new light on every other moment of the book. So I’d recommend it still, even though it gets slow in the middle.
Above and Beyond General Media = 0/5 pts
Honestly, there wasn’t MUCH above and beyond about this. The most interesting thing was frankly that a male writer wrote women with such depth (sorry men, but I follow MenWriteWomen on Twitter so I’ve seen some shit.) “Not offensive” is already the lowest bar on our scale, so I’m not going to throw Riley Sager a bone here. That being said, the book was good and I do recommend it! But if you want something truly above and beyond, well, we have been gifted with Gone Girl. Check that out too and have a thriller weekend in.
Click here to buy The Last Time I Lied, then tell us what you thought in the comments!
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