Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Released: July 25th 2017
Received: Own (Book of the Month Club)
Warnings: References to self-harming, drug/alcohol addiction, and eating disorders.
The Lying Game is Ruth Ware’s third novel, the other two being In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10. I personally think that her third novel is by far her strongest, showing clear improvement in writing style and depth of storytelling. Though I’ll admit I didn’t find the cover as pretty as The Woman in Cabin 10 (which was just absolutely stunning).
The Lying Game is a psychological thriller involving four women and their twisted and haunted past. The truth about what has occurred is obfuscated by years of lies, leaving even them uncertain of the truth. Their lives are forever changed following three simple words: I need you. If you like picking your way through a verbal puzzle, this book is for you.
Warnings first: There are a lot of somewhat subtle references to self-harming and eating disorders. Drug addiction and alcoholism are more openly discussed. Nothing is ever shown directly however. Also, for the animal lovers out there: worry not, the dog is fine (hopefully that’ll keep you from stressing the way I did!).
What I found myself enjoying in particular about the Lying Game was the shifting perspectives based on the truth coming out over the lies. The identity of victim versus aggressor changes rapidly with each new revelation, raising questions about the permanence of lies. This is one of my favorite things to discuss and debate, so seeing in portrayed in a book is always refreshing for me.
The lies peel off in layers in the Lying Game. Each time I felt I had finally made it to the center, I was quickly proven wrong. We’re left with a double exposure; the truth buried below the lies, but still ever so slightly visible. Enough to tell you that there’s something more to tell, a ghost of a story.
It’s probably worth noting that I haven’t yet read In a Dark, Dark Wood yet (it’s on the list!) but I can safely say that the writing has improved from the Woman in Cabin 10. The suspense felt so much more real, and the characters that much more human and imperfect. Each character had their own quirks and subtleties, really bringing out their virtues and vices for us to pick apart and theorize about.
One of my biggest complaints about the novel would be the loose ends; specifically Thea’s character. There was so much time spent building up about her health and issues, but nothing seemed to come of it. We’re told about her scars, her apparent eating disorder, her blatant alcoholism, but we never see any resolution to any of it. We’re left hoping that she seeks proper care for herself after everything that’s happened. Personally, I’m hoping she ends up taking care of Shadow and that helps her adjust.
I’ll be very curious to see where Ruth Ware goes next in her novels. I’m sure she’ll continue with the psychological thrillers (or at least I certainly hope she does!) but beyond that I can’t say. I suppose in the meantime I’ll get caught up and read her first book (finally).