Review: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Book: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
Published: December 2010, HarperTeen
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 307 pages
Where I got it: e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads):  I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet. Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

My thoughts: The Lying Game is the first installment of the new series by Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars. I've never read any of the PLL books or seen the show, but I've heard they are addicting. This is not the type of Young Adult book I would normally read, but I was intrigued by the description, so I requested a copy on NetGalley. This book reminded me of Gossip Girl with more mystery.

The Lying Game is packed with suspense, deception and a whole lot of pop culture references. I have never read a book that throws modern technology and current fashion trends at you like this one. The title comes from a game created by Sutton and her friends that involved playing pranks on each other and the people around them. Each prank was meant to outdo the previous one. As Emma learns more about the game and Sutton's friends, she begins to see how twisted these girls were and makes it her mission to find out what the game has to do with her sister's murder.

Now for a couple of issues I had with this book. The narration took some getting used to. Shepard switches between Emma and Sutton's ghost a little to quickly sometimes, making it difficult to discern which character's point of view we were seeing things from. The ghost of Sutton was unable to remember much about herself or how she died other than a few memories that came to her throughout the book. Her character was much more appealing dead than alive. I couldn't stand Sutton based on the memories she had or the way she was described by others. I got the sense that as she remembered the things she had done, she saw how despicable she could be. It reminded me a bit of A Christmas Carol. I think if she had the chance to do it over, she would have been a better person. In a way, Emma has the chance to make up for those mistakes Sutton has made in the past. I'm interested to see how that plays out in the next installment.

I also found the level of cattiness to be almost unbelievable. If girls are really treating each other the way Sutton and her friends did, I am really scared for our future. It worked in this novel because it added to the tension, but mostly I just wanted to slap all of the female characters except for Emma. I definitely would not want to come across Sutton and her friends, or be on the receiving end of one of their pranks!

If you enjoy drama or mystery, this is just the page turner you're looking for. However, I would not recommend this for young, impressionable teenagers. It paints a very unrealistic picture of what high school life is like, even for the richest of people. Despite its overly dramatic portrayal, The Lying Game kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading and I will most likely pick up the second book when it comes out in the fall so I can find out more about Emma and Sutton.

My rating: 3.5 stars

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