4.5 star, adult

Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game: Ware, Ruth: 9781982143411: Books - Amazon.ca

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).

Yes, another Ruth Ware! She has become an author I always look out for, and so far none of her books have disappointed me. Her thrillers are always incredibly chilling and I am always finding myself flipping through the book quickly trying to finish it in one sitting!

The Lying Game follows a group of four girls, who are now grown women with jobs. The story follows our main character, Isa as she is one day called back to Salten by her old friend who she hadn’t seen in years. A dark past lies between the four girls who were once best friends at school in Salten before they left their separate ways after a tragic incident, never to return. However, one ominous text from the girl who stayed calls them all back to face the ghosts of their past.

The Lying Game is a game that was invented by these girls while they were at school, and it involves (as you may have guessed) lying to peers and authority alike, in order to score arbitrary points for best lies told. There are a main set of rules to the game, and the book outlines each step of the game as sections in the book (e.g. Part 1: Tell a Lie). I found that this was an exceptionally effective way to frame each section of the book, and really set the tone for the suspense. As we go through the rules of the game, it parallels the set up of the lies that come back to haunt all the girls. It truly was a magnificent build up of suspense that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cohesion that this set-up provided was also gripping.

So why not 5 Drink Me Potions? I think one thing that I can knock it for was the predictability of the plot. While it wasn’t particularly obvious or anything, the big reveal for me personally wasn’t particularly shocking – although that’s not necessarily present in every thriller novel anyway. However, for those of you who love to be held in suspense, carrot dangling in front of you for the big reveal, this might just fall short for you. For me, I didn’t mind, since the reveal is really just a part of the denouement, and I enjoyed how everything stepwise came to a climax and resolved itself.

I really enjoyed that this book was a thriller (of course), but also simultaneously a moral story for all fabricating lies can truly come back to bite you, harming yourself and others along the way. It is also a tale of friendship, where a simple text could bring together four friends across cities, dropping their lives for the sake of each other when needed. This is a kind of friendship that isn’t always easy to find, and it was nice to see it reflected here in this story. Last little tidbit from me is that I also really enjoyed the ending and how everything was solved and how the story ended for our imagination. I thought it was a great ending to The Lying Game. Read it for yourself and see what I mean!

Overall Recommendations

The Lying Game follows our protagonist, Isa, as she is pulled back to the scene of her past along with her 3 (ex-)best friends when they receive a text from their friend requesting they come to her aid. These four have a long history together back at school when they used to play the Lying Game, making up fanciful tales and spinning stories about the people around them. Quickly we find out how lies can truly come back to bite you, even spanning years after the lie has been told. What happened in the past to make these girls separate paths, and what was the real truth of that night? Find out in this exciting thriller by Ruth Ware!

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