The Lying Game by Ruth Ware fulfills the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge category “a book revolving around a puzzle or a game.”
I’ve read three Ruth Ware stories. And I don’t love her. I like the stories okay, but honestly, most fall short. I liked The Woman in Cabin 10 though the titled glommed on to the “the girl” titled novels like Gone Girl.
But The Lying Game bothered me as a reader and a writer. I’m not much a fan of unreliable narrators. I still curse Moriarty. Grrr…In fact, unless it’s done superbly well, i.e. Gone Girl, the book will probably remain on my unfinished/unread list. The Lying Game didn’t quite have an unreliable narrator, but she sure held back.
Spoilers…but let me explain. The women in the book come together because of an urgent call from one of their high school friends. They all fly back to a small town under the preamble of going to a reunion. But in reality, the police have found a body and the women need to talk/get their story straight.
The story is told in first person and Isa holds back. I don’t know why. She’s telling the story. She knows whose body it is and the circumstances of how and why it ended up in a swamp. But does she tell us? No. We spend pages and pages building suspense, deepening the intrigue, and rolling about in small snippets of backstory. But the whole time, Isa knows. And that pisses me off.
If Isa knows most of the plot, why can’t she tell us? I mean we are in deep point of view here. We’re in her head the entire book. Just once her thoughts should have revealed “Oh that’s the body of…spoiler…who died because…spoiler…” It was a good idea for a story. But I feel the author should’ve given the readers that secretive information and then spun a twist on it. (There was a twist, but it needed a better one.) Or perhaps Isa could have been the one person not in the know. But to have her know the entire thing from the start was a waste of tension. The suspense slowly built as the novel progressed until Isa finally spills the damn secret. Suspense for suspense’s sake, annoying, unnecessary and poorly written. Sorry, Ms. Ware.
The book category asked for a plot that revolved around a game. The Lying Game didn’t live up to that either. The lying game the women played as girls involved telling the biggest lies and getting away with it. They never lied to each other until…well, spoiler… But the game itself only played a small part to get all the key players together and cement their friendship. I didn’t see it as an integral part of the plot.
So overall, I think The Lying Game by Ruth Ware falls short on several levels. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t recommend it, not for this category or as a suspense novel. I’ll rate it 3 little white lies.