The Lying Game by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★★
"I understood we used to be close. But they were like books I'd read two summer ago; I knew I'd liked them, but I couldn't tell you now what they'd been about."
In true Sara Shepard fashion The Lying Game is filled with style, wit and mystery to the highest degree. All made simple in its fast pace and entertaining tone. Armed with her easy-to-read and suspenseful style, Shepard glides through the first installment of her under appreciated series smartly and leaves readers with a heavy, dark and vivid image of what is yet to come.
Much like Pretty Little Liars, the series starts with a spooky and mysterious tone: death and possible betrayal is at a high. Sara Shepard will fuck with your mind and pull the rug out from under you every time you think you've got it solved. For The Lying Games, our narration is split into twos: Emma’s thoughts in life and Sutton’s in the afterlife. It’s a refreshing twist to her writing and Sara covers ground pretty well with both girls thoughts.
Emma Paxton is a kind, intelligent, sarcastic and down-on-her-luck teenager who is fast approaching her eighteenth birthday. Ever since her mother, Becky, left her to fend for herself at the age of five she has bounced back and forth between foster homes.
For much of her life, there has not been a chance to just breath and be a kid. She has always moved around a lot and now, she is on the move once more. After a disastrous set up put into motion by Emma’s insufferable foster brother, she finds herself without a family and lonelier than ever.
Even stranger, Emma’s foster brother showed her a snuff film of a girl getting strangled. And that girl looked exactly like her.
After shock and confusion, knowing that it isn’t her, Emma does a little research into the videos origins and discovers that she has a twin sister, named Sutton Mercer, and quickly contacts her mysterious sibling. Much to her surprise, Sutton replies to the message with enthusiasm and the two girls plan to meet as soon as possible.
Things are looking up for Emma, after making contact with Sutton, as all she has ever really wanted was a real family. For the first time in her life someone may be able to provide her with that.
But fate has other ideas. Emma is actually mistaken for her mysterious twin and soon she is thrust into Sutton’s life of luxury and popularity. Sutton has lived comfortably in the years since her adoption and the girl has everything anyone could possibly want including a sort of queen bee spot within her group of friends.
Emma soon finds out what we already know: Sutton is dead.
But how long has it been since her murder? Did she even contact Emma – or was it someone else? Sutton’s friends and family have no clue she is dead, so we know it’s a recent blow.
After she attempts to alert the Mercers and the police that she isn’t Sutton, no one believes her; Sutton’s friends were always pulling horrible pranks on people and they view this simply as another attention seeking plot.
And then comes the anonymous threats: Emma must take over her sisters life or else she’s next.
Emma uses this to her advantage to attempt to solve her twins death. It isn’t easy, but Emma eventually gets the basics down and lives among the Mercers. Everyone’s a suspect: Sutton’s friends, family, classmates and more. Emma is determined to get answers and bring the killer to justice. With every page, Emma dives further and further into her sisters life and tries to piece together Sutton's final days alive.
Armed with fashion, romance, teenage angst and gossip The Lying Game shows us two very different girls and a whole lot of intrigue. Sara keeps her readers on the edge of her seat as Emma tries to figure out who killed her sister, and just what The Lying Game is.
All the while, Sutton watches over Emma and lives on through her. Somehow, their twin connection, keeps her tied to her sister so she can someday get closure. Unfortunately for both girls, Sutton isn’t able to communicate with Emma and her memories are hazy in her death.
But with each question answered, more suspicions arise. Emma tries to bond with Sutton's family and friends; event attempting to repair tension. She connects with a boy, Ethan Landry. Heart pounding action and mystery drown the pages. Anything could happen at this point. Especially as she finds out more and more about her sisters pranks and not-so-kind personality. It's obvious Sutton had ruffled a lot of feathers in her short life. Can Emma continue the killers twisted little game? Is she really a convincing duplicate of her twin?
Or can people see right through her act?
The Lying Game is fun and glamorous; something that will keep readers turning the pages for more. There’s nothing quite like a good mystery by the hand of Sara Shepard, and this is one of her finest.