I grabbed a copy of The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, knowing how much praise his previous book had received. Over and over I’ve had folks recommend Final Girls to me, but I have not got around to reading that one yet. I figured I would give The Last Time I Lied a chance and if I loved it, I’d grab Final Girls and finally get around to reading it.
The Last Time I Lied is a book about Emma who, when she was a teenager, had her 3 bunk mates at summer camp disappear without a trace. The story centers around the mystery of their disappearance and Emma’s return to the camp 15 years later. Between the traditional summer camp with missing campers plot line, Emma's hallucinations, and the interweaving of the two related stories, the book definitely draws you in - you can't help but follow as Emma desperately tries to unravel the mystery.
The thing, though, is that it’s an all girl’s camp. The staff is overwhelmingly female. There are basically 5 named male characters in the book. And yet, the book was written by a man. To me, it honestly felt like a man trying to tell me about the emotions and life of a teenage girl. I could not find any tiny bit of Emma relatable and that bothered the heck out of me, especially since she and I share an awesome trait of coping with trauma through art.
I think that if the genders of the tale had been flipped and Sager had written about this mystery at an all boy’s camp, I probably would have enjoyed the book more. The characters probably would have felt more real and the story would have been less formulaic. Maybe we’re all so used to men writing about women this feels normal enough but it definitely hampered my ability to get fully sucked in to the story.
Will I read Final Girls next? Nope. Will I read another Riley Sager? It’s definitely possible.