Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager, paperback, 336 pages, Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99, Waterstones.

This is the first book I’ve read from Riley Sager and this definitely won’t be the last.

Survive the Night follows a student called Charlie Jordan, making her way home from university. But what seems like a smooth ride, isn’t as smooth sailing as you may think. Charlie leaves behind her boyfriend in exchange for a ride home from another student. However with the campus killer still on the loose, Charlie can’t seem to grasp that she could be driving home with him. She can’t be the next victim after all… can she?

Sager begins his novel by introducing a handful of characters into Charlie’s life. We discover early in the novel about Charlie’s loss of her best friend Maddy and her boyfriend Robbie. However from the first chapter, the main focus in Survive the Night is around Charlie and Josh’s journey to her hometown. Not only does this keep the scenes intense but it also allows the readers to grow an attachment to the characters on a deeper level. Car journeys are brilliant for getting to know more about someone and as we follow their journey, the readers are well and truly along for the ride. Throughout the journey, Charlie begins to question who the driver is to reassure herself and to find out what his intentions of leaving so soon are.

Throughout Survive the Night, the tension is kept incredibly tight. So tight that suspicions are constantly among the characters and you can’t help but question character’s motives. Some characters you might like at the beginning but by the end, you might have a whole different take on them. If your views on the characters wasn’t change enough, then fasten your seatbelts because this ride is going to be bumpier than you think! If this novel could be summed up in three words they would be:

Don’t trust anyone.

I feel that Sager has built the tension up perfectly and has included more action in his scenes that I strongly favour over previous thriller authors. 

When I first read the blurb of this book, I was so intrigued. I knew it would seem very minimal with most of it taking place in a car but if anything, it showed a rawness to characters that I hadn’t seen before.

For anyone who is a fan of Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley and Allie Reynolds, I would strongly recommend Riley Sager. I was previously torn between reading Ware or Sager for my holidays and thought I’d picked well with Ware. Little did I know both choices would be so amazing.

Riley Sager’s Survive the Night is officially out in paperback in the UK and I strongly recommend anyone with a love of psychological thrillers and plot twists, to give this book a go. Oh, and brace yourselves!

Enjoy the ride!

The Last by Hanna Jameson

The Last by Hanna Jameson, paperback, 400 pages, Waterstones, £8.99

Hanna Jameson’s The Last is an immersive read from beginning to end. This novel is unlike anything I have read before as it begins in a situation that no one else has ever experienced. The Last is about the last remaining guests at a hotel in Switzerland During their stay the work ends. The Last tries to exhibit what this situation would be like. Furthermore, with reason to believe a murderer is staying at the hotel – as a body is discovered – the novel begins to question whether morals have ended too.

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Background

Throughout this novel it is clearly evident that Jameson has given ‘the end of the world’ many thought when creating this novel. Small luxuries we take for granted are stripped away from them in an instant, making us question what we could possible live with – or without. Furthermore with a hotel providing accommodation for a variety of cultures, The Last begins to showcase humanities beliefs to the bare bone.

Format

Interestingly the format of this novel isn’t your standard ‘chapter 1.’ The novel has been written by John, a professor from San Fransisco, who is currently attending a conference. Instead of chapters the novel follows a diary-like structure to recollect the days that have went by. This may not be everyone’s favourite structure style, however it is very suiting and adds a personal touch to the experience.

Themes

There are two main themes underlying in this novel. One is anthropology and the other is mystery. Throughout The Last, all of the characters are significantly different and thus show very different reactions to the end of the world and to each other. Although I found this very interesting, my main reason for reading this novel was due to a murder investigation in a very unusual circumstance.

As the novel progressed I was unsure how the novel was going to end as there was little progress made about the murder. Overall I felt let down as the murderer was only identified after their was a solution to morals and leadership. For this reason, I felt like the mystery element was an afterthought and made the suspense I had, flop like a pancake.

I am still pleased that I read The Last as I did enjoy the characters’ journey. However I would describe this novel as speculative fiction, as I felt misled with this novel being associated as a crime or thriller. If you like alternative fiction, think Lord of the Flies survival in the time of Brave New World, then you’re in for a treat.

Please give it a read and keep an open mind. It may not have been the type of book I wanted to read but I really enjoyed the change.

You can pick this book up here.

This book was received via NetGalley.

The Death of Mrs.Westaway

The Death of Mrs.Westaway by Ruth Ware, 400 Pages, paperback, £8.99 at Waterstones.

Get out while you still can. Ruth Ware has created a thrilling house with even darker secrets. The Death of Mrs. Westaway begins with Hal and a mysterious inheritance to someone she has never heard of. Pretending all is well, she returns to the estate and realised that this is more than she bargained for.

The pace in this novel is well thought out. It begins rather fast paced, with the introduction to Hal and her need to escape. After the first meeting with the lawyer Mr.Treswick, the novel seemed to slow a little. However this allows the reader to come to terms with what is happening and to explore the grounds and the rest of the characters with Hal. From this point on, the pace continues to build, leaving the reader with sleepless nights of reading.

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The plot itself plays to Ware’s strengths as her style cannot be unacknowledged in the plot. Ware’s writing style tends to be located in a location that holds memories and secrets that are carefully revealed one by one. The Death of Mrs.Westaway tends to be the most focused towards a mystery novel, with Hal and the reader being the detective. With this being said, this mystery brings the traditional victorian mystery into the contemporary here and now. Therefore do not expect a predictable read with this book. Whilst you are reading one part, Ware is tweaking with something else in the background.

There is some very significant influences to this novel that are very hard to ignore. The past location of Ezra and the estate itself, are strong influences of Daphne Du Maurie’s Rebecca. Throughout the novel the similarities are uncanny. However Ruth Ware makes sure that you don’t read the same novel twice. 

Furthermore superstition also plays a key part in the novel, from tarot cards to magpies that swarm the grounds. This could challenge the reader’s beliefs of what is believed and what is fact. It is this concept that is consistently returned to when trying to uncover the secrets throughout the novel. What are the facts and what is it that you want to believe?

The Death of Mrs.Westaway is a perfect choice for readers who loved Rebecca or are curious about superstition. However if you enjoy a good mystery but would wish they kept you guessing, then again, you’re looking at your next read.

If you are still not entranced by this novel then, through the words of Mrs.Warren Get out while you still can.

Although we already know what you are going to read next, don’t we?

To buy The Death of Mrs. Westaway in hardback click hereThe Death of Mrs.Westaway is available to pre order in paperback.

The Death of Her

The Death of Her by Debbie Howells, Macmillan.

The Death of Her brings along its readers to a crime scene where a woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. Only, the woman never died and she’s making a recovery. With the woman’s lack of memory and disjointed timelines in her thoughts, it soon becomes clear for the reader that this case isn’t as straightforward as it should be. The case is left in the hands of DI Abbie Rose and Jack Bentley to figure out who committed the attack and whether it could be linked to additional cases.

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Debbie Howells’ The Death of Her is structured through four perspectives: Charlotte, Evie, Jack and Casey. With reading about both the past and present, the readers gain insight not only to the flaws of each character, but also gains further insight to both the victim and the police force through Evie and Jack. Characterisation is at the heart of this novel, along with its uncomfortable twists and turns. The Death of Her provides so much unpredictability it can sometimes feel like walking through fog. Only towards the end of the novel can you see it getting lighter and the answer becoming clearer. The unpredictability can latch onto the reader and can even make them question what they believe to be true.

Debbie Howells, author of The Bones of You, seems to have used her now country lifestyle as inspiration for the setting of The Death of Her. Her latest psychological thriller is set in Cornwall but is described as a peaceful and safe county, surrounded by Maize fields and crashing tides. The juxtaposition of safety and danger in a quiet, peaceful setting makes the perfect place for mystery, murder and menace.

Available to purchase from Thursday 24th August or pre-order The Death of Her here.