Riley Sager won many fans last year with The Final Girls. I also read the book and I liked it a lot. But personally, I liked „The Last Time I Lied“ better.
Emma attended a summer camp as a young girl. There she made friends with the 3 other girls in her hut. Especially with Vivien. One night, Emma sees them sneaking out of the hut. When she wakes up the next morning, she is still alone. The three girls have disappeared and never came back. Emma blames herself and is severely traumatized. In fact, she was not entirely innocent that the girls should not return to the hut. As an adult she processes this traumatic experience by painting the girls disappearing into the wood with great success. The holiday camp then remained closed. Now the owner wants to reopen it. And she wants Emma to return as an art teacher. After initial hesitation, Emma sees it as a chance to find closure. But soon things will get out of hand again.
The book impresses above all by its eerie atmosphere. Emma feels that somebody is watching her. She starts to investigate. Vivien seems to have left her clues. There is something wrong with this camp, with the lake that once flooded the valley. Emma senses a dark secret that Vivien wanted to uncover and probably costs her life.
I liked this dark mood very much. The book is gripping and both narrative levels are interesting. We learn early that Emma is not entirely innocent. It was she who wrongly accused someone. Or was she maybe right? What kind of dark secret was Vivien uncovering? There are a lot of red herrings and twists. Emma is a difficult character. She is an unreliable narrator and not really likeable. Her paranoia and her erratic conclusions are always very impulsive.
Emma is the reason why I do not give 5 stars. Although she is a classic unreliable narrator, the further I read, the more unsympathetic she became to me. She is very impulsive and is chasing a new suspicion every day . She does not hesitate to make hasty accusations. She is obsessed with Vivien and what happened then. Personally, I find that she often overreacts and is a drama queen. I found her increasingly exhausting, and I’m not sure she truly deserves all the understanding she has received over and over again. But somehow it makes her a very interesting and human character.
„The Last Time I Song“ is a complex, gritty and thrilling thriller which I enjoyed very much.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review