Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware Review

Four high school friends now in their thirties reunite after a terrible shared secret threatens to emerge and shatter their peaceful lives. But what they thought was a shared secret turns out to be a lie - one of them isn’t telling the truth. 

I really enjoyed Ruth Ware’s debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, and was disappointed with the poor follow-up, last year’s The Woman in Cabin 10, so I hoped The Lying Game would be a return to form; it’s not. The Lying Game is awful - looks like Ruth Ware is a one-hit wonder! 

This non-thriller horribly takes its time, ambling towards the reveal of the mystery at the novel’s core, along the way introducing us to its cast of uninteresting nobodies in a small, dreary coastal town. The “dark secret” is underwhelming to say the least, particularly as it’s built up to be something utterly shocking. I guess what they did is morally questionable but I thought it was going to be much, much worse than it was. 

Things don’t improve in the second half of the book. Ware wastes more time on the impossibly mundane life of Isa, our narrator, who has boring quarrels with her husband - this, like too many passages clogging the narrative (what did having a baby add exactly?), has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING, I just kept thinking GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT! - as the pathetic “plot” shuffles towards a dull final twist that I couldn’t have cared less about at that point, and then the whole disaster is wrapped up. 

It’s never really clear what exactly the point was. The four friends gather and talk about what they did but don’t really do anything further - it’s not just a lack of any character’s discernible motivation, it’s a total absence of direction which only accentuates the turgid pacing of the book. A menacing figure, Luc, is introduced but other than wondering whether or not he killed a sheep (another go-nowhere subplot), it’s not clear at all what his purpose is - his presence only makes sense with the final twist so up til then he feels like another superfluous addition to this overlong novel. 

The mystery itself is flimsy at best. It was only a mystery to us because the details are slowly parcelled out - if it was revealed at once you’d be able to poke holes in its flawed construction, as the main character does once she begins to think about it. But why wouldn’t she have thought about it at the time or at any time in the 16 or so years since it happened!? It’s such contrived drivel. 

No aspect of The Lying Game was interesting or worth reading. It was a supremely tedious, unremarkable and unsatisfying novel that’s put me off of picking up anything by Ruth Ware in the future. I highly recommend her only good novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, which is exciting and fun, though I’d steer well clear of her other books.

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