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The Lying Game | Sara Shepard | Series Review

Today I wanted to focus not just on one book, but a whole series! As part of my re-reading challenge last year my final read of 2015 was a second look at The Lying Game, the first book in this YA mystery series by Sara Shepard. I kicked off this year by continuing with the series, re-reading the second, third and fourth books, then picking up the final two novels for the very first time and finally finding out the answer to the big mystery; who killed Sutton Mercer?

In the first novel we are introduced to Emma Paxton, a teenage girl who has grown up being passed around various foster homes. After a fight with her foster brother, who frames her for stealing, Emma is kicked out of her current 'home', but not before watching an online video that will change her life forever.

The video shows a girl who looks exactly like Emma taking part in what appears to be some kind of awful prank where she is being strangled by someone off-camera. Although no one else may believe it Emma knows that the girl isn't her and starts to wonder about the possibility of a long-lost twin. After a little Facebook research she tracks down Sutton and the pair arrange to meet in person. Emma travels out to Arizona with dreams of being reunited with the sister she never knew she had, only to be blindfolded and shoved into the boot of a car. Luckily for Emma she discovers it was in fact Sutton's loyal BFFs who kidnapped her, thinking she was Sutton, as part of their so-called 'Lying Game' prank club.

Sadly for Emma things are about to take another turn for the worse as she comes to the realisation that her long-lost sister has been murdered when Sutton never shows and she receives a threatening note telling her to keep playing along. The mysterious killer instructs Emma to step straight into Sutton's life and she quickly has to learn how to be the sister she never even met. As the series continues we are right by Emma's side as she plays along with the killer's game and tries to figure out what really happened to her sister and why. Along with us for the ride is Sutton, who narrates parts of the books, watching over her twin, whilst also trying to figure out what happened thanks to the loss of her memory. Stuck alongside Emma, Sutton is unable to communicate with her sister and instead can only watch the events unfold as we do.

Throughout the series Emma narrows in on various suspects, eliminating them one by one until there are very few options left. This means that the format is pretty repetitive throughout the series, with Emma getting hold of some information that leads her suspect someone new in each novel, and generally finding out that she's made a horrible mistake! Despite many questionable decisions, Emma is generally a likable character and you'll find yourself rooting for her to solve the mystery.

From very early on in the series I had my suspicions about who was responsible for Sutton's death and in the final book I discovered that, like many other readers, I was correct. Was I disappointed not to be surprised by the reveal? Well actually, no. Although I did manage to correctly guess the killer's identity I still had no idea how things would play out. What really happened to Sutton that night? How would Emma solve the mystery? How did the killer find her? And what would happen once everyone else found out who she really was? All of these questions and more meant that I was kept interested until the very end of the series.

The repetitive format may be off-putting to some readers but if you can get past this The Lying Game is an entertaining and enjoyable mystery series that will always keep you guessing about one thing or another right until the very end, even if not the killer's identity. ★★★★

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