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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Lying Game - Sara Shepard

Released December 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

My daughter has raved over Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series for months now. It's weird to have gone from having to push this child into reading books from getting her to come out of her room long enough to actually spend time as a family. She actually has her hands on my Nook now more than I do.

The Lying Game launches the start of a new series for Ms. Shepard. My daughter read it in one sitting and urged me to read it so that she would have someone to talk to. I, like my daughter, ended up reading the book in one sitting. Unlike her, I finished the final page feeling rather let down. Not because the ending is bad but because now there is a wait to see what really happened to the main character. I'm not one of the most patient people in the world.

Emma's a foster kid about to turn 18 when her life is thrown for a loop. She awakens in a strange bathroom not knowing how she got there. When Emma's foster brother shows her a snuff film of herself, the main reason why her foster mom kicks her out, Emma's confused. That's not her but the girl looks identical. Emma is convinced she has a twin and hits the road in a quest to find her.

Stepping into Sutton's shoes isn't easy. Things start off with a cryptic note stating Sutton's dead and Emma better play along. She soon learns that Sutton and her friends are cruel to everyone around them and each other. Emma's quickly drawn to Ethan, a bit of a social misfit, and that's not acceptable in her clique. To find out what really happened to Sutton, Emma needs to stay in character. Whoever knows she's not Sutton is watching her every move.

As an introduction to Sara Shepard's writing, I can say I am pleasantly surprised. It's not what I was expecting. The conflict of Emma's easy-going personality with Sutton's vengeful one creates great tension. For parents who closely monitor subject matter in their teen's books, there is talk of sex, drinking games and violence found within the book. I think it gives parents a great opportunity for frank discussions with their teen.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Lying Game. The story moves along swiftly, though there is no real resolution in this first book. It is the first in a series though, so I can't really expect everything to be tied up nice and neat. Given that, down the line I think you'll have to read these books in order. This is not a series you'll be able to jump into later without having read the first book. My advice is to get The Lying Game now and wait patiently to see how things play out.

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