Once Upon A Book Club: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (2 out of 5)

The Lit Bandits had a go at Ruth Ware’s 3rd novel this month. I wish I could report success in my reading circle, but I cannot. I stand by my previous statements about Ms. Ware’s books- can’t stand the 1st, actually liked the 2nd, can’t get over shaking my head at the 3rd. I honestly did spend a lot of time shaking my head at the Lit Bandit meeting. I couldn’t believe it (the book, not the ladies). Only 4 of my ladies showed this month (Thank You, those who did come!), but we had a good discussion out of it, and that’s part of the fun associated with the book club.

Isa freaks out when she gets a text from her long-estranged friend Kate saying, “I need you”. Years before, the group of friends (also including Thea, an anorexic free spirit, and Fatima, a doctor with a family and a lick of sense, unlike the other girls) parted with the caveat that Kate summon them with that text if she ever needs them. Fifteen years (15 years!) pass before the ladies are summoned, but Isa tells her husband next to nothing and takes off with her baby girl to help Kate. The group are shocked when Kate hands them a newspaper with the front headline about the discovery of a body. The ladies freak, drink, and reminisce. They also “get their stories straight” and vow to support Kate. Whose body is in the grave that the authorities have uncovered (after a local dog brings a human bone to its owner)? The girls relive their youth, as free spirited prep girls who rebel at school, but even more so when they travel to Kate’s house on the weekends. Kate’s father Ambrose is a highly respected local artist, as well as an art teacher at the school the girls attend. He has no problem being “the cool parent” and letting the girls do what they like, not limited to substance abuse. Kate’s half-brother Luc is also along for the ride, the apple of many unrequited eyes and crushes in the group. And then things suddenly aren’t good anymore, with the girls being expelled because nude drawings of them done by Ambrose are leaked to the school, because Luc leaves and Ambrose disappears, leaving 15-year-old Kate on her own. And then silence until the body is found in the wood. DNA quickly proves the body is Ambrose, and Kate is hauled in for questioning. Things start to connect for the reader at this point, especially with the reappearance of Luc. Back home, Isa’s husband Owen finally blows his stack at his wife for lying about almost everything, and instead of trying to repair her marriage, she hops on a train and heads back to Kate. Avoidance on a huge level, people. When she returns to Kate, things happen quickly and in a downward spiral that can only be defined as stretching the lines of believability. At least, in my opinion. I have had a week to think more on it and I still cannot reconcile the actions of anyone who was involved in what turns out to be Ambrose’s demise. Clue: It wasn’t what you thought. That’s usually a given in most psychological thrillers, but especially in this case. Sadly, one little paragraph tipped me off to one big clue, and I guessed at a major part of the plot. Anyone who knows me knows that immediately loses points with me. I love books where you have no idea until the end. That wasn’t the case here. I didn’t like most of the characters here, with the exception being Fatima. They were all self-absorbed and uncaring to circumstances that they helped create. What did I like? The setting. Ware has an uncanny ability to create a spooky, dark setting in which you can pretty much guarantee a body is present. She painted the town of Salten in an especially creepy light, adding to it with Kate’s “house”. Huge points for that. She also imbues her characters with bold brush strokes, meaning that even if they exhibit reprehensible character traits, you aren’t terribly surprised when they act out with those traits, because the characters are so well drawn that you feel you know them personally. Overall, I just did not love this book. It frustrated me and whole parts of it did not surprise me at all. I also had no connection or sense of care about any of the characters. Yet their actions did not surprise me, because Ware crafts one hell of a character. Just not my bag at all.

~ by generationgbooks on May 30, 2018.

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