Survive The Night by Riley Sager || Book Review

9/19/2021

If you would've asked me this time last year to name some of my favourite thriller authors, I would've had Riley Sager on that list. Now? Heck no. Have you ever read a book that's so bad it makes you debate whether you want to give up on an author all together? Survive The Night did that to me. 

Side-note: The brunt of this review will be spoiler free, but I am including a paragraph at the very end to discuss the ending. It will have a spoiler warning beforehand. Enjoy!



After her best friend gets murdered by the Campus Killer (yup, that's what they call them), Charlie decides that she's had enough with school and wants to go home to live with her Grandma. Needing a ride, she agrees to accompany Josh Baxter, a man she's never met before. But during their roadtrip, Charlie starts to suspect Josh of not being who he says he is. Is she stuck in a car with a possible murderer? 


 I have so many problems with this book, but where to start? 


Let's start with the protagonist. Charlie's entire character was the epitome of the 'not like other girls' trope. She was insufferable, cliché, and a complete dumbass. I could feel my brain cells die from reading her POV. Charlie has a problem with seeing movies inside her head (?? I know.), making it hard for her to know whether what she sees is reality or not. I get that Riley Sager was going for the unreliable narrator trope, but this seems like the stupidest way of doing it. It didn't add anything to the story besides making it hard for us, the readers, to grasp what was going on. 

Being a film student, Charlie likes to flaunt her knowledge of movies, such as Hitchcock, Star Wars, Jaws. You know, the movies basically everyone with a TV are aware of. If you say "You're gonna need a bigger boat" she'll instantly know what movie it's from! Eye-roll. It made Charlie seem even stupider, which was no easy feat given her entire personality. Based on the premise of the book, I assumed that her movie knowledge would end up coming into play with the cat/mouse dynamic of Josh and Charlie. But that didn't even remotely happen, which is such a wasted opportunity. 

My other main issue with the novel, was the writing itself. It was just... bad. It felt like a first draft that badly needed editing. Some paragraphs had a word repeated dozens of times. It had a major case of telling rather than showing. Huge info dumps of things we really didn't need to know. Extremely poor dialogue. The plot twists didn't make sense. And it had the one thing you absolutely can't look past when it comes to thrillers.. plot holes. Huge ones. Just about everything in this book was unrealistic. 

If this book was instead a parody, I could maybe get on board. But this was actually meant to be taken seriously..? I'm flabbergasted how someone wrote this, let alone how it got published. I've read better Twilight FanFiction (not trashing on FanFiction, I read way too much of it). It's actually quite sad, as I think Survive The Night had the protentional to be great. Good idea, absolutely terrible execution. 



!!!! S P O I L E R   W A R N I N G !!!!


So, the heck was with that ending? If you have no interest in reading this novel but want to know the plot twist, I've got you. So.. Josh actually isn't the Campus Killer (shocker, I know) but he has been hired by the mother of Charlie's dead friend to basically kidnap Charlie and take her to the diner where the woman works. The woman blames Charlie for the death of her daughter as Charlie left her at a bar the night she was murdered. Charlie, not yet knowing this, stabs Josh and runs to the diner for help but naturally gets drugged, taken to the home of the woman, and beat up. Meanwhile, Charlie's boyfriend from college is trailing Charlie as he thinks she's in danger from Josh. Plot twist! Charlie's boyfriend is actually the Campus Killer. It ends with Charlie and her boyfriend (well, I guess ex-boyfriend by that point) driving off a bridge into water and Charlie drowns him. Extra plot twist! Charlie sells the movie rights to her experience and ends up married to Josh. Yup, the guy who essentially kidnapped her. How romantic.

Need I actually say anything about this? It's dumb. So dumb. I saw the twist of Charlie's boyfriend being the Campus Killer in roughly the first 20 pages. But I talked myself out of it because surely it wouldn't be that obvious/stupid, right? Wrong. I don't know what I hated more, the entire plot twist or the fact that Charlie wasn't murdered by her boyfriend when they first met because he could tell "SHE WASN'T LIKE OTHER GIRLS'. Face-palm. Why Riley Sager, why?

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