The Lying Game by Ruth Ware: A Book Club’s Review

This past week my book club got together to discuss Ruth Ware’s thriller The Lying Game. Although we all come from a similar background (the vast majority of women at the meeting are elementary teachers at the same school), the takeaways from the book were broad. Overwhelmingly, about half of the women for various reasons DNFed the book *womp womp* so we spent the first half of the discussion spewing spoilers and getting everyone familiar with the plot and conclusion. I thought this was good for the group as a whole to refresh, because some women who had finished the book had done so a while ago, and forgotten some of the story over time.

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

Told from new mom Isa Wilde’s perspective, the story follows her as she meets her best friends in Salten to sort out recent events. Along with Isa there is Fatima, the devout Muslim mother and doctor, Kate who never left, and Thea, a woman living fast and on the edge.

For the most part, the book club did not like any of the characters. It was difficult to relate to any of the friends, and there was not one you felt compelled to root for. Some scenes also seemed unrealistic, so it was hard to immerse yourself into the story.

Almost everyone also agreed that the buildup to the story was long, and the better first half of the book was slow. Our club felt that some of Ware’s descriptions were unnecessary to the plot and did not serve any sort of purpose. Personally I found the flashbacks sprinkled throughout the beginning as distracting and confusing, and wish there had been some more distinction from the main story.

The whole group was surprised by the ending, and it is definitely a book that packs it in until the last page. Those who read Ware’s other book The Woman in Cabin 10 said they prefer this one more because the pace is a little faster.

Next book club read will be a departure from our last couple of thrillers with The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeanette Walls. Has anyone read the book or seen the film? The movie was released a few weeks ago, and if the book is anything like the trailer (the book is always better than the movie), I know there will be some tears.

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