Survive The Night by Riley Sager #BookReview

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It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

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I’m a fan of Riley Sager’s books – I read all of them – so I was thrilled to receive an ecopy to read from the publisher via Netgalley. Although I do admit having a few favorites, Sager’s novels never let me down and Survive The Night is yet another corker!

After Charlie’s best friend Maddy is killed by The Campus Killer, Charlie is filled with grief and she feels incredibly guilty for leaving her friend behind on their night out. Charlie is desperate to get away from school and find solace at her grandmother’s house and that’s why she puts up an ad at the university notice board and finds a ride with the unknown Josh.

You have to suspend some disbelief if you want to get the most out of this novel. First off, Charlie is well aware that anyone can have bad intentions and she’s anxious about it, yet she gets into a car with a total stranger without a problem. She doesn’t even make her boyfriend wait with her to see this stranger and check out the scene. Hmm, that’s a bit crazy, right? It’s probably the first but definitely not the last stupid choice she makes that night. It was fun though to see how she gets herself into so much trouble and to worry about her safety. It’s impossible not to root for Charlie in this novel.

The one thing I didn’t really like was that Charlie is turned into an unreliable narrator because she sometimes ‘checks out’ and sees ‘movies in her head’. The result is that you have no choice but to question what is real and what isn’t? It’s a little like an alcoholic character having blackouts, I’m not a fan of this either so I was afraid it wouldn’t work for me after a while and I wouldn’t stay on team Charlie but I’m happy that the author managed to keep me onboard. I was fortunate that the story wasn’t entirely hung up on this technique and we don’t get stuck on it.

The story is fast-paced and even though I now know what’s coming I’d probably still be hiding behind a pillow if Survive The Night is adapted on the big screen. The night was dark, the tension high and unsettling. Is Charlie really getting a ride from the Campus Killer? What are his intentions, why get her in the car when he could have killed her already on campus? How is she going to escape? It is only the start of a very wild ride! My mind went in circles of yes, no, maybe, and I don’t know anymore. I wanted the author to put me out of my misery and when the truth came out my heart certainly did a little flippety flop! The twists in this novel were numerous and I did not see ANY of them coming! Hence why I loved this novel so much :-).

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

10 thoughts on “Survive The Night by Riley Sager #BookReview

  1. I also read this from Netgalley, but the movies in her mind and the so many many stupid decisions Charlie made, put me off the book. I do love to read reviews of books that I also have reviewed to see what others think. I’m glad you enjoyed this one more than me. Thats what makes bookblogging interesting…..and of course all the books 😉
    Amanda

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    • I’m the same, I love reading reviews of new books that seem interesting to me but also of books that I have read. I guess I did enjoy it slightly more. Hopefully we’ll both really love his next novel as much as the other! Thank you for letting me know your thoughts Amanda, it’s always a pleasure! 😘

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  2. My review of this is coming up 🙂 I have to admit that out of all the Sager books I’ve read, this is the one I have been least impressed with. I mean it was an OK read and I finished it quickly but it just didn’t measure up to the previous ones.

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    • I agree with you, I loved his previous novel about the haunted house completely! I attended an online author event at an ungodly hour (I thought it was UK time but it was US so at 1 am I gave up sleep to attend) and he says he doesn’t write a lot of drafts of his novels and for this one there was also nearly no editing being done… maybe he should have tweaked a thing or two about Charlie. I get his move to make Charlie herself unreliable but for me she didn’t really need to have these movies. As for her poor choices, well I guess she’s not the perfect protagonist that we’re used to. I look forward to reading your review!! Xx

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      • That’s interesting to know! I guess he is one of those authors who edits as he goes… he has the security of knowing people who like his other books will read it anyway though! My favourite was Lock Every Door, I liked the nod to Rosemary’s Baby.

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    • I suggest you pick a moment you’re in a forgiving mood because Charlie does make some stupid choices so I don’t know if it would go the right way this time. It’s not my favourite title either but he can get away with a lot for me and I still love his amazing twists 🙂

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