“Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.
Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.
Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.
As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.
Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.
A game of cat and mouse is about to play out. In order to win, Charlie must do only one thing . . . survive the night.”
Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager. Survive the Night is published by Hodder & Stoughton today (that’s Thursday 29th July 2021) and is available in audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Survive the Night but that has in no way influenced my review.
I am currently suffering the biggest book hangover thanks to the divine Survive the Night. Regular readers of damppebbles may be aware that I am a huge Riley Sager fan. Sager’s debut, Final Girls, is one of my very favourite books (I have a Final Girls wallet!). Home Before Dark, which was published last year, was one of my favourite books of 2020. If Riley Sager writes it, I want to read it. Getting my mitts on a copy of Survive the Night sent me a little giddy with joy. I devoured this book. I feel bereft now that it’s over. But one thing’s for sure, I know nothing else I read for a while is going to come anywhere close to topping Survive the Night.
Charlie has had enough of College and wants to return to the comfort of her home and Nana Norma. Her boyfriend, Robbie, isn’t able to drive her to Youngstown for a few more days but Charlie can’t wait any longer. Putting her trust in a stranger, she advertises on the ‘ride board’ for a lift. Which is where she meets Josh Baxter. He seems nice enough. She’s cautious, of course. As a movie buff and a Film Theory student, she knows what can happen when you climb into a car with a stranger! She’s desperate to return home though. The need to escape Olyphant University and everything that happened there is great. So she reluctantly accepts the risk. Telling herself over and over again to be smart, be brave and be careful. But as the journey progresses, Charlie starts to think she’s made a terrible mistake. Could Josh be a serial killer after all…?
The first thing I need to say about Survive the Night is that it felt quite different to the author’s previous books. I would classify Sager’s books as predominantly mysteries, but mysteries which err on the side of horror. Survive the Night felt more crime noir than any of his previous novels. Movies play a big part of the plot, which may have given the book a different feel. Or it may be the overall vibe of the story (the long drive into the night with a complete stranger). Or perhaps it’s because it’s set in 1991 and the author has excelled at putting an aged/retro feel into his text (no matter what you say, 1991 wasn’t THAT long ago! Thirty years is nothing, right…? 😬). I can’t put my finger on exactly what gives Survive the Night its utterly hypnotic and immersive appeal, but I loved it. If this is the direction the author has chosen to go in, then I’m all for it!
I adored Charlie. If you’re a fan of the unreliable narrator then oh boy, you need to get yourself a copy of this book! Charlie, having lost both parents in a car accident when she was younger, and having to deal with the trauma of a double funeral, now experiences ‘movies in her mind’. Hallucinations to the rest of us. These vivid scenes play out in front of her and only afterwards, when she has ‘come to’ does she realise they weren’t real. Unfortunately for Charlie, the occurrence and the clarity of these ‘movies’ is on the increase. Which Josh uses to his advantage…
I was a little concerned, before starting the book, that a tale about a six hour long road trip could end up being a little dry. I needn’t have worried. It’s anything but! As realisation dawns on Charlie, an intricate game of cat and mouse begins in the confines of Josh’s Grand Am. The tension builds beautifully, unease and suspicion mount and it’s a glorious, hypnotic thing!
Would I recommend this book? 100%, YES! I loved Survive the Night. Everything about it was perfection on a page. The twists are weaved into the story masterfully. One in particular I was able to guess but as you can see, it certainly didn’t spoil my reading experience at all. Plus there are lots of other really clever little details thrown into the story to keep you gripped and turning the pages. Sager has excelled himself. I feel as though I lived this book alongside the characters. Absolutely bloody marvellous! Tense, all absorbing and utterly captivating. Highly recommended.
I chose to read and review a free eARC of Survive the Night. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Survive the Night by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton on 29th July 2021 and is available in audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |
Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.
Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries.
Riley’s next three books, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His upcoming thriller SURVIVE THE NIGHT will be published this summer.
A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”