Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive The Night by Riley Sager is a psychological thriller set in the late 20th century. Charlie, a university student, decides to carpool with a stranger on a long road trip from her university back to her hometown after experiencing grief from the murder of her best friend/roommate. However, she realises that the man driving her might be the serial killer that the police are looking for (this is not a spoiler since it’s revealed from the beginning).

I chose to read this book because, as a fan of the mystery/thriller genre, Riley Sager has always been one of my favourite authors. So, I knew that this would be a great read regardless. The book leans more towards the thriller/adventure side rather than being a mystery for the reader to figure out. We, as the main character, know who to be wary of from the start, instead of trying to figure it out throughout the book. The best way to describe the storyline is a psychological cat-and-mouse game that unfolds throughout the night.

In terms of engagement, this book was very captivating and kept me on the edge of my seat most of the time. In fact, I initially started listening to the audiobook while getting ready for bed, but ended up downloading it onto my laptop to finish it quickly because I literally couldn’t fall asleep without knowing how the book ended. The execution of this book was amazing; the author masterfully built up the tension throughout the story. However, the actual plot wasn’t very cohesive. It wasn’t predictable or lacking in originality, but it just didn’t make a lot of sense. I think the author tried a bit too hard to make it as elaborate as possible, but it ended up feeling very forced. The main issue I have with this book is the way Charlie, the main character, is portrayed. I don’t mind an absence of character development in a novel, and I actually prefer the focus to be more on the plot in a thriller. However, in Survive The Night, all the decisions Charlie made were extremely questionable. For context, she is a film student who seems to be very passionate about her work, but her actions throughout the book didn’t align with her supposed intelligence and survival instincts at all – especially when taking into consideration the increased paranoia and scepticism the author tried to instil in her character after her best friend was murdered by a serial killer. There were times where I physically felt annoyed and wanted to stop reading because of the poor decisions that were made. I do understand why she had to make certain decisions to make the overall plot reveal at the end make sense, but everything about the story seemed too forced and contrived. This made it especially hard to relate and empathise with the characters, which Riley Sager had actually done pretty well in his previous books, specifically in using the Final Girl trope in its namesake book. Nevertheless, I enjoyed how references to films and movies were made throughout the book, paying homage to Charlie’s passion and tying up the story nicely.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t exactly recommend this book because of the complicated plot and frustrating characters, but Riley Sager’s novels overall are definitely worth a read. If you are looking for thrillers with hints of mystery elements, I would recommend Final Girls (which was his debut and most known as his best novel) or Lock Every Door (which is my personal favourite). While the previous two books I mentioned were both 5-star reads, I would rate Survive The Night 3 stars. Although this book was just as gripping as the others, it was harder to enjoy due to the main character being so unrealistically naive. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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