This was my first Riley Sager book and as soon as I finished I put holds on the others at my library because I just had to read more of his clever, thrilling writing and incredible twists. I ended up liking Final Girls even more but this was a fantastic introduction to Riley Sager’s writing.
Rating: 4 stars!
Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: car accident, grief (parents and close friend), murder, stabbing, suicide, kidnapping, torture.
About the book:
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.
What did I think?
This book. Wow. I actually listened to the audiobook of this one, which is an experience that I highly recommend. I was hooked to the last page, and even when I finished work I kept listening while I did my chores so that I didn’t have to leave the story until I was finished.
Survive the Night is a compelling page-turner of a story, a YA thriller that leans into the fear of being trapped with a stranger to create a claustrophobic sort of fear that left me so, so worried for our main character, Charlie. Charlie is running away from college, trying to get some space and get home to Ohio so she can recover from the guilt and grief she feels about the loss of her best friend, the most recent victim of a serial killer called the Campus Killer.
The time setting for this book was a perfect choice. With no mobile phones, Charlie is truly stranded the moment she gets into the car, so when she starts to realise that Josh might be lying about his identity, she has nowhere to go but onwards. Additionally, Charlie suffers from intense visual hallucinations. These are described in the book as ‘movies in her head’, but are very much a trauma response that Charlie is coming to terms with. I really enjoy the way these are portrayed. I haven’t had hallucinations in a hot minute, but it felt authentic to me in the way it was shown and the way Charlie handles them, and I loved the depth they added to this book as Charlie had to work out whether it was Josh or her brain that was gaslighting her, and by extension the reader. It took ‘unreliable narrator’ to the extreme, and I really enjoyed it.
I was completely taken in by every single one of the plot twists in this book. It had me screeching into Andee’s DMs the entire time, as Riley Sager dragged me along for the ride. I finished this book and immediately put a hold on another Riley Sager book at the library because I was sold on this excellent writing style and clever plotting. The ending was a little… out of the blue, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this book, a lot of which came down to Charlie herself. I adored Charlie as the main character. She has strong final girl energy, and I loved how brave she was when I would have just immediately given in and died. It made it so easy to root for her the whole way through, and I was ready to see her kick ass by the time I started getting suspicious of Josh.
Release Date: 23rd December 2021