Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

First Lines: Fade in. Parking lot. The middle of night. The middle of nowhere.
It's November 1991, and movie-obsessed Charlie Jordan has decided to quit her university studies and go home for good; however, this means using the campus ride board and accepting a ride from a complete stranger.
The complete stranger is Josh Baxter, who says he's going home to Ohio to care for his sick father. Charlie is going home because she can't overcome her grief and guilt over the murder of her best friend, Maddy, who was the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer.
But the longer Charlie sits in the passenger seat, the more suspicious she becomes. There are too many holes in Josh's story about his father, and why he doesn't want her to see what's in the trunk of his car? As time passes and they travel further down a dark empty highway, Charlie becomes convinced that she's riding in a car with the Campus Killer.
Is Josh really the Campus Killer, or is Charlie's mistrust due to her movie-fueled imagination?
Riley Sager has created the perfect creepy scenario in Survive the Night. It's an homage to the movies-- in particular Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (one of my favorites). A campus in fear of a serial killer, an incredibly risky mode of transportation, and a young woman who dons a red coat and begins a journey to her grandmother's house by getting in a car with someone who may be the Big Bad Wolf. When I put those last three things together, I have to admit that I smiled, and... in case you're wondering about campus ride boards, they did exist. That's how I got from Provo, Utah to Phoenix, Arizona (and back) one spring.
Charlie Jordan is a very unreliable narrator. She's been raised by her grandmother after the death of her parents in a car accident. She's overcome with grief over the murder of her best friend. She's on medication. When she becomes anxious, she starts playing what she calls "movies in her head," so dear reader, you're not always going to know if what she says is happening is really happening at all. One good thing about Survive the Night is that Charlie does come to a better awareness of herself throughout her experience. The question is, is she going to survive long enough to make use of her newfound knowledge?
I have a feeling that most of you are going to love this book. I know I almost did. But in the end, it fell a bit flat. Why? Because I started deducing too many of the twists before they happened, and that really takes the sparkle off a book like this. But even though Survive the Night did lose some of its shine for me, I still found a lot to appreciate. It's going to be interesting to see what Sager comes up with next.  
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
ISBN: 9780593183168
Dutton Books © 2021
Hardcover, 336 pages
Thriller, Standalone
Rating: B-
Source: Purchased from The Poisoned Pen Bookstore.


  1. It doesn't hit the spot for me. One reason is that a woman who took what she thought was an Uber car was murdered within the last year. That story has been on the news several times.

    So I'll skip this one.

  2. I was eagerly awaiting this one, snagged a copy and then the poor reviews flooded in. You enjoyed it though? I am still going to read it.

    1. Yes, I enjoyed it. I wouldn't rave about it, but I liked how he put a lot of the elements together.

  3. I do like Riley Sager's books, and am looking forward to reading this one and seeing how it compares to his others... and if I can figure out some of those twists, too.


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