Riley Sager has made a name for himself in the book world with his twisty page-turning thrillers. His newest, Survive the Night, takes us back to 1991, when a college student accepts a ride from a stranger that she’ll come to regret.
Charlie is guilt-ridden and grieving over the loss of her roommate and best friend Maddy, who was killed after Charlie left her outside a bar. Unable to finish the semester, she agrees to a ride home to Ohio from a man heading in the same direction. She knows this might be a bad idea, as there’s a serial killer out there – Maddy is the third woman to be killed, and there’s a detail in common to all of the murders that was not released to the press.
Charlie ignores the warning signs that getting into the car with Josh is a bad idea, but it isn’t long before she starts suspecting her life is in danger – picture Whoopie Goldberg saying, “You in danger, girl.”
There’s only one catch – Charlie experiences hallucinations, and she isn’t always sure what she’s experiencing is real or not. Josh might be the Campus Killer, but he might not be. Charlie is also a classic movie buff, and just about everything she knows about life she learned from a movie.
I have mixed feelings about Survive the Night. It’s eminently readable, I flew through it in a weekend, reading mostly at bedtime and in the morning. Given a free afternoon I would have finished it in one sitting. However, the direction the plot ends up going is a little unbelievable, and it’s really hard to believe Charlie would be so dumb as to get into the car with Josh to begin with, knowing there’s a killer on the loose.
I couldn’t figure out where the story was going and the big reveals were a surprise, and I really liked one revelation at the very end. Fans of Sager’s other books and those who love classic movies will enjoy this fast-paced thriller.