Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Posted On 16 December 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review: Conflicted with Likes and Dislikes


Survive the Night is an unusual book.  I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, it made me furious at times and I couldn’t stop reading it.  Without doubt it went where I didn’t expect but unfortunately I think this is a classic case of too little too late.

The story begins on campus where Charlie Jordan is looking for a shared ride home.  Charlie’s best friend has been murdered by a serial killer and she can stay no longer in the place where her memories have become torture.  Unexpectedly, given the time of year, it appears that someone is going her way, Josh Baxter is similarly in a rush to return home and offers to take Charlie with him.  The thing is, can Charlie trust Josh or is this road trip about to take a nosedive into hell?

Okay, I do like the premise for this.  And, I did want to love it.  As it happens, although I can’t say this one wowed me, it was strangely addictive and I seemed to read it at breakneck speed BUT – so many frustrating things. Just, so many.

To be fair to the author he got the period right, this story wouldn’t really fly right at all in the current era but set back in the 90s it definitely has the ‘it could just happen’ factor.  Sager also does a good job of making both characters untrustworthy leaving you in a constant state of suspense.  Charlie isn’t exactly reliable and to some extents I found her difficult to get along with.  She has this whole escaping into her head condition going on where she seems to completely disappear into the land of make believe with almost cinematic movies playing out in her mind rather than what’s really taking place.  I really struggled with this concept to be honest and I’m not totally certain that I really understood it – but given some of the other things taking place I decided to just go with the flow.  Josh comes across oddly, sometimes evasive, sometimes as though he’s baiting Charlie, he definitely knows too much about her and he seems to waiver between good guy/bad guy.  So, both characters are a bit dubious and definitely leave you doubting yourself – which is impressive as this is what Charlie is undoubtedly feeling too.

I also have to hand it to Survive the Night – it’s a book that I simply had to complete, there was never a chance that this was going to be a DNF because I needed to know what the heck was going on.  Which leads me to the conclusion which delivers a couple of twists that I really didn’t see coming at all – well more than a couple if I really consider it.  And, I have to say that was certainly an unexpected ending.  A little bit crazy, a little over the top and a lot twisted – my jaw literally dropped.

So how come this one didn’t knock my socks off?  Well, firstly, Charlie drove me mad.  I didn’t buy her need to get off campus that very night, especially when her boyfriend had offered to drive her in a couple of days.  Then there’s the whole standing outside by yourself in the dark waiting for a stranger to rock up in his car.  Of course you would.  Then there are the times during the trip where she has the chance to escape the situation but doesn’t take it.  Just some of her decisions were so off the chart annoying that even the ending couldn’t redeem it – although the author does make a good go of it.  Plus, I wasn’t on board with who had engineered the whole escapade and I think there was a certain point of the story where the author gave away a little too much too soon.

All that being said I can’t deny that this was a story that held me in it’s grip. I think if you’re looking for a quick read that will intrigue you enough to push through any little annoyances and that will in fact give you a couple of real ‘wtf’ moments then give this one a shot.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars


10 Responses to “Survive the Night by Riley Sager”

  1. Tammy

    I’m strangely fascinated by your review and so curious now. I may have to try this some day😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is a strange book, frustrating but compelling. The twists go some way to setting things straight but in a way it was such a rushed feeling. You should try it though.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Reading your description of Charlie I feel compelled to slap her soundly – and I’m only getting to know her second-hand! 😀 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I mean there is a twist at the end that kind of turns thing around and is interesting, – but till that point I was definitely in the mood for a little slapping!
      Lynn 😀

  3. alburke47

    Your review would be very close in comparison to mine. I did like it, but some of Charlie’s choices pushed the unreliable narrator idea to the limits.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Lol, made you furious at times but you couldn’t stop reading it – that describes this book so well, I felt the exact same way!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, shame the ending couldn’t by that point totally redeem it.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Rebecca

    LOL, you’re the second person to say this book was just wildly infuriating! I think I’m going to steer clear of Riley Sager for the sake of my sanity!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Hah, yes, this was slightly frustrating – the ending turns things around a little but maybe a little too little too late. Still, compulsive reading.
      Lynn 😀

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