What a disappointment. I loved Riley Sagar’s previous suspense novels, Lock Every Door and Home Before Dark. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend Lock Every Door highly enough, I loved every thing about it, it was twisty and still believable.
Lock Every Door reminded me of Rosemary’s Baby, and Home Before Dark is about a house and a family like in The Amityville Horror. Rosemary’s Baby and The Amintyville Horror are probably the scariest movies I’ve even seen. Something about blend of normal family life and something horrible and inexplicable just gets me.
In Survive the Night, the horror movie reference is movies in general. College student Charlie has an obsession with old movies, both in a Quirky Girl kind of way, and in a hallucinations appear like movies in her mind kind of way.
In the beginning of Survive The Night, Charlie’s left reeling after her roommate and bestie is murdered by the Campus Killer, a serial killer she’s struck before and has still totally unknown. Charlie decides to head home to her grandmother, and gets a ride from a random stranger also using the campus’ ride board to head back to Ohio.
But as the drive goes on, it seems less like Josh is a random student looking for gas money, and more like he knows too much about Charlie and about her friend’s death. Or she’s paranoid and crazy. Or he knows and he’s messing with her. Or she’s paranoid and crazy. I read about a third of this book, and couldn’t take any more of Charlie sitting in the car with Josh, who is either a serial killer or a random guy who needs gas money.
I was disappointed because Charlie’s hallucinations seemed like an annoying get-out-of-plot-free card. I like a thriller with a slightly unreliable narrator, but discovering that the whole book was actually all lies is my absolute least favorite horror reveal. I’m also not a big fan of crazy as a plot device.
Still, Survive The Night was getting so many great reviews on bookstagram, I thought maybe I’d been too quick to put it down, and I tried again. Here’s my spoiler-filled reaction, with details of why I wasn’t really a fan, but like I said, most of bookstagram is crazy about this one, so don’t read my spoiler complaints if you’re planning to read the book!