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Friday, December 17, 2010

Who Killed Sutton Mercer? Frankly, I Couldn't Care Less.

(Image from Indiebound)

Something's always been missing in 17-year-old Emma Paxton's life. And it's not just because her mother dropped her off at a friend's house when she was five and never bothered to come back. It's more than that. It's almost like a piece of herself is missing. When she sees a You Tube video of a girl being strangled, Emma's shocked - not just because of the violent images, but because the dead girl looks exactly like her. Even if the video's some kind of sick joke, one thing is certain: Somewhere out there, Emma has a twin sister.
Sutton Mercer, also 17, wakes up in a bathtub in a house she's never seen before. Primping in the mirror is a girl who looks exactly like her. Confused, Sutton tries to get the girl's attention, only to be completely ignored. No one in the house can see or hear her. Considering her body seems to be fading, Sutton can only come to one conclusion - she must be dead. Only she can't remember how it happened. She can barely remember anything. All she knows is that she's now somehow attached to her twin sister, a girl she never even knew existed until now.
As Emma digs into her long-lost sister's life, she discovers a girl living the kind of existence Emma's known only in her dreams. Sutton's beautiful, wealthy, popular, loved and, as far as she can tell, not dead. When she receives a Facebook message from Sutton, it's all the encouragement Emma needs - she hops a bus to Tucson. Before she knows what's happening, Emma finds herself living Sutton's life. Since Sutton is nowhere to be found, it's obvious that's something's happened to her, but what? Did she take off voluntarily, thinking that Emma could just step in and take her place or did someone steal Sutton's life from her? The more Emma learns about her sister, the stranger the whole situation gets. Can she figure out what happened to Sutton before she, herself, is discovered? Before she, too, disappears?
Sutton longs to help her sister, tries to remember, but everything's so hazy. Can she harness her beyond-the-grave powers to help Emma solve her murder? Or will she be forced to stand by and watch while someone kills her sister?
As intriguing as its premise is, The Lying Game by Sara Shepard falls flat due to poor execution. The writing's clumsy, the characters are almost wholly unlikable and the story goes nowhere fast. It's the first in a series of four books, so I didn't expect Emma to find the killer in the first book, but still, it seems like she makes no progress at all. Sutton's presence is just irritating since she does almost nothing to advance the story. If you can't tell, I found the whole novel frustrating. Still, I picked it up again after abandoning it twice, so I guess that says something. The premise continues to interest me, but the series doesn't. Frankly, I couldn't care less what happened to Sutton Mercer. And that's no lie.
(Readalikes: A little like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold)
Grade: D
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (1 F-bomb), sexual innuendo, and depictions of underrage drinking/smoking/drug use
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of The Lying Game from the generous folks at Harper Teen. Thank you!


  1. Too bad! Because reading through the premise I kept thinking, "Wow, I think I kinda care who killed Sutton Mercer..." It's a shame when a great (or at least intriguing) premise is ruined by poor execution.

  2. Sounded interesting... but then again, I never cared much for pretty little liars & after reading your review, I think I'll pass.

  3. I thought this book was okay. I liked the thought of it, its definitely original, so thumbs up to Shepard for that. However, I admit that I did skip a good chunk of the middle purely because I became bored with her walking around pretending to be Sutton. I got it. No need to keep droning on!!! I really did enjoy the character of Ethan though, and I hope he does not turn out to be the murderer!!!! Overall, I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

  4. Thanks! for sharing

  5. I don't know what your talking about, but I really enjoy this book. She always knows how to pull her readers in and keep them reading, and at least her book series are somewhat different from each other unlike some authors who write about the same subject with different characters. Clearly it's a book for teens, then.

  6. are u kidding me that is the best series in the world don't listen to what they says because these books are the best books i have ever read and i have read a lot of books!!!

  7. I dissagree, this book is my favorite.But I think Ethan is the killer.

  8. I love this book! I have all 3 books and I am waiting for the last one next. In case you guys didn't know, Thayer Vega returns in book 3. And after book 3, you'll think it was Laurel who murdered Sutton. If it was, then why would she kill her own sister? Her own flesh and blood? But Laurel ISN'T her flesh and blood. Emma needs to watch out, because the killer might be closer then we think. I also think it is Garrett, Sutton's (now ex) boyfriend, because in book for, I was reading the preview and it said Laurel and Garrett was sneaking around, as if they have a big secret. Together. So anyway, love it and I hope Ethan isn't the murderer......

  9. i dont think it was ethan it was probably garrett and sutton's friends

  10. This book is really good and it is not boring in the least bit. You can't have the plot move to quickly in the first book if the series is going to be long. If it moved unreasonably quickly, i'd probably dislike it. I don't understand why you arn't interested in the book, but it is geared towards teens. The killer is someone the author doesn't want you to suspect (obviously) like Ethan (least suspicious in a way).... almost everyone else seems to much in the open and everyone else calls out "suspicious"

  11. Well, the target audience is teens. Maybe thats why you dont like it.

  12. I love this series and I can't wait until the last boom comes out. Personally I think Ethan killed Sutton. Why? Well there are so many reasons. In the 5th book, it is said that the last place Sutton was before her death was Sabino Canyon, which is across the street from Nisha and Ethan's houses. Also, Nisha was found dead facedown in her pool in the 5th book, Ethan could've easily done it because he lives next door. I forgot which book it was but Ethan hacked into a security website thing that showed who teepee'd the school, if Ethan could do that then he could have easily hacked into Sutton's computer and sent Emma that message. And when Ethan freaked out about Emma going through Becky's records, he had to be hiding something more than what that file said. The very last reason is that the killer has to be someone you least expect and frankly I don't think Emma would suspect Ethan, not in a million years. The killer also has to be watching her and Ethan is usually with her.


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