Short Review #36: Survive the Night by Riley Sager (2021)

Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Survive the Night: A Novel
Author: Riley Sager
Published: 2021 (Dutton, Penguin Random House)
Pages: 324 (Hardcover)
Genres: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
CW: Murder, Crime, Violence, Brief Gore, Car Accidents, Mental Illness, Rated-R Movie References

My borrowed copy of Survive the Night outside of a cabin in Alaska

Was anyone else excited to pick up this title? I was for sure! Since Sager announced his newest book sometime last year, I’ve been really looking forward to it. Like many other thriller fans, I really enjoyed his other titles, some I reviewed in the past and are linked in the following: The Last Time I Lied, Lock Every Door, Home Before Dark, and Final Girls. But I just finished this book during my vacation to Alaska. By the way, I finished TWO whole books on vacation! Maybe the key to truly enjoying reading is while you’re on vacation…. I’m no expert though, it had been a long time since I was on a vacation. Anyways, after finishing Survive the Night by Riley Sager, I was definitely impressed by the end!

In that moment, she understands that she’s in charge of her own destiny. She’s Ellen Ripley. She’s Laurie Strode. She’s Clarice Starling. She’s Thelma and Louise, kicking up dirt in a final fuck-you as they choose freedom over life. Their choice. No one else’s. Now it’s Charlie doing the choosing” – Riley Sager, Survive the Night

It’s 1991 and film enthusiast, grieving college student Charlie Jordan, needs a ride home from her New Jersey campus after a tragedy. She meets Josh Baxter through a ride share board on campus, and she agrees to have him drive her home in the middle of the night in exchange for sharing gas money. As Charlie gets to know Josh during the drive, she suspects he may actually be a serial killer. Will Charlie survive the long drive home, or is it all in her head? Survive the Night is a work of suspense that leaves the reader questioning what they’re reading. The story is told over the course of the drive, and there are clear transitions between chapters. I also loved how he wrote the main character’s inner thoughts, I think it was one of his more introspective female leads. In all of Sager’s books, he always has a female lead and the perspective is from her view.

She blamed herself and hated herself and punished herself because that’s what women are taught to do. Blame themselves. Blame the victims. Tell themselves that since the Angela Dunleavys and Taylor Morrisons and Madeline Forresters of the world had sat through the same lessons on assault…. It must have been their fault they were attacked. Or raped. Or killed. No one tells women that none of it is their fault. That the blame falls squarely on the awful men who do terrible things and the fucked-up society that raises them, molds them, makes excuses for them. People don’t want to admit that there are monsters in their midst, so the monsters continue to roam free and the cycle of violence and blame continues” – Riley Sager, Survive the Night

Overall, I really liked the story for such a campy title and plot lines! The sequence flowed fantastically, and I think this was my favorite development out of all his books. I think this is his best well-written novel yet, he’s definitely been developing his writing. But as for my favorite story, I’m impartial to Lock Every Door. The movie references were also on par, and I have to admit I was geeking out over them. This was the fastest I ever read one of his novels too, I was definitely invested! My only real negative was that the twists felt a bit forced and cheesy towards the end, but I’ve gotten that impression from some of his books in the past. But sometimes I get tired of thrillers handing out some of the cheesiest plot points more than other book genres… Why should you read this book? If you’re a Riley Sager fan, or if you love campy thrillers with killer movie endings, this is the book for you.

I give this one a 4 out of 5!


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