Well, I’m flabbergasted – and not in a good way. “Survive the Night” was supposed to be a quick mystery/thriller diversion which quickly turned out to be a roll-your-eyes and hit your head against some hard surface to distract yourself from the intellectual pain this book evokes.
In Sager’s newest work – and I mostlyenjoyed his earlier ones – we meet Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Maddy, was murdered barely two months ago by a stranger. The “Campus Killer” who is still at large and – presumably – on the prowl to find their next victim.
The killer’s modus operandi is to grab their victims when they’re alone and ideally at night. Since there were at least three known murders before Maddy’s, everyone is alert, there are brochures about “re-taking the night” and, of course, Charlie is fully aware of all of that.
Now, after the initial shock has worn off, Charlie decides to (more or less temporarily) move back to her grandmother. How to get from her campus to her place in Ohio, though? Wait a few weeks till Thanksgiving and drive home with her boyfriend? Take public transport?
No, that’s too obvious for dear clever Charlie and, thus, she smartly decides to take a ride with a complete stranger. A stranger who seems suspicious to her before she even enters his car. At night. Alone. For a multi-hour trip.
What could possibly go wrong?!
This is the premise of the story and it’s completely ludicrous. Wait, though, because it’s still getting “better”: Since the murder Charlie suffers from clinically-diagnosed hallucinations and, thus, got prescription meds against them. She doesn’t like them, though, so she just throws them away and prefers to zone-out from reality from time to time. While on the road with the afore-mentioned suspicious stranger…
Now, one might assume a young person to have at least enough brain to trust oneself more than a random stranger. Not so in Charlie’s case: Josh, her suspicious stranger, is more trustworthy to her than herself. Duh.
Even if we accept that without judging such foolishness, it remains a fact that Charlie always makes the worst and most idiotic of all possible choices. An example: While in the hands of Josh and knowing full well that something is horribly wrong, they meet a police officer. Charlie ponders asking for his help but ultimately decides against it because she doesn’t want to endanger him…
Charlie’s ideas of trustworthiness are rather simplistic anway:
»He’s still catching snowflakes, for God’s sake, his tongue hanging out like a dog’s. That’s not something killers do. Kids do that. Nice people do that.«
Anyway, all the “twists” can be smelt from miles away, every new revelation made me roll my eyes and pretty much everything about this book is so infuriatingly bland that I’m still wondering if Sager really wrote this.
To sum it up: If you’re into reading how an extraordinarily intellectually-challenged young woman gets into a car with a suspicious stranger, only to proceed making all the wrong decisions and, accidentally, surviving the night; then, yes, go ahead, read this book and afterwards proudly proclaim together with me: “I survived this book!”