Thriller: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Written by: Maisie Knights, Books Editor

Set in an upstate New York summer camp, The Last Time I Lied is a fast-paced novel filled with unpredictable twists and turns. The book’s narrative flows back and forth between the past and present day, following protagonist Emma as she navigates returning to the summer camp she once attended as a teenager. Now an adult, Emma grapples with the trauma and survivors guilt of being the last person to see her old cabin mates alive. Suspecting there is more than meets the eye at Camp Nightingale, Emma rapidly uncovers a can of worms, secrets and lies. Riley Sager remains a mastermind at building suspense and thrilling tension, executing surprising plot twists with just the right degree of shock factor. The Last Time I Lied is a personal favourite of mine, simply because of the unique setting of a summer camp, but also for the depth. There are key themes such as trauma and guilt, something which thrillers often skirt around in order for a more exciting story. For fans of slasher film franchises such as Friday 13th I highly recommend this novel; it should be a staple thriller in everyone’s library as an exciting, fast-paced read.

Romance: Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Written by: Megan Bigsby, Staff Writer

Sally Rooney’s novel Beautiful World, Where Are You focuses on two complex best friends, Alice and Eileen, who hold a nihilistic view of the world as they come up to their thirties. Their lives are inspired by Rooney’s herself with Alice being a successful novelist and Eileen working for a literary magazine. They are both unlucky in relationships and the novel follows their journey falling in love with the characters of Felix and Simon while simultaneously falling back into love with their friendship. Beautiful World, Where Are You portrays multiple layers of love and how they can form. The novel includes the typical trope of childhood friends falling for each other through Eillen and Simon, and a more modern take on dating in which Alice meets Felix on an app, causing them to increasingly become close. Continuing with the theme of flawed and unlikeable characters in Rooney’s novels, all four of them, although oftentimes insufferable, are intriguing and fascinating despite their imperfections. We see Alice’s unstable mental health unfold causing friction between the four characters. Rooney is able to present these unlikeable personalities in a way which readers can still relate to, making us feel more satisfied with our own mistakes and highlighting the complexity of romance, which is often messy and unfulfilled, yet beautifully intimate. 

Fantasy: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Written by: Yesenia Mahe Darlington, Staff Writer

A hostile land and never-ending chaos. Strange skies and incomprehensible futuristic science. It seems as if the Earth itself is alive, and the only ones capable of harnessing the necessary power to ensure the survival of humankind, are the oregenes. Petrified at the thought of them using their abilities as a weapon, those without such talents strip their kind of freedom. But, when the end of the world is imminent, so is the upheaval of society’s entire structure. A tale of rejection and chosen family, of betrayal and compliance. It all starts with a murder and a missing daughter.

N.K. Jemisin is the first ever author to win ‘Best Novel’ back to back for every book in a trilogy series throughout the entirety of the Hugo Award’s 65-year run. She manages to excellently interweave elements of fantasy and science fiction, making the story world seem almost tangible. A dystopian element is also tied in, through her unflinching portrayal of race, as she explores aspects of prejudice and fear. Her masterful world-building and portrayal of the complexity of people lead to answers that demand to be pieced together into a heartbreaking story of humanity. 

Categories: Arts Books

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