Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Thriller, Horror, Kidnapping, College Students
Survive the Night is about Charlie, a college student, traveling across a few states lines with Josh, a stranger. The year is 1991, and the Internet isn’t really in everyday use, and iPhones are just short of twenty years out. In this day in age, there is a pinboard on campus called a ride board. Here students can post where they are headed and arrange company, or at least people who can chip in for gas.
Recently, a serial killer murdered Charlies’ best friend. She’s having difficulties processing her emotions, so she decides to take a sabbatical and return home to Ohio.
When you are stuck in a car for hours upon hours, you start to chat with your trip companion. Charlie is getting to know Josh, but something seems off. His story isn’t adding up. She starts to wonder, is Josh a serial killer? Charlie needs to get out of this situation, but how?
Survive the Night is written in the classic Riley Sager style. So, if you’re already a fan of Sager, I see no reason why you won’t enjoy Survive the Night. Now, if you haven’t read any other of Sager’s books, I wouldn’t start with this one. I would instead begin with The Last Time I Lied or Lock Every Door. All his books are stand-alone.
Sager gives off some Dean Koontz vibes. However, he doesn’t really add in the paranormal twists that Koontz is known for. But he does match the easy, not-to-intense style of Koontz, as compared to the detailed and intense style of Stephen King.
For me, Survive the Night was four-stars. I enjoyed the ride the entire time. I would have gone in a different direction for the ending, but it wasn’t horrid. I enjoyed the suspense and getting to know the characters. The “movies” were a little weird, but you’ll see that when you get there.
I cared about Charlie and her welfare as she’s a sympathetic character; however, Josh is pretty two-dimensional. Nothing particular stands out about him. Sager could have done a little more in Josh’s character development.
Survive the Night wasn’t impressive or satisfying. However, it was enjoyable for the most part. I’m glad I read it, as I’m a fan of Sager; however, I would suspect if this is your first Sager book, you might not be too thrilled to read his back catalog.