First Sentences: I'd always thought the afterlife would be like an eternal stay at a resort on St. Barts--hot French waiters bringing me fruity drinks until the end of time, the azure Caribbean sky in a permanent sunset, a cool ocean breeze tickling my forever tanned skin. It would be my reward for living a full, fabulous, long life.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
A Quick Synopsis: This fourth book in The Lying Game series shares the same premise with its predecessors. Hide and Seek follows Emma Paxton and Sutton Mercer, identical twins, separated at birth and adopted by different families. They never knew each other...until Sutton was murdered. Now Emma steps into the shoes of Sutton, desperate to avenge Sutton's death and possibly return to her own life. But imagine you're Emma. The question is, do you stay in hiding or do you actively seek out the killer? Even if the killer could be someone who goes to your school? And even if the killer could be living in the same house as you do?
The Review: I've said it before (in my review of a Pretty Little Liars book) and I'll say it again: if you're reading a Sara Shepard book, you've come for the plot (or because of the TV series' plot) and you're going to stay for the plot that eventually gets ridiculously convoluted, with its unbelievable twists and such. The characters are not the book's main focus. But surprisingly, I found myself really enjoying Emma in this book. As opposed to the Pretty Little Liars, Emma is the ultimate good girl, but she's learning that she can tap into her "inner-Sutton" at times, thus not making her a good girl 100% of the time. This makes her eminently likeable and relatable to (come on, guys, everyone's wanted to be bad at some point in their lives, we just never had the guts to do so), as well as always developing and dynamic.
Emma's boyfriend/friend, Ethan, is also very likeable. Whereas the Pretty Little Liars never had any stable relationships with boys, Ethan and Emma are very loyal and trusting with one another. It's definitely the type of relationship that a teen's parents would approve of, rather than a Pretty Little Liar's relationship.
However, as mentioned before, the main attraction here is the plot. So let's discuss that. In the previous one or two Lying Game novels I (along with many other readers, I'm sure) felt that the plot was becoming repetitive and formulaic. Emma would suspect someone of being her sister's killer, then be dead sure that she'd found the murderer, only to have a dramatic encounter with them in the end that proved that they didn't do a thing. Well, in Hide and Seek, gone is this formulaic plot. But strange as it is, the removal of such a formula has a drawback. There is next-to-zero action now since there is no dramatic encounter. There are hints of suspense throughout, but Hide and Seek just didn't grab me and thrill me as much as its predecessors did. In the end, all we get is a revelation, that, as huge as it is, does not make up for the lack of action.
Overall, Hide and Seek is, in my opinion, just a "meh" addition to the Lying Game series. Like the other books, it does end on a killer cliffhanger, so you may want to savor the pages as you read. Thankfully, the title and release date of Book Five have already been announced, so get ready on February 5, 2013 for The Lying Game #5: Cross My Heart, Hope to Die.
Maybe my mom and Ethan were right--maybe Laurel wanted everything that was mine. And maybe, just maybe, she had killed me to get it all.
Inappropriate Content Notifiers for Parents (possible spoilers!):
-Sex/drugs: Not much sex or drugs in this volume; however, The Lying Game series so far as a whole has plenty of both.
-Language: Full array of cursing words, said by surrounding characters and main character.
-Violence: Teenagers play pranks on one another. A character gets hit by a car.