Narrator: Arielle DeLisle, Erin Spencer
Published by Balzer + Bray
Published on 25 October 2016
Genres: Thriller, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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The Stranger Game is a dark, suspenseful, and twisty young adult novel—perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart—about fifteen-year-old Nico Walker, whose sister returns home after a four-year disappearance.
When Nico Walker's older sister mysteriously disappears, her parents, family, and friends are devastated. But Nico can never admit what she herself feels: relief at finally being free of Sarah's daily cruelties.
Then the best and worst thing happens: four years later, after dozens of false leads, Sarah is found.
But this girl is much changed from the one Nico knew. She's thin and drawn, where Sarah had been golden and athletic; timid and unsure, instead of brash and competitive; and strangest of all, sweet and kind, when she had once been mean and abusive. Sarah's retrograde amnesia has caused her to forget almost everything about her life, from small things like the plots of her favorite books and her tennis game to the more critical—where she's been the last four years and what happened at the park on the fateful day she vanished. Despite the happy ending, the dark details of that day continue to haunt Nico, and it becomes clear that more than one person knows the true story of what happened to Sarah. . . .
I’m cultivating a new love for YA thrillers, and The Stranger Game is so far a quiet gem for me.
It began with the return of Nico’s missing sister, Sarah. Except that Sarah seemed… not quite right. Instead of being a total psycho bitch, cruel to both her parents and her younger sister, this Sarah was quiet, withdrawn… and nice. Grateful, even. Polite. Helpful.
Nico seems convinced that she’s not the same Sarah.
I thought that Niko wasn’t being particularly fair, since Sarah had been missing for four years, beaten, tortured, starved, sexually abused. Her extreme personality makeover could be explained by the result of this trauma on a fifteen year old girl.
The narrative, although fast-paced, takes its time to gently unravel its many twists and mysteries, and compounding that with unreliable narration, made it a book I didn’t want to stop listening to. The author is adept at leaving hints, throwing down subtle red herrings, and planting concrete evidence. But which is which?
As Nico reveals more of her own past trauma, and her relief at Sarah having gone missing, we also get Sarah’s point of view. Sarah claims she can’t remember anything, so traumatic it must have been. The police keep questioning her, but they can’t get answers… until someone thinks they know the truth of what happened to Sarah the day she went missing.
In this book there is no romance, no rich white girl problems, no circle of friends. It’s all about the sisters and their complex relationship, both past, present, and future. I can’t really say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it, and it’s better if you go in not knowing much, but I really recommend it if you’re into mysteries (really, where have you been all my life?!)