Page Count 324
Publication date December 2021
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
Written in third person, Sager tells the story of Charlie; a University student who’s best friend Maddy has been murdered by The Campus Killer.
Unable to continue with her studies Charlie opts to return home by way of a night time ride share with Josh, a stranger she meets at the university signboard.
But Josh is not who he said he was. Yet how can Charlie tell the truth from his lies when she cannot trust her own mind?
Charlie hallucinates whenever her emotions are heightened and her awareness of this condition leaves her (and the reader) uncertain of what is really happening.
Uncertain of what she might have seen the night Maddy was killed.
Uncertain of what is real…
I found Charlie to be a little pithy as a main character although she does have a decent development arc. As for Maddy, I’m glad we only read of her posthumously- I think she’d have irritated me beyond belief in person.
Survive The Night taps into the very current topic of women’s safety as Sager taps into the understandable paranoia we all have to maintain in order to keep ourselves out of harms way. Highlighting the difficulty of distinguishing gas lighting and determining where true danger lies.
As is always the way with Sager novels the road is not at all straight. Survive The Night is much more than a tense car ride with a killer.
The plot twists rain down thick and fast as the ending approaches, one with an epilogue that for once I really appreciated.
I perhaps would have liked better motivations for the evil actions within this story, but maybe that’s the point- some people just are.
The critical thinkers among us could find a few plot holes, but who needs to with a story as fun as this one? The pacing is standard for a thriller, holding the readers interest with layers of burning questions as Sager ramps up to a chaotic ending.