{Review} THE BEST LIES by Sarah Lyu

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    YOU NEVER KNOW when it's the last time. 
    You never think, this is the last time I'll ever see his smile, shy and full of secrets meant only for me, the last time I'll ever hold his hand or kiss his face or lose myself in the warmth of his brown eyes. 
    Jack's gone now and there was no time to say goodbye. To share one last smile, a final kiss.
    I'll never see him again.

(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

“This was the start of an adventure, the beginning of the rest of my life. We were a forest fire, wild and full of rage. We were a galaxy unto ourselves, a million stars blazing bright. Everything was possible then.” 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: There aren't enough YA thrillers. Teens love a good mystery or suspense that keeps them on the edge of their seats, but they aren't there in bulk the way other genres are. Thanks to the success of popular adult psychological thrillers such as GONE GIRL and GIRL ON THE TRAIN, the genre has been booming in adult fiction and slowly having a trickle effect in YA. I think I've said that every time I've recently reviewed a YA thriller, and there have only been a handful. If you're looking for a few more to add to your TBR Pile, check out my recent reviews of THE WINDOW by Amelia Brunskill, TRULY, DEVIOUS by Maureen Johnson, WHEN by Victoria Laurie, THE OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight, and WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook.

As always, thrillers are hard to review without giving away a lot of the plot, but it was the initial summary that hooked and intrigued me. Remy has just lost everyone she loved in one evening. Her boyfriend Jack is dead, and her best friend Elise was the one who pulled the trigger. Now police want to know what happened that night and Remy is at the center of it all...

Is Remy an unreliable narrator? Is she telling the truth? How much can you trust her? This is always at the center of adult psychological thrillers, and it's nice to find a YA book where the readers also question whether or not a narrator is trustworthy or unreliable. Remy absolutely knows more than she's tell us, and it's up to readers to unravel the truth as they follow her journey.

It's also rare to find a YA novel centered so strongly on friendship. The heart of this one is more about the relationship between Remy and Elise than it is Remy and Jack. It twists between the past and present and shows how the two girls meet and get swept away into an all-consuming friendship. Not only that, but it's absolutely a toxic friendship, only neither girl can see it. They aren't good for one another, and they shape each other's future in new and lasting ways. We often see novels of obsessive romantic love gone wrong, but rarely explore the love of friendship and how it, too, can rot and turn bitter.

Remy and Elise both come from broken homes. Elise lives with her abusive father, but doesn't talk much about him or tell anyone else what she's going through. While Remy's parents are still married, it's only for appearance. The two have gotten into horrendous arguments over the years and whenever her father gets fed up and says he'll leave, her mother threatens to be a crazy mom like people see on the news who goes nuts and kills her kids. She also ignores her daughter in favor of her favorite child, Remy's brother Christian. Remy and Elise become friends because they both see how the other is just as broken as they are and can relate because they've both been through something traumatic. They are now family. And family does everything to protect one another, right?

If you're looking for a good YA thriller that explores toxic friendship and has a murder at its heart, look no further than the brand-new release THE BEST LIES by debut author Sarah Lyu!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing; a heavy makeout/fade-to-black ) 
Language: PG13 ( Language, including the F-bomb ) 
Violence: PG13 ( Non-graphic and off the page, but one character is murdered off the page before the book begins, and one character is injured severely by a parent in a flashback that also happens off-page)
Other: PG13 ( Underage drinking and smoking; parent fighting and mention of divorce; physically and emotionally abusive parents )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I think the lollipop is kind of artistically smeared instead of messy and goes like it would actually be, but I also like how bright and cheerful it looks. At the same time, this whole cover looks breezy and cheerful. It looks like a perfect summer contemporary read. Then you pick it up and it is a thriller revolving around murder and toxic friendship, so not exactly light and breezy. The only hint of it on the cover is the blurb, "Obsession can poison even the sweetest of friendships," which I guess is why there's a lollipop on the cover to begin with!

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sarah Lyu
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Received: For Review

 Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.