Never Have I Ever; A Lying Game Novel by Sara Shepard is the second in the story of Emma, a girl who finds her twin a little too late. Enjoyable, fast-paced and unpredictable, this book is a great choice for teens twelve and older.
Sutton, her twin, was murdered and Emma arrives in Tucson just in time to take Sutton’s place under duress from the anonymous murderer. Her life is threatened if she doesn’t, and she’s determined to find out who killed her twin sister.
The story is narrated by Sutton, the dead twin. For some inexplicable reason, Sutton is tied to Emma and must follow her every move. It’s an interesting device to show the differences in the twins, and the reader will find that Sutton, in life, was not a nice person.
Of course, the dead Sutton cannot remember much and what she does remember comes back in sporadic flashbacks — scenes that serve to both illuminate and further mystify the reader.
Emma, on the other hand, makes a much better Sutton that the original. She is nicer to Sutton’s sister, Laurel, gets better grades, and makes better choices. But her main purpose in the deception is to unmask the killer while trying to stay alive.
There are new suspects, but of course they are red herrings because there’s more in the series to come. The only one Emma’s told the truth to is her friend Ethan. They both want to take the relationship into more than just a friendship but Emma keeps getting cold feet and backing off.
Themes in the series include friendhsip, cliques, abuse, bullying, and family. Because of the nature of the series, it would be difficult to use these books for classroom reading or book clubs — there are simply too many books that would have to be read to get through the whole story. But these are a good choice for reluctant readers because of the immediate involvement and plot.
The book won’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t read the first book, The Lying Game. This is really a series that needs to be read in order, and readers just might want to reread the first book before reading the second so they remember the events. The characters and the subplots are many and could be confusing to a reader who forgot much of the first book.
This review was based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Harper Teen, for review purposes.