So I read this book because I managed to get pretty much all the books by Sara Shepard for $0.50 each at a flea market, and I cannot turn away from a deal like that. I've seen most episodes of The Lying Game on TV, because I have a major weakness for teen soaps. The book was much more suspenseful than I was expecting, because the mystery in The Lying Game usually comes across as kind of tame and really disjointed. In the book, there are at least real stakes involved from the very beginning. Also, the mystery is centered on finding Sutton's killer from the very first page.
I like the characters well enough for what the author is going for. In the first book of the series, the readers are supposed to be kind of weirded-out by all of Sutton's friends. No one is particularly well-rounded, but all the main female friends have enough personality traits to at least tell the difference between them. So far, both of the guys are kind of boring. Ethan is kind of the stereotypical perfect boyfriend that all the main characters in these sorts of books get. Garret is almost a complete blank. Because everyone needed to remain a suspect for at least this first book, we do not find out much about anyone. No one is as sympathetic as they are in the television show.
There are some problems with the narration. I don't know that it necessarily adds too much to the novel, and I think it really harms the unveiling of clues. The reader always knows more about the mystery than the main character, killing any suspense. We also do not really get to experience much of Emma actually thinking about what she is discovering, because it is usually filtered through Sutton.
The biggest problem is that Emma is a lazy detective. She doesn't really actually do a lot to solve the mystery. I knew when I started the series that I should not expect to be getting any answers in the first book, but Emma barely made an effort to follow any leads. It isn't until towards the end of the novel that it even occurs to her to do a little active snooping that should be obvious, especially for someone that dreams of being an investigative reporter. For an example, it does not occur to Emma to even look around the house for clues until near the end of the novel after she has been living in the house for over two weeks.