Title: The Stranger Game
Author: Cylin Busby
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
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. . . . (goodreads)
The Stranger Game isn't the most unique in the genre, but it is fun and fulfilling read!
Plot: The Stranger Game grabbed my attention as soon as I started reading it because it interweaves past and present actions as well as the missing sister's narrative. Its strongest aspect is that it feeds the reader little clues as to what happened and allows its audience to draw its own conclusions until the great reveal. Mystery novels are so prevalent in the Young Adult genre, so it's almost impossible to be completely original. The Stranger Game is not a unique mystery whatsoever which really showed in the last 20 percent of the novel. I thought the ending was a very underwhelming, but luckily that did not detract from my overall enjoyment.
Characters: As mentioned earlier, The Stranger Game is told from two perspectives - Nico and her newly returned sister, Sarah. They aren't the most fleshed out characters, but their relationship is explained fairly well to the point where I thought I had a good understanding of what drove them. I really liked that Nico is a normal high school girl. She has boy troubles, body image issues, and just dealing with little sister expectations. I lived to learn more about Sarah's time in captivity since her chapters were shorter and not as consistent as Nico's chapters.
Worldbuilding: There isn't anything remarkable to note about the worldbuilding in The Stranger Game. I can't decide if the diversity is lacking since only Nico's family is really described as being white. Other characters have vague references to their hair and eye color, but no obvious racial markings.
Short N Sweet: The Stranger Game is a page-turner in every sense of the word. Mystery lovers will want to get their hands on this one!