by Cylin Busby
To be published on October 25, 2016
by Balzer + Bray
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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. . . .
My take: Really enjoyed this one, even though, weirdly, this is the third YA book I've read in the last few months that's about an abducted child who's returned to his or her family. The Stranger Game was more of a psychological thriller, like Lost and Found, than a character-driven issue book, like Afterward.
Nico's sister Sarah has been missing for four years and her family is shattered. Then one day, the family receives a call from Florida: Sarah has been found. Nico and her parents fly down to pick Sarah up. After false hope and false fear, all their hopes are realized: the girl is Sarah. Definitely. Sarah's parents are beyond happy and work hard getting Sarah re-integrated into her old life. Everything's finally the way it used to be ... or is it? Is Sarah's family just seeing what they want to see?
The Stranger Game was very well-crafted and suspenseful. I liked the way the alternating perspectives of Nico and Sarah were used to add suspense and to slowly reveal the story of Sarah's missing four years. Some readers may guess the ending. I didn't. (spoiler) I thought the idea that Nico was responsible for Sarah's disappearance was too obvious, but I guess it wasn't! (end spoiler) But I enjoyed the journey of this one. I liked the writing style and the story structure. Will definitely check out this author's future books!