The Lying Game



Suspenseful series starter full of pranks and mean girls.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Well, this is reading... and, as the start of a new series, teens may want to continue to the next installment.

Positive messages

This book doesn't exactly glorify pranks -- Emma is sort of horrified by how Sutton and her friends act, as is nice Ethan -- but readers will still see rich, popular girls backstabbing each other and doing many mean things to one another.  

Positive role models

Mostly, this book is full of characters that readers of clique lit books will recognize -- snotty, label-obsessed, back-stabbing girls. Emma is a bit out of that, being a smart girl with a hard life -- and she is trying to figure out what happened to her twin.


Sutton is murdered and narrates the book as a ghost. The girls play mean pranks on one another -- and Sutton's twin Emma fears for her own life.


Sutton's boyfriend plans a romantic first time for the two of them -- not realizing he is actually making the moves on her twin. Emma's foster brother tries to see her naked.


A sprinkling of "s--t," "crap," bitch," etc.


Lots of label dropping as Emma adjusts to Sutton's life of luxury: Tiffany, Mark Jacobs, iPhones, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Emma's foster brother smokes pot. Emma plays a drinking game with Sutton's friends. Thayer's seduction includes glasses of champagne.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is the first book in a series written by the same author who penned Pretty Little Liars. Like that series, this one features a group of rich, popular, label-loving Mean Girls who backstab each other and pull pranks. At the heart of this book is the murder of a teen girl -- and her twin is in constant danger as she tries to solve the crime, suspecting Sutton's sister, friends, and more. Emma is a bit of an outsider, and is shocked by the girl's behavior, providing readers with a more relatable narrator than many of these kinds of books -- but the pranks are intense enough that the author includes a plea to her readers to "please don't try any of these Lying Game pranks at home."

What's the story?

A mistreated foster girl learns that she has an identical twin living a privileged, popular girl's life not far away -- then discovers Sutton's been secretly murdered. Assuming her identity, Emma is soon living a life of luxury, but is being threatened by her twin's killer. Soon, she starts suspecting everyone in her twin's prank-playing clique, including Sutton's own younger sister. The book is narrated by the dead Sutton, who admits she is the \"trickiest member of The Lying Game by far.\"

Is it any good?


The suspense here is really pretty good; readers will suspect everyone that Emma does as she goes from one precarious situation to another. Not much new ground is covered here -- and nothing is tied up at the end -- but readers who like these kinds of books will find this to be fluffy fun.

Readers familiar with the genre should know what to expect: The girls in Sutton's clique shop, throw elaborate parties, steal boyfriends, and plan mean pranks. Emma is an outsider -- she shops at second-hand stores! -- and is shocked by the girls' pranks, calling the clique's Lying Game "scary and intense and way too dangerous." This makes her a bit more relatable narrator than many of these kinds of books. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the clique lit series. Why do you think books like the Gossip Girl books and The Clique series are so popular with readers? Are these just guilty pleasures -- or do readers learn something from these books?

  •  Emma learns about her long-lost twin after seeing a video of her posted on YouTube. Parents may want to check out Common Sense Media's YouTube advice for parents, and take this opportunity to discuss their own house rules with kids. 

Book details

Author:Sara Shepard
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:December 7, 2010
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

This review of The Lying Game was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byavengedsevenfold April 25, 2011
I loved this book, i'm fourteen now. Trust me, by the age of thirteen, most teenagers know a lot more than you think. This book is definitely not iffy for anyone over 16.
Parent Written byGaga Fan September 6, 2011

Watch to show for your gulity pleasure fix, vs. reading the book!

The book is much racier than the TV series, which is toned down almost to lameness. *Caution* teens who think the series will mirror the book will be disappointed! Anyway, I'm not sure under 14 year olds are ready to be exposed to "snuff videos" and kinkiness. Definitely for an older teen who is sensible and can distinguish between reality and fantasy and has a good set of values. If your child is reading this for suspense, mystery, thriller value, fine. But if you're concerned she may be looking for role models, beware, these girls (except Emma) are over the top mean and nasty.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byI izz awsom February 16, 2011


i loved this book and I'm 13 this should be rated lower for about... on for 12+ its really suspenseful! Emma is a great roll model because she knows which decision is the best!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great role models


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