"Three Truths and a Lie" by Brent Hartinger
I have a special place in my heart for cabin vacations.
Despite the fact that I’m a giant wimp who watches enough Dateline to think that my death by murder is not a matter of if, but when, I delight in holing up in some secluded log cabin and doing pretty much nothing.
My enjoyment of (temporary) cabin life probably has something to do with the fact that, when on a cabin vaca, you can switch from coffee to wine at 11am.
It was almost certainly my affinity for cabin escapes that allowed me to immediately connect with the four teens in this novel, who ventured way out of cell phone range to a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.
This unlikely group is comprised of Rob – our protagonist and narrator – along with his boyfriend, Liam, Liam’s best friend, Mia, and Mia’s boyfriend, Galen.
The high schoolers intend to put their independence to the test with this spontaneous weekend retreat, having some fun, playing some games, drinking some beer, having some sex…
You know, typical cabin stuff.
Unfortunately for them, all doesn’t go as planned. Shortly after they arrive at the cabin, odd things start happening.
Basically, the kinds of things that have normal people thinking, “Mkay, time to head back to civilization.” But *Unnecessary Spoiler Alert* they don’t head back.
As the odd events intensify in severity and increase in frequency, it becomes clear that something is amiss and that they should try to escape.
Unfortunately for them, by that point in time their one source of communication – a satellite phone – has been destroyed and their only means of escape – a car – has been disabled.
This leaves readers wondering and worrying right along with the characters.
What the fuck is going on, and is there really any way out?
While it might have been my love of cabin escapes that initially pulled me into this novel, the story retained my attention by its own merit.
The characters were realistically flawed, which made them endearing.
Similarly strong was the setting – which served a critical role in this book. The permanently damp Pacific coast rainforest, in which the vast majority of the action took place, was haunting and described in such engaging detail that I frequently found myself fighting off shivers as I read.
Obviously, given these strengths, I was pretty into this book for the vast majority of the read.
As I was reading, I was thinking, “Wow, this is a solid three cocktail, maybe even a four…”
Then the ending happened.
Holy fuck, the ending.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time, prior to reading this book, that I was truly surprised by an ending.
But this one.
Utterly unexpected and shocking.
Yet, oddly believable.
It was difficult to find fault with this book, given the engaging premise and the masterful storytelling. The only point that I could mention in that regard is that the sex (of which there was plenty) was a bit explicit – especially for YA (and, let me clarify, I’m not a prude, but I didn’t need to hear again and again how he could smell his lover’s “musk” on him #JustSaying).
This small critique, however, was certainly not enough to reduce my enthusiasm for this surprisingly stellar novel.
It easily earns a coveted 5 out of 5 cocktails.
Want to see what’s next on my reading list? Follow me, here.
Aside from drinking, obvi, my favorite thing to do on a cabin vaca is read. (Usually I read while I drink, TBH). Where is your favorite place to read? The beach? A cabin? Your tatty old sofa? Tell me about it in the comments, below.