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The Lake

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Hot on the heels of The Twin, the undisputed queen of YA thrillers is back with a scary and suspenseful read about a summer camp filled with dark secrets. Esme and Kayla once were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They're excited to be back this year as CITs (counselors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it's funny how scared they are of everything-- Hot on the heels of The Twin, the undisputed queen of YA thrillers is back with a scary and suspenseful read about a summer camp filled with dark secrets. Esme and Kayla once were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They're excited to be back this year as CITs (counselors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it's funny how scared they are of everything--spiders, the surly head counselor, the dark, boys . . . even swimming in the lake! It reminds her a little of how she and Kayla used to be, once. Before . . . it happened. Because Esme and Kayla did something bad when they were campers. Afterwards, the girls agreed to keep it secret. They've moved on--or so they say--and this summer is going to be great. Two months of sun, s'mores, and flirting with the cute boy counselors. But then they get a note. THE LAKE NEVER FORGETS. And the secret they've kept buried for so many years is about to resurface.


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Hot on the heels of The Twin, the undisputed queen of YA thrillers is back with a scary and suspenseful read about a summer camp filled with dark secrets. Esme and Kayla once were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They're excited to be back this year as CITs (counselors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it's funny how scared they are of everything-- Hot on the heels of The Twin, the undisputed queen of YA thrillers is back with a scary and suspenseful read about a summer camp filled with dark secrets. Esme and Kayla once were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They're excited to be back this year as CITs (counselors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it's funny how scared they are of everything--spiders, the surly head counselor, the dark, boys . . . even swimming in the lake! It reminds her a little of how she and Kayla used to be, once. Before . . . it happened. Because Esme and Kayla did something bad when they were campers. Afterwards, the girls agreed to keep it secret. They've moved on--or so they say--and this summer is going to be great. Two months of sun, s'mores, and flirting with the cute boy counselors. But then they get a note. THE LAKE NEVER FORGETS. And the secret they've kept buried for so many years is about to resurface.

30 review for The Lake

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Bleak, creepy camp setting meets I know what you did last summer movie storyline provides us intriguing YA thriller premise! And when a skillful thriller author like Ms. Preston on board, you may dive into this promising mystery without thinking any further! Two close friends did something really bad at the same location a few years ago, return back as CTs! The storyline is simple and interesting. Esme, more observant, smart, quiet one as Kayla is more pretentious, social, animated : two best f Bleak, creepy camp setting meets I know what you did last summer movie storyline provides us intriguing YA thriller premise! And when a skillful thriller author like Ms. Preston on board, you may dive into this promising mystery without thinking any further! Two close friends did something really bad at the same location a few years ago, return back as CTs! The storyline is simple and interesting. Esme, more observant, smart, quiet one as Kayla is more pretentious, social, animated : two best friends returned back where everything started, forming new friendships, hanging out with hotties but when they start to get threatening message tell them they knew what they did: alarm bells start to blare! The girls are in danger and somebody is in their close circle is after them! I was so hopeful about this book after reading the blurb, being mesmerized by powerful and eerie cover but unfortunately it was too slow at the beginning and I had hard time to connect with the characters and concentrate on the story. When I reached the middle, things finally got heated but the ending was awkward and dissatisfying. Normally I love the author’s action packed, gripping thrillers but this one was a little mediocre reading for my taste. I didn’t hate it but I was expecting more. I’m giving my solid three mysterious, whodunnit, young adult, dark, creepy lake stars! I keep my hopes high! I’m so sure I’m gonna love the next book of the author more than this one! Special thanks to Netgalley and Random House’s Children/ Delacorte Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Review coming soon.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)

    Best friends Esme and Kayla are back at Camp Pine Lake as counselors in training, and Esme is delighted to be back in a place where she loved being a camper. But Esme and Kayla have a secret. The last time they were at Camp Pine Lake, something terrible happened. Something they never told anyone about. But there is one person out there who knows what they did, and they want Esme and Kayla to come clean. They want them to suffer for what they did. They might even want them to die. The lake never Best friends Esme and Kayla are back at Camp Pine Lake as counselors in training, and Esme is delighted to be back in a place where she loved being a camper. But Esme and Kayla have a secret. The last time they were at Camp Pine Lake, something terrible happened. Something they never told anyone about. But there is one person out there who knows what they did, and they want Esme and Kayla to come clean. They want them to suffer for what they did. They might even want them to die. The lake never forgets. I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Random House/Delacorte Press. Trigger warnings: character death (on-page), animal death (on-page), some blood/gore, abduction, fire, guns, severe injury, ableism, gaslighting, threats. I didn’t care for The Cabin, but after The Lost had some minor improvements, I thought I might learn to like Preston’s novels, but no. I’m pretty done with them, and I can’t believe I read this many. The Lake commits one of the biggest sins of a horror novel in being totally, relentlessly boring. It’s hamstrung by its very premise, which is that creepy things are happening at camp–but they can’t be too threatening or dangerous because then they’d send the kids home! Urgh. That prevents anything interesting from happening for 95% of the book. The gaslighting is pedestrian, and even the worst slasher movie probably has more suspense (or at least corny special effects). Just as bad, we’re told right from the beginning who the antagonist is and what their motivation is, and there are no twists whatsoever on that premise. I don’t know Esme well enough to hate her, and she’s just as boring as everything else about this book. Her main personality trait seems to be anxiety and conspiracy theories, and her best friend relationship with Kayla is as underdeveloped and underused as they are in the rest of Preston’s novels. (Since when are best friends just, like, placeholders instead of people we actually know well and trust?) Sad attempts at romance. Sad attempts at making new friends. Sad attempts at gaslighting a bunch of vapid camp counselors. Vaguely offensive/ableist attempts at providing a believable backstory for a villain, who was both abused and disfigured in a fire. Pathetic excuse for a shock ending with no effort to work through any of the issues. It’s like Preston is ripping off all the campy paperback horror novels of the 90s without actually learning anything from their missteps. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    ⭐⭐ This was just not my jam. I should probably preface this: Anyone who is working on tag lines for their novels needs to be careful about giving your readers expectations and then not delivering on them. When this author is described as "the undisputed queen of YA thriller" and someone like Karen McManus is under the same publisher — that is kind of a lot to tout, and definitely makes someone like me, who reads a lot of the genre, look at things more critically because I want to be wowed. Becaus ⭐⭐ This was just not my jam. I should probably preface this: Anyone who is working on tag lines for their novels needs to be careful about giving your readers expectations and then not delivering on them. When this author is described as "the undisputed queen of YA thriller" and someone like Karen McManus is under the same publisher — that is kind of a lot to tout, and definitely makes someone like me, who reads a lot of the genre, look at things more critically because I want to be wowed. Because here is me. Disputing. The Lake is indeed a YA thriller as it claims. But it wasn't an easy one to connect to, it was oddly paced, and frankly, I couldn't find a character to connect to. They barely had relationships between themselves, let alone anything for me to cling to as a reader. This honestly made it an odd and stilted experience. Upsetting, as I thought the cover was both eerie and beautiful and set an entirely different tone than the one that is created at the beginning of the book. The limits placed upon the actual danger left any of the potential risings of stakes to fall flat. This ending was truly bizarre. It did not feel like an ending. The "reveal" that is the bread and butter of any good thriller was so intensely disappointing I almost put the book down entirely. (but I have had many a thriller redeem itself at the end, so I pressed on) and instead, I was left completely bereft. I won't leave spoilers here, but all we are left with is implications and half-formed resolutions. My thanks to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for granting me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. It was certainly an interesting ride.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Permanently_Booked

    Special thanks to the team at @prhaudio for the opportunity to listen to this complimentary audiobook on the #VolumeApp from Penguin Random House! All thoughts are my own. This is my first Natasha Preston and when I saw the rave reviews for The Twin, I was itching to get my hands on this summer camp slasher vibe novel. I’m glad I was able to grab the audiobook because I don’t think reading this one would’ve carried the same experience as listening to it did. Set at a camp where Esme and Kayla wer Special thanks to the team at @prhaudio for the opportunity to listen to this complimentary audiobook on the #VolumeApp from Penguin Random House! All thoughts are my own. This is my first Natasha Preston and when I saw the rave reviews for The Twin, I was itching to get my hands on this summer camp slasher vibe novel. I’m glad I was able to grab the audiobook because I don’t think reading this one would’ve carried the same experience as listening to it did. Set at a camp where Esme and Kayla were once campers, they are now counselors in training learning how to watch over the new arrivals. However, these two share a dark secret and someone at the camp has been waiting to pay them back for their past. I love the 80s creepy slasher camp setup that this novel had but outside of that I did not connect as much as I had hoped. The plot was predictable, the threats were not exactly threatening in retrospect and the reveals were not as mouth dropping in comparison. I also felt that I didn’t connect to the characters. There is a slower overall build to the meat and potatoes of the plot and a lot of decisions I did not find credible for counselors watching over kids. However, those final few chapters and that ending I did not see coming the way that they did. The way Preston executed the closure was perfect to me even if the build-up took a bit to get going. The audio narration was effortless and brought more of Esme and Kayla’s personas into focus. Like I mentioned, I don’t think I would have appreciated as much as I did without the narrator’s skills bringing the atmosphere and chaos to the forefront like she did. I do look forward to more from this author and hope that I can get to The Twin sooner rather than later!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Started off great, got a bit bogged down and silly but I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened and what would happen. Well, I read on and found out, a bit disappointed with the ending.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrisann

    Holy mother of mercy! What did I just read?!? I love how Scooby-Doo-esque this book is. Is the bad guy that person, or this person? I'm one of those people that have it solved pretty early on in the book, and I was shocked by the antagonist. And the ending?!? I won't spoil anything, but I was NOT expecting that! Best NP book I've read since The Lost. Holy mother of mercy! What did I just read?!? I love how Scooby-Doo-esque this book is. Is the bad guy that person, or this person? I'm one of those people that have it solved pretty early on in the book, and I was shocked by the antagonist. And the ending?!? I won't spoil anything, but I was NOT expecting that! Best NP book I've read since The Lost.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    2.5 Stars - Natasha Preston is the author of one of my favorite thrillers, The Lost. Although I didn’t enjoy her other previous books, I still was hopeful for The Lake. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The Lake follows seventeen year olds, Esme and Kayla, who signed up to be CITs at Camp Pine Lake. But, this isn’t their first time going to summer camp. Eight years ago, the girls did something horrible one night at camp, but managed to keep it a secret. When they arrive for the summer they hoped wo 2.5 Stars - Natasha Preston is the author of one of my favorite thrillers, The Lost. Although I didn’t enjoy her other previous books, I still was hopeful for The Lake. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The Lake follows seventeen year olds, Esme and Kayla, who signed up to be CITs at Camp Pine Lake. But, this isn’t their first time going to summer camp. Eight years ago, the girls did something horrible one night at camp, but managed to keep it a secret. When they arrive for the summer they hoped would be full of second chances, Esme and Kayla start to receive threats and malicious messages. Could someone have figured out what they did at camp when they were kids? Will they let the dark truth out? The premise sounded really intriguing, and I did enjoy the setting. It was fun to read about the canoes, cabins, and campers, along with the summer weather. However, that’s about where my likes for this novel end. To start off, this thriller seems a lot more young and childish that the author’s previous books. The “crushes,” “ghost stories,” “truth or dare,” etc. was cringeworthy. The romance and gossip could have been avoided all together, especially since this is a psychological thriller, And the characters... I don’t tend to care if the characters are flat or boring in thrillers since the genre is plot-focused. But there’s a difference from flat and possessing every intolerable character trait known on earth. Esme and Kayla were extremely annoying, but mostly stupid. I rolled my eyes multiple times at how dumb their decisions were, and how just plain ignorant they were as people. Last but not least, the plot in general. This was extremely unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the events that take place in thrillers in general are usually plausible, but this book was just a smidge away from impossible. So we have this sort of mystery of who did it and why, but those two things are answered less than 25% of the way in. So the whole suspense factor disappears since there’s nothing to solve. And then most importantly, we have the fact that (view spoiler)[some teenager has been stalking these girls for years. In the present she is eighteen or nineteen, but she says she’s been stalking Kayla and Esme for at least three years which means she was still a minor. Her parents just let her run off to a different state to stalk people for multiple years without caring where she was? (hide spoiler)] The ending wasn’t horrible, but it was rushed and sort of just “umm-okay.” Also, can I just mention that this book went from extremely childish and immature to (view spoiler)[half the characters murdered in cold blood.? (hide spoiler)] Yeah sooo, other that the setting and the very start of this book, I would personally not recommend this at all. Maybe if you’re younger and looking for thrillers? But I think older readers will just roll their eyes the whole time. Anyways, I’m sure I’ll still read The Fear (2022) when it’s released, since I don’t think I’ll ever lose the unnecessary optimism I have for Natasha Prestons’s books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    This book felt a little like a throwback to the YA horror/suspense by Richie Tankersley Cusick. I kind of liked the nostalgic feel of it and the innocence of it. Mild cursing at best, no sex, a slight reference to a fake ID to buy alcohol, but that’s about it. Even when some characters are revealed to have done something terrible, it’s…mild. It was just so bloodless. Until… Oddly, in the last 15% or so of the book, we turn from mild YA horror into campy, but illogical slasher horror. I mean…it mak This book felt a little like a throwback to the YA horror/suspense by Richie Tankersley Cusick. I kind of liked the nostalgic feel of it and the innocence of it. Mild cursing at best, no sex, a slight reference to a fake ID to buy alcohol, but that’s about it. Even when some characters are revealed to have done something terrible, it’s…mild. It was just so bloodless. Until… Oddly, in the last 15% or so of the book, we turn from mild YA horror into campy, but illogical slasher horror. I mean…it makes no sense! And the end! It’s like BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM whimper - the end. It all fell apart. I keep going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars. I think that the book is suitable for younger YA fans (even when it starts going BOOM BOOM BOOM), but I think a slightly more mature reader will crave something more. 3 stars as it did keep me reading and I did dig the nostalgic feel of it all. *ARC Provided via Net Galley

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dani Clark - Clark Book Reviews

    I absolutely love Natasha Preston. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. Overall, I really liked the idea of the book as a whole. But for me it sadly wasn't one of my favorites. The book started off strong and I was dying to know the secret! It took a LONG time to eventually figure it it. There were pieces here and there that eventually all fit. The middle of the book had a lull and I wish the secret was a bit MORE. However I liked how everything came together. The characters were defini I absolutely love Natasha Preston. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. Overall, I really liked the idea of the book as a whole. But for me it sadly wasn't one of my favorites. The book started off strong and I was dying to know the secret! It took a LONG time to eventually figure it it. There were pieces here and there that eventually all fit. The middle of the book had a lull and I wish the secret was a bit MORE. However I liked how everything came together. The characters were definitely likable, and I enjoyed having their secrets unravel. Preston is notorious for leaving the ending of her books with a massive 'BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???' she didn't disappoint with this one! The ending did seem to have a few plot holes that could be poked but overall I liked how everything was set up and how it eventually concluded. Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ainsley

    The book starts out good and the plot is inruiging. But as it goes on it turns into Esme goes around in circles with her conspiracy theories and accusing random people based on zero evevidence. The only people to ever find any creepy evidence that someone is there are Esme and Olly, although at least 3 more people were involved. As the story went on, you already knew who it was and why, but Esme decided to keep EVERYTHING from EVERYONE, including her best friend (who is completely blind and deni The book starts out good and the plot is inruiging. But as it goes on it turns into Esme goes around in circles with her conspiracy theories and accusing random people based on zero evevidence. The only people to ever find any creepy evidence that someone is there are Esme and Olly, although at least 3 more people were involved. As the story went on, you already knew who it was and why, but Esme decided to keep EVERYTHING from EVERYONE, including her best friend (who is completely blind and denies everything that leads back to this being a real threat). The entire plot is based on Kayla and Esme hiding this huge secret, which really was just an accident that happened when they were 8. It wasn't even a big deal except for the fact that there was collateral damage. They made a blood oath and everything, but they barely did anything. The whole thing is based off Esme's guesses, and you don't find anything out for a fact until the end. Once that happens, everything is way too fast paced and a bunch of people die for no reason. The other characters just fade into the background with no explanation or ending and suddenly we have no idea what happened to them. Overall, the book had a good premise but bad details and endings. It started out kind of slow and ended wayyy too fast. It had a bad ending and the characters were annoying. *Spoilers* The end was crazy. Kayla becomes stupid and goes nuts, Esme back talks someone with a gun and leaves her best friend behind with a murderer. Eventually everyone dies, leaving her with the gun and "no evidence" although Andy has plenty of it to prove it wasn't Esme. This part really made me mad because obviously people knew what was going on, and if they showed the police the initials in the wall and all the evidence pictures the camp director (Andy) took, it would be obvious. Esme could reveal what happened and they could track down Lillian. I mean obviously the whole point was that the only people who knew what really happened died, but it wouldn't be that hard to explain everything. Lillian's DNA is everywhere, there's a cabin in the woods with a dead body that Esme could easily find again, drugged water, two dead deer Lillian killed, creepy notes (some written in her freaking blood!!!), files on the people proving they were lying, and the list goes on and on. The thing that upsets me the most is the fact that it ends with Esme holding the gun and all her friends are dead. Ughhhhhhhhh

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    When Kayla and Esme return to Camp Pine Lake ten years after they were first campers there, they come to the camp as CITs (counselors in training). But the last time they came to this camp, something terrible happened and they took a blood oath never to discuss it. So when they return to camp what should be six weeks of fun with the young campers takes a scary turn when odd things start happening . Creepy messages appear and the girls start wondering if someone knows about their secret. And who? When Kayla and Esme return to Camp Pine Lake ten years after they were first campers there, they come to the camp as CITs (counselors in training). But the last time they came to this camp, something terrible happened and they took a blood oath never to discuss it. So when they return to camp what should be six weeks of fun with the young campers takes a scary turn when odd things start happening . Creepy messages appear and the girls start wondering if someone knows about their secret. And who? Good story, awful ending, but I think teens will like it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When Kayla and Esme return to Camp Pine Lake ten years after they were first campers there, they come to the camp as CITs (counselors in training). But the last time they came to this camp, something terrible happened and they took a blood oath never to discuss it. So when they return to camp what should be six weeks of fun with the young campers takes a scary turn when odd things start happening . Creepy messages appear and the girls start wondering if someone knows about their secret. And who? When Kayla and Esme return to Camp Pine Lake ten years after they were first campers there, they come to the camp as CITs (counselors in training). But the last time they came to this camp, something terrible happened and they took a blood oath never to discuss it. So when they return to camp what should be six weeks of fun with the young campers takes a scary turn when odd things start happening . Creepy messages appear and the girls start wondering if someone knows about their secret. And who? Good story, awful ending, but I think teens will like it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen Vasey

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC of this book. The plot summary seems so fun-two best friends return to the camp where they went as children. Something terrible happened when they were campers which they’ve kept hidden, and now someone is back for revenge. Sounds great in theory, but the execution was terrible. The plot meandered for way too long and while the ending was slightly clever the lead up was so lame. Maybe this will land better with the intended age Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC of this book. The plot summary seems so fun-two best friends return to the camp where they went as children. Something terrible happened when they were campers which they’ve kept hidden, and now someone is back for revenge. Sounds great in theory, but the execution was terrible. The plot meandered for way too long and while the ending was slightly clever the lead up was so lame. Maybe this will land better with the intended age group it’s meant for, but as an adult reading it was not good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Bookbookowl)

    Thankyou to Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Esme is really not sure her and Kayla should be taking a summer job, working at a camp they attended when they were younger. Something happened there the year they were 8 and it’s haunted them ever since. When strange things start to happen, that the others write off as pranks at first, Esme is convinced someone knows what happened all those years ago, and is targeting both her and Kay Thankyou to Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Esme is really not sure her and Kayla should be taking a summer job, working at a camp they attended when they were younger. Something happened there the year they were 8 and it’s haunted them ever since. When strange things start to happen, that the others write off as pranks at first, Esme is convinced someone knows what happened all those years ago, and is targeting both her and Kayla specifically. This one reminded me of when I used to read Christopher Pike books as a teenager. It was fun, but predictable with stereotypical characters and the obligatory immediate pairing up of the boys and girls in the group. The reveals were interesting, but just not all that shocking. I think I was more invested in the story at the beginning, when I didn’t know the secrets, than after they were revealed. The story does have its atmospheric moments, I just wish there were more of them and the secrets were….bigger. The Lake is quite fast paced and would make a good weekend read, where you don’t want to have to concentrate too hard on remembering too many details or characters though. I think plenty of people will really enjoy this one, especially those newer to the genre.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review. I did not like this :( I’m sorry! I really wanted to. It wasn’t well-written and seemed thrown together and not thought through completely. I will say that I enjoyed the setting and could picture the camp clearly in my mind throughout. Also the “something bad” the main characters keep referring to in their past, like...wasn’t that bad? I just expected more.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Haha! What the fuck did I just read! Starting out with my first order of business and the first thing I noticed after finishing the first three pages: the writing in this book is, quite frankly, just not good. I don't know if it was just the author's writing STYLE that put me off (this is the first of Natasha Preston's books that I've read) or if the writing was genuinely bad, but... yeah, anyway. It felt extremely cheesy and I noticed a few of the same grammatical mistake throughout the book, wh Haha! What the fuck did I just read! Starting out with my first order of business and the first thing I noticed after finishing the first three pages: the writing in this book is, quite frankly, just not good. I don't know if it was just the author's writing STYLE that put me off (this is the first of Natasha Preston's books that I've read) or if the writing was genuinely bad, but... yeah, anyway. It felt extremely cheesy and I noticed a few of the same grammatical mistake throughout the book, which was... odd. Secondly, the characters were all so boring and insufferable that it made the book even harder to read. Esme is the most obnoxious main character I've read possibly ever, and Kayla is a horrible friend and equally as intolerable. I'm not even going to get into the hints of misogyny in each of the male characters, because Jake and Olly were so stereotypical it was almost laughable. Hell, who am I kidding, it was definitely laughable. I was excited to see that there was a lesbian character in the very first chapter of the book, but soon immediately disappointed after she was not elaborated on at all and her randomly telling everyone she was gay seemed like an author's try at diversity that was only in the book because every other character was a heterosexual cis white person. Also, I love a good fast paced book - take Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, for example (a book series that I HIGHLY recommend!) - but the pacing of this book was so spontaneous and rushed that there was no time to get my bearings and figure out what was going on with the characters and their relationships with each other. Which, you know, thrillers are more for the plot than the characters, but it's still nice to be able to feel like you know the characters that you're reading about for 300 pages a little bit. Well, before I talk about the next thing that I want to go on about, let me clarify the parts that I LIKED about this book. I thought the forest setting was cool; I love a good forest setting in any book. I liked the camp vibes, as it made me think of the Disney show Bunk'd that I watched when I was younger. I also kind of liked the dramatic endings to the chapters, which is somewhat random, but it was one of the elements that reminded me to keep giving this book a chance. Alright, it's time: the ending. I just... I laughed during most of it. Partly because I couldn't believe that I was reading this bullshit, and also because it was just so random and out of character for the whole book that it was more dumb than 'thrilling.' I'm not going to leave any spoilers here, but I will say this: when you get to the ending of this book, you most likely will not know wether to feel disappointed, surprised (in an odd way), or just annoyed. The ending gave no closure like in a lot of books, but I also won't call it a cliffhanger. Oh, well. So, in the end, I've decided (agreeing with most of these reviews) that this is definitely a better book for younger audiences, despite the weirdness of the ending. If you read lots of thrillers and/or mysteries, you most likely will think this is a ridiculous book. Luckily, it's a quick read, so I didn't waste too much time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellie M

    3.5 stars, but I always round up if the book hasn't been released yet. Would've been higher if it weren't for the ending. *slight spoiler warning* Esme Randal and Kayla Price are returning to Camp Pine Lake to be CITs, but are haunted by a traumatic event from ten years ago that they blame themselves for. In the beginning, everything seems fine, but it's not long before they start receiving threatening messages and campers begin reporting a mysterious stranger watching them. Esme is sure that the 3.5 stars, but I always round up if the book hasn't been released yet. Would've been higher if it weren't for the ending. *slight spoiler warning* Esme Randal and Kayla Price are returning to Camp Pine Lake to be CITs, but are haunted by a traumatic event from ten years ago that they blame themselves for. In the beginning, everything seems fine, but it's not long before they start receiving threatening messages and campers begin reporting a mysterious stranger watching them. Esme is sure that the other girl who was with them ten years ago wants to get her revenge, but Kayla just wants to enjoy the summer. Until the incidents become too obvious to ignore. I always mention how we need more YA thrillers that take place at summer camps, but the ones I've read have all been pretty disappointing. (The last one I read was Nobody Knows But You, which had the most boring "reveal" of all time.) I was sure that The Lake wasn't going to disappoint, but about halfway through, I started to get extremely suspicious of Kayla herself. She never wanted to go investigate with Esme, she would have access to cabin keys, and obviously, she knew about the secret. I was dreading the moment when it would be revealed that it was her all along, but thankfully that didn't happen. The antagonist was exactly who Esme thought it was, but there are several characters who also look like suspects (mostly Rebekah and Olly,) so it isn't bland or boring at all. The way Esme kept talking about her secret made it sound like she'd murdered someone in cold blood, so I was also disappointed about what it turned out to be. (She and her friends accidentally started a fire, and ran away before they could make sure the last girl was okay. No one died, and no camp property was destroyed.) There's Someone Inside Your House did this as well, with something even milder. I guess I was expecting it to be like in Pretty Little Liars, where the girls pushed another girl off a cliff and killed her. Now, onto the worst: the ENDING. I've heard people say the same things about this author's other books, so I don't know what I was expecting. I know that some people like when the endings are like this, but I am not one. I like to know exactly what happens, with resolution and consequences. We didn't see that here. It essentially ended at a climax. Multiple people are likely dead, Esme is alone and could possibly be killed soon (I won't spoil anything else), and it just ends there. It felt like I was reading a book with several missing chapters. We don't see reactions from the campers or head counselor. I've never seen Natasha Preston write a sequel, but now I REALLY want one. I don't care if I have to wait years. I just want to know how everything is resolved.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    I went into this book pretty blind and came out with my eyes opened to a new-to-me author whose books I want to binge read. The Lake tells the story of Kayla and Esme, two teen girls who are returning to their childhood camp, but this time as counselors. They attended this camp when they were 7 and 8 years old, but never returned because of something horrible that happened. What unfolds as they get reacquainted with the camp is the stuff nightmares are made of. Kayla and Esme vowed never to talk I went into this book pretty blind and came out with my eyes opened to a new-to-me author whose books I want to binge read. The Lake tells the story of Kayla and Esme, two teen girls who are returning to their childhood camp, but this time as counselors. They attended this camp when they were 7 and 8 years old, but never returned because of something horrible that happened. What unfolds as they get reacquainted with the camp is the stuff nightmares are made of. Kayla and Esme vowed never to talk of the horrible thing that happened when they were kids, but it seems that someone else knows their secret and is trying to get them to talk. The mystery person goes sneaking around camp leaving creepy notes, causing damage to the cabins, and flat out scaring the campers and counselors alike. Kayla and Esme are torn on leaving camp, confessing, and trying to confront the creepy camp stalker. What happens is they confess? Will they go to jail? What if they leave? Do they put other counselors and campers at risk? And what if they confront the stalker? Is he out for revenge? Does he want to hurt them? What does he want? And why ten years later? This book had me hooked from pretty early on. I loved that the chapters were short, like 10 pages or less, which I always think makes a book fly by. Each chapter also felt like it was a cliffhanger, which of course made me want to read another one... and another one... and another one... The great thing about YA thrillers is that I get to feel like a detective. I always think I have it figured out, who did what, etc. and I had many theories this time too. One theory was so glaringly obvious it couldn’t possibly have been right. Or could it? I went back and forth on who the camp stalker was so many times that at one point I thought every single character was somehow involved. While I had one theory that was partially right, I was way off on a lot of other things that happened in this story. I couldn’t believe the twists and turns this book took, and I was pretty surprised at the ending. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting to happen, which made it even better in my opinion. You need to pick this one up! It’s a quick read, has plenty of twists and turns, lots of surprises, and just overall a tense and heart pounding tale. 5 stars from me, recommended to anyone who loves fast paced YA thrillers!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    The synopsis of this book hooked me right away -- "The lake never forgets" warning, the creepy camp atmosphere ala Friday the 13th, etc. This is the first book of Natasha Preston's that I have read and her writing style is easily a 4 or 5 star quality to hook the reader. Teens will definitely be engaged trying to follow the clues through Esme's viewpoint to figure out where all the increasingly bizarre pranks-not-pranks are leading all the characters. I did care about Esme and what happened to t The synopsis of this book hooked me right away -- "The lake never forgets" warning, the creepy camp atmosphere ala Friday the 13th, etc. This is the first book of Natasha Preston's that I have read and her writing style is easily a 4 or 5 star quality to hook the reader. Teens will definitely be engaged trying to follow the clues through Esme's viewpoint to figure out where all the increasingly bizarre pranks-not-pranks are leading all the characters. I did care about Esme and what happened to the other characters (and about finding more connections between them) especially Olly and Rebekah. This is my reasoning at settling at three stars. (view spoiler)[ What kept this from being rated higher for me: 1) The whole big secret that Esme and Kayla kept seemed a bit too much that 8-year-old kids would have acted the way they did; also there was a lot of "telling" and not even "showing" for me as the reader. 2) The ending, while it could have been tragically ripped from a mass shooting headline, just left me deflated, especially that Rebekah, Olly and Kayla all died, Esme was left holding the gun and Lillian got away? 3) I wanted to know more about the other characters -- Andy seemed to have the most to lose if the camp was shut down; Mary wanted to go to the cops then completely disappeared as did Tia, Catalina and Cora for the most part. 4) Rebekah was set up from the beginning as the main suspect to be working with Lillian -- I would have found it a great twist if she wasn't involved. 5) Also in Chapter 11 (page 74) it mentioned someone named Amy in the flashback was the one who pushed Lillian into the fire -- "Amy called her a freak and pushed her. Lillian fell...." I kept waiting to find out one of the other counselors or counselors-in-training was this "Amy" but then I figured out it must have meant Kayla pushed Lillian. (hide spoiler)] Despite my disappointment in the way the plot twisted, I will definitely read more by Natasha Preston as she really kept me turning pages in this one. CONTENT WARNINGS: violence to people & animals; mild language; recommended for high school and mature tween readers

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Tarzwell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Alright, another Natasha Preston book COMPLETED. And like most of the others, this book was read in only 2-3 sittings. First off, this book was a really slow roll; I was waiting for more action throughout most of the book. I wasn’t very fond of any of the characters; none of them had much depth. It was kind of annoying how many times I had to read “no one can ever know what we did” (in different wordings of course). I never fully understood why (despite her claiming to want to protect the camper Alright, another Natasha Preston book COMPLETED. And like most of the others, this book was read in only 2-3 sittings. First off, this book was a really slow roll; I was waiting for more action throughout most of the book. I wasn’t very fond of any of the characters; none of them had much depth. It was kind of annoying how many times I had to read “no one can ever know what we did” (in different wordings of course). I never fully understood why (despite her claiming to want to protect the campers from danger above all) she never told anyone about Lillian! I also didn’t think the secret was worth all the intrigue and the blood oath. I expected her big secret to be a good reveal, but I pieced information together little by little and by the time she revealed to Olly her secret, I knew everything almost and was wanting more from it. Why is the book called The Lake? The book has almost nothing to do with the lake! Also, by the end I didn’t think something was adding up. In the beginning of the book an “Amy” is mentioned being a fellow camper with them who snuck out the night of the fire, who was the one who pushed Lillian. Later when Olly admits he saw everything that night while watching in the forest, he only mentions seeing Lillian, Esme, and Kayla. What’s up with that? Where’s Amy and why didn’t she get punished by Lillian? After that first time she was never mentioned again. But the ending was wild and kept my on the edge of my seat. I’m always expecting a happy ending, and then everyone is dead except for our main character. When am I gonna realize no one is safe in Natasha Prestons books? It reminded me of the ending in The Lost. Most of the main characters died in the ending too:(. And in the twin, the way her sister pinned everything on her? There were parallels in this book I saw too! Crazy, and interesting stuff. This book wasn’t my favorite of hers I don’t think, but still, if I devour most of it in one sitting, she’s doing something right. Praise Natasha Preston!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Although I appreciated the way the author built suspense in this YA thriller, there are plenty of holes in the story that made it hard for me to enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The character of Lillian is developed in bits and pieces, and it becomes hard to understand what kinds of fears might prompt her to behave as she did back ten years ago. Given that Esme, the narrator, and her best friend Kayla have been haunted for years about what happened back then when they were campers at Camp Pine L Although I appreciated the way the author built suspense in this YA thriller, there are plenty of holes in the story that made it hard for me to enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The character of Lillian is developed in bits and pieces, and it becomes hard to understand what kinds of fears might prompt her to behave as she did back ten years ago. Given that Esme, the narrator, and her best friend Kayla have been haunted for years about what happened back then when they were campers at Camp Pine Lake, I would have liked to have had more detail about the girl they left behind. Information about that night when the two girls, seven and eight, made the biggest mistakes of their lives, is doled out slowly so that readers are kept guessing about those events for much of the book. But Lillian herself remains a puzzle. I can certainly understand her desire for revenge, which she certainly gets once the story concludes, but I still struggled to understand how she managed to pull off some of her pranks and deeds. The author makes readers suspect just about everyone along the way, which made the book fun to read. Why on earth Esme and Kayla would even think of returning to this particular camp after all that time in order to serve as counselors in training is beyond me. And goodness gracious! As the odd events and signs that something was clearly wrong at the camp began to mount up, surely a level-headed director or counselor would have reached out to the police for help or protection. I found myself scratching my head and asking several questions about the whole thing by the time I finished reading. Then again, anyone who's watched a thriller set at a summer camp knows that bad things happen when you leave the group. And ah, yes, it is equally clear that revenge is a dish best served cold, given those long years of nursing a grudge and anticipating how to get back at those who presumably wronged you.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jalynn (ificouldreadallday)

    Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 0.25 stars I did not enjoy reading this at all. The plot was flat, the characters didn't have any depth to them, and the ending didn't make any sense. The writing and characters made this book seem like it was for the younger side of YA, but there are a lot of graphic moments near the end of the book that totally contrast with this. One thing about the ending really bothered me as well. If the Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 0.25 stars I did not enjoy reading this at all. The plot was flat, the characters didn't have any depth to them, and the ending didn't make any sense. The writing and characters made this book seem like it was for the younger side of YA, but there are a lot of graphic moments near the end of the book that totally contrast with this. One thing about the ending really bothered me as well. If the police find you with a gun, they can find fingerprints on it and attach it to the correct person, right? I guess not in this universe. It just felt like, instead of tying everything up, the book ended the way it did to sound "edgy" or "cool". The mystery was pretty lame. This book was definitely not for me and felt poorly done. The premise didn't feel totally fleshed out. It was almost as if the idea for the book floated along and was immediately written without thinking about the logistics of everything. There was so much in here that didn't make much sense. (view spoiler)[Why go through all the trouble of watching four people for TEN YEARS and having them come back to the scene of the crime to get revenge. I mean, seems a little pretentious to me. And not at all feasible. (hide spoiler)] The plot of this book was super unbelievable to begin with. This wasn't an easy read either. It was a struggle to get through the 300 or so pages that this book was. The writing was all telling instead of showing. I found myself noticing that there would be sentences telling me what the characters were feeling or doing instead of showing me. It felt really one dimensional. I feel like this book should have been edited more, but, even then, I don't know if editing could have saved how cloudy this plot was and how bland the writing was.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lashyashy84

    *𝐈 𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫'𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰. 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐍𝐞𝐭𝐠𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐀𝐑𝐂. 𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐰𝐧* This is the first book that I've read by Natasha Preston. Based on the book description I was very excited to read this because the plot sounds so good. Esme and Kayla have a secret about something bad that happened at camp many years ago when they were merely campers. Now, years later they've return *𝐈 𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫'𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰. 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐍𝐞𝐭𝐠𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐀𝐑𝐂. 𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐰𝐧* This is the first book that I've read by Natasha Preston. Based on the book description I was very excited to read this because the plot sounds so good. Esme and Kayla have a secret about something bad that happened at camp many years ago when they were merely campers. Now, years later they've returned to the same camp but are camp counselors in training. They fear that someone knows their secret and may expose it if they don't return to camp... I was very hopeful for this book and feel disappointed. The pacing was way too slow. At some point I stopped counting the chapters while waiting for something interesting to happen. The characters are poorly developed, so I wasn't invested in any of them. I did like the friendship that Esme and Kayla seem to have, but I believe more could have been done to make it believable and maybe relatable. Its always a shame when you don't really care any of the characters when reading a book. It was very annoying to have the character point out multiple times in each chapter that something bad happened in the past that they're keeping a secret. We get it...something bad happened that you don't want anyone to ever find out. That doesn't have to be stated over and over again. I never found out what the secret was because I did not want to force myself to finish reading this book. At some point I even tried skim reading because the story just wasn't holding my interest, but even that became tedious and tiresome. I thought about reading the last few chapters but the characters weren't interesting enough for me to do so. I'm sure other may love this book. It just wasn't doing it for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Savannah M

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have very mixed opinions on this book This is the second book I have read by Natasha Preston, the first being the lost. I loved that book and was looking forward to this one. However I wasn’t my favorite The book revolves around two teenage girls who have a secret and go back to the summer camp where it took place 10 years before. The girls although 18 act very immature and use words like “bestie” all throughout the book which personally I didn’t like. After you get past the language used the s I have very mixed opinions on this book This is the second book I have read by Natasha Preston, the first being the lost. I loved that book and was looking forward to this one. However I wasn’t my favorite The book revolves around two teenage girls who have a secret and go back to the summer camp where it took place 10 years before. The girls although 18 act very immature and use words like “bestie” all throughout the book which personally I didn’t like. After you get past the language used the story actually gets kinda good for a while but at the last third of the book everything becomes very rushed and unbelievable. One specific chapter involves the main character Esme being drugged and takes from her top bunk cabin bed and dragged out into the woods. In no way would that ever be plausible without a single person hearing, not to mention each cabin also holds 6 campers I believe. That’s specific chapter left me a little annoyed just with the lack of creativity. From that point on the whole story seemed rushed to get to the ending. The story ends with the stalker murdering almost all the counselors except the main character pinning them all on her. Now this doesn’t make since because before the villain, “Lillian” starts shooting people, it says the cops are there and that they are eve actuating the camp. But somehow she has enough time to shoot three people throw the gun and run back into the woods before the cops make it down to her, left me a little speechless if I’m being honest. I am raising this 3 starts but more like 3.5. I did actually enjoy this read and found it was hard to put down, I just wish the last part of the book was a little more thought out. I would recommend this to younger readers interested in thriller/mystery but not really for older readers. However definitely read the lost by Natasha Preston!

  26. 5 out of 5

    A

    Alright so I literally just finished the book as I’m writing this. And with all due respect, i am going to be completely honest in this review. I have read every book by Natasha Preston and they all have been amazing, but “The Lake” I didn’t really enjoy reading it. *These are my opinions* Why: 1) The storyline was too slow in the beginning. 2) I didn’t really see the big deal of the “secret/plot” I found this whole book quite mediocre. 3) The characters were all quite boring, I felt no connection Alright so I literally just finished the book as I’m writing this. And with all due respect, i am going to be completely honest in this review. I have read every book by Natasha Preston and they all have been amazing, but “The Lake” I didn’t really enjoy reading it. *These are my opinions* Why: 1) The storyline was too slow in the beginning. 2) I didn’t really see the big deal of the “secret/plot” I found this whole book quite mediocre. 3) The characters were all quite boring, I felt no connection or empathy for any single. ( and I usually do when reading Natasha Prestons previous books, but I the character were “bleh” to me) 4) I felt that some things said by the two main characters were quite repetitive, that I was actually getting annoyed when reading some pages. 5) The ending was whatever I guess, (whoever is reading this and you have read any other of Natasha Preston’s book before than you know that she always ends her books without a completely settled/ cliff hanging ending that leaves you thinking “um that it’s, but what happens next, I need more information/ detail”) but um ya, the ending got me like : 🤦🏽‍♀️😤😒 Overall: I didn’t hate the book, I was just expecting more of a mystery/ fast paced thriller book. With more memorial characters. Anyways Though, I still have major respect for this author. She is still an amazing author, cuz I love her past books, but the lake is alright. I still recommend you guys to read it though, because we all have different opinions. I can’t wait till “The Fear” by Natasha Preston to be released in Spring 2022- it sounds like it’s going to be a great read. Let know what y’all taught of the book!! I would love to reas others opinions. 🖤

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    I'd like to give THE LAKE 3.5 stars, but we can't do 1/2 stars, so for now, my rating will sit at 3. I didn't dislike the book, and it held my interest enough that I kept reading and finished in a day. That said, it's an easy read. Not a lot of world-building (it doesn't really need it, author Preston gives enough) and there's a lot of dialogue -- definitely one of the aspects of the book I did really like. So why only 3 stars? I struggled to connect with Esme, the MC. I don't always have to conn I'd like to give THE LAKE 3.5 stars, but we can't do 1/2 stars, so for now, my rating will sit at 3. I didn't dislike the book, and it held my interest enough that I kept reading and finished in a day. That said, it's an easy read. Not a lot of world-building (it doesn't really need it, author Preston gives enough) and there's a lot of dialogue -- definitely one of the aspects of the book I did really like. So why only 3 stars? I struggled to connect with Esme, the MC. I don't always have to connect with the main character, but I do need to care about the MC somewhat, especially in a thriller when it's a life-or-death. At times, more than I liked, I found her to be annoying. I get that we're in her head and she's conflicted, feeling guilty, and scared, but for me, I found her to be all of the place with emotions (yes, I know she's 17) but I think those internal conflicts could have been shown without giving the reader whiplash. That said, I really like the premise of the book. I love a book set at summer camp where the MC, and in this case, her bestie are hiding a deep, dark secret. That's what made me pick up the book. There also were some good red herrings and clues, suspicions thrown, and for a while many characters looked like they could be the baddie. What disappointed me was that the baddie didn't take me by surprise and the ending left me unsatisfied. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries, and love YA thrillers in particular. I think this is a book I want to read again, and see if it changes my mind about my rating. Just because I had a few issues with it, doesn't mean you shouldn't pick up a copy and give it a read. You should, especially if like a YA thriller/mystery set in a summer camp.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anandi Puritipati

    ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I picked this book up because the cover and the synopsis sounded really enticing and I was itching for a good thriller! However, the moment I opened the ebook and read the first few chapters, I knew this was a bad decision. My first and biggest gripe with this books is that it's very poorly written. The writing is way too juvenile, in my opinion, and doesn't do a good job of either creating a g ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I picked this book up because the cover and the synopsis sounded really enticing and I was itching for a good thriller! However, the moment I opened the ebook and read the first few chapters, I knew this was a bad decision. My first and biggest gripe with this books is that it's very poorly written. The writing is way too juvenile, in my opinion, and doesn't do a good job of either creating a good atmosphere or giving the characters a certain depth. It was just a lot of "this happened, then this happened. Also this happened." It felt like it was devoid of emotion, completely. And that doesn't work well with a thriller. At all!! The characters are also very flat and do a lot of stupid things. They don't feel real at all, and I wasn't rooting for any of them. Also that romance came out of nowhere and existed for the sake of existing and I was not interested in all that heterosexual activity. I was going to rate this book two stars, but that ending make me knock one off. It was so....unfitting? not good? dare I say, stupid, almost?? Like I didn't mind the way the mystrey was set up. It was part of the reason why I kept reading even though I knew this book wasn't it for me. I just kept hoping something decent will happen and then I could rate this book three stars and justufy the time I spent on it. But noooo that ending did not feel developed at all! Also the "mystrey" gets solved pretty early on and from there it's just them trying to find the person who they know the identity of. Which, like, really takes the fun out of it for me. Anyway, try this one if you want to, sure, but I would not recommend it. WASTE OF MY TIMEEEEE

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashlee

    *ARC from Netgalley* I liked so much about this plot, but the execution fell a bit short for me. Maybe it's me, but I rarely seem to like thriller endings?? I would recommend this one to someone wanting to try the genre out, but probably not to someone already into it. (view spoiler)[I LOVE horror/slashers/thrillers where there is no "Last Girl". Stories where the villain doesn't necessarily win, but leaves the protagonist(s) at a disadvantage. Subvert my expectations. Please. Ending the book with *ARC from Netgalley* I liked so much about this plot, but the execution fell a bit short for me. Maybe it's me, but I rarely seem to like thriller endings?? I would recommend this one to someone wanting to try the genre out, but probably not to someone already into it. (view spoiler)[I LOVE horror/slashers/thrillers where there is no "Last Girl". Stories where the villain doesn't necessarily win, but leaves the protagonist(s) at a disadvantage. Subvert my expectations. Please. Ending the book with Esme holding the gun over Kayla, while cops arrive, with all other witnesses dead? Awesome. It leaves things open to interpretation and sparked some ideas in my head. But too much happened within a short time for it to feel...earned? This book spent a lot of time meandering through the plot for that kind of an ending. There were certain points this veered in the direction of a ghost story and/or "Confined Sick (or "Sick") Woman No One Believes" territory, and I really feel like those directions had so much promise, at least compared to the slasher direction it ended with. I know that might be more me wishing this book was something it didn't set out to be (which is unfair to the book, author, and tbh myself as a reader), but I wanted this book to subvert my expectations. This is a nitpick because every camp is different and I only went to daycamp and Girl Scout camp, but it felt like something was off with the whole camp setting and setup. Did Natasha Preston go to summer camp? Are Southern summer camps that different from Northeastern? (Probably) I went into this book expecting a slasher, and I ended the book getting a slasher, so I guess I got what I wanted. I just didn't expect to want something else. (hide spoiler)]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katya

    Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for an eARC copy of this book! This is my first book by Preston, and unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed. I was hoping for a quick, spooky romp down memory lane - I used to love RL Stein's horror/thriller books as a kid/teen, as formulaic and predictable as they were, and I was anticipating something similar. Either RL Stein's works wouldn't age well, or I myself have aged out of that demographic (or, most likely, both). I found The Lake lacking in Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for an eARC copy of this book! This is my first book by Preston, and unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed. I was hoping for a quick, spooky romp down memory lane - I used to love RL Stein's horror/thriller books as a kid/teen, as formulaic and predictable as they were, and I was anticipating something similar. Either RL Stein's works wouldn't age well, or I myself have aged out of that demographic (or, most likely, both). I found The Lake lacking in both plausibility and scares, and overly heavy-handed with exposition and what passes for foreshadowing. Nothing much happens in the first half of the book - I think the slow build-up of creepy things is meant to build tension, but instead I was just bored. While the action did pick up in the second half, it also suffered greatly from purposeful stupidity and lack of communication, which is just lazy writing disguised as plot drivers. When the story resorts to keeping secrets and poor decision-making to get where it needs to go, I lose all interest and respect. (view spoiler)[So many 'plot points' and choices made by the characters were simply awful. You cannot convince me that an adult camp leader wouldn't call the police and send the campers home once overt threats started appearing all over the camp. You cannot convince me that someone tasked with children's safety would play into the demands of an unknown maniac. You cannot convince me that Esme's constant refusal to communicate and determination to keep secrets was anything other than lazy writing - lack of communication to drive drama is one of the laziest plot drivers of all time and I'm not here for it. You cannot convince me that a ten year-old girl tracked down four other kids she met once in the woods at night and stalked them for years after only knowing their names and having seen them once, in the dark. So much disbelief needs to be suspended in order to go along with the story and I am not here for it. (hide spoiler)] And, frankly, living in Esme's head was exhausting. She was high-strung and anxious throughout the book, paranoid and jumping at shadows, lying to people and withholding information. Reading her constant paranoid thoughts tired me out, and it only got worse as the harassment escalated and her fears deepened. AND ANOTHER THING - Esme and Kayla accidentally set a fire in the woods that burned a small clearing. That's it. That's their biggest darkest secret that they swore a blood oath to never tell a living soul. The way they were going on about it at the beginning of the book, I thought they'd committed murder or something actually egregious, but no, they burned down a few bushes. AND NO ONE MUST KNOW or else, I don't know, they might get a slap on the wrist or something. This book is silly, and the zero-to-one-hundred ending just makes it even more so. Perhaps this would be more suitable for a younger reader who is less discerning and might enjoy the silliness more. I didn't care for it.

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