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Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night

by Riley Sager

Quick take

Nirvana might be on the radio but this car doesn't smell like teen spirit, it smells like trouble...

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Scary


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update



It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says.

The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Survive the Night.

Why I love it

There’s something I like to call the “Please don’t do this” premise, common to both thrillers and horror films: A girl walks home alone at night. A kid wanders into the basement where too many things have gone bump in the dark. Riley Sager’s latest thriller, Survive the Night, starts with a humdinger of a “Please don’t do this” premise and then, right as you think you know the score, turns the story on its head to become something totally new and unexpected.

It’s 1991. Charlie’s been through a lot in the last few months, including the murder of her best friend by the infamous (and at-large) Campus Killer. Wracked with grief, Charlie desperately wants to get away from campus—so much so, she accepts a ride from a tall, dark, handsome stranger. Exactly the wrong thing to do with a serial killer on the loose. There’s six hours from campus to Charlie’s home, and not everyone is going to make it out of this ride alive…

But the “Please don’t do this” premise isn’t the only thing cinematic about Survive the Night: Charlie is a film buff, who makes sense of her precarious situation partially by drawing on lessons learned from films like Silence of the Lambs and Gaslight. Sager’s storytelling, too, is absorbingly cinematic, sucking you right into the car with Charlie and holding you by the throat as the hours between campus and Akron tick down. Sager’s twisty plot kept me riveted well into the early hours of the morning, trying to figure out where we were headed—I never guessed. Pick this one up. You won’t be sorry.

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Member ratings (18,503)

  • Amanda S.

    Cedar Grove, WI

    Amazing! Another great read from Sager. If you love a good twist, and Sager’s other novels, you’ll be captivated in this thriller. Chilling, “No Exit” vibes, and start to finish great book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Maureen P.

    Murray, UT

    This was such an easy read and just when I thought I had figured it out I was hit by twist after twist after twist! Definitely is a suspenseful psychological thriller and has “No Exit” vibes⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Harley G.

    Saint George, SC

    This book has everything I look for in a ‘good’ read. Charlie is likable and easy to relate to. She isn’t a crime junkie, but a movie buff and it helps her navigate each plot twist better than me ????

  • Danah J.

    Murfreesboro, TN

    Loved this book!If you love the 90’s, Sager’s other books, and a book that will hold your attention, look no further.Parts were a little outlandish, but who doesn’t love some drama between the covers?

  • Emileigh C.

    Vestavia Hills, AL

    4.5⭐️ Another unputdownable treat from Sager! Thrilling, gripping, and entertaining! A little more depth wouldn’t hurt. I’m so glad this was a BOTM option and I look forward to the next Sager read.