First Lie Wins By Ashley Elston-Summary
Goodreads Summary Of First Lie Wins By Ashley Elston (Review Below):
Evie Porter has everything a nice, Southern girl could want: a perfect, doting boyfriend, a house with a white picket fence and a garden, and a fancy group of friends. The only catch: Evie Porter doesn’t exist.
The identity comes to Evie Porter. Once she’s given a name and location by her mysterious boss, Mr. Smith, she learns everything there is to know about the town and its people. Then the target: Ryan Sumner. The last piece of the puzzle is the job.
Evie isn’t privy to Mr. Smith’s real identity, but she knows this job will be different. Ryan has gotten under her skin, and she’s envisioning a different life for herself. But Evie can’t make any mistakes–especially after what happened last time.
Because the one thing she’s worked her entire life to keep clean, the one identity she could always go back to—her real identity—just walked right into this town. Evie Porter must stay one step ahead of her past while ensuring a future in front of her. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but Evie has always liked a challenge…
Yeah, I seem to be the lone wolf here, but whatever.
Reason #1 Plot and Buy-In
This is going to be the longest section. I’ve mentioned this before, but it has been a while, so let me repeat it. I’m not hard when it comes to buy-in. I watch The Walking Dead, read comics, and watch superhero movies, for fucks sake. Did you see what happened with Glenn and the dumpster? For reference, Glenn was stuck under a dumpster surrounded by zombies. And somehow gets out and survives.
Walking Dead Spoilers. Sorry. But I doubt you will watch it if you haven’t seen it by now.
Then, there is the whole timeline/time of day travel issue in Captain America: Civil War. But that’s a rabbit hole. But if you are interested, this is a good starting point: Captain America: Civil War And The Problem Of Time. So yeah, I’m your girl when it comes to buy-in.
When I say that First Lie Wins provides nothing in terms of buy-in? You know I’m not joking. First, here are some specific, non-spoiler examples I can provide.
- Evie Porter rents a car under one of a million aliases. Anyone who has gone through the hellscape of renting a car knows what it takes. The driver’s license has to match the name on the rental contract, matching with the credit/debit card. And you can’t rent a car with cash. Yes, Mr. Smith provides extensive background for each alias, but this isn’t one of those. She could not get the needed identity paperwork and credit/debit card to pull this off. And yet, there she goes.
- Her boyfriend Ryan never sees Evie’s apartment and doesn’t care. He accepts that she is embarrassed by it and that’s that. Next thing, she’s moving in with him. What the actual fuck?
- Creating an alias with an extensive background is one thing. Doing it with doctored university photos is another. These are published photos by major universities, and they just photo-shopped her into them, putting them back online, forcing you to presume they somehow erased/replaced the original images.
Here are the general issues without spoilers.
- The way Ashley Elston writes First Lie Wins depends on everyone and every situation working out, just as Evie predicts it will, and it does. Life does not work this way. I don’t care how good a conman you are. There are always curveballs. Except, in First Lie Wins, there aren’t any.
- The communication through social media accounts is arbitrary and unreliable. Yet, it works every time and precisely on the timeline needed.
- Speaking of the above, Evie has made good friends with an IT professional who also works with Mr. Smith (BIG BAD AND DEADLY DANGEROUS), who is willing to help her in every situation, whom they share forbidden personal information with—all the no.
- There are other things that I really can’t speak to that aren’t even plot conveniences or are lazy. They outright don’t make any sense at all.
Reason #2 Slow/Boring
I can’t even believe I finished First Lie Wins. But I did.
And as much as I’ve been dreading it. The next step is inevitable.
Finish it, I did. And it was excruciating. Look. I get that the flashbacks to other jobs Evie does for Mr. Smith are necessary. It gives depth to her true identity and explains how she began working for Mr. Smith. It also provides background on how their arrangement has progressed into its current state.
But holy mother of flashbacks. STOP IT. Ahsley Elston provides way too many past jobs. What is worse is that they serve to emphasize the unbelievability of the entire story. They slow down First To Lie to a crawl, making it slow. I will admit that my attention wandered at certain points because, geeze, I get it.
Reason #3 Characters
The only character truly flushed out is Evie, even if it is a repetitive slug. This is a crying shame. Mr. Smith, which is kinda the whole point of the big bad book, isn’t. Even when the mystery is solved (without spoilers here), nothing beyond who he is, is explored. It was a very unsatisfying end to that plot line. I’m not saying that NOTHING is given, but it is minute.
Additionally, Ryan is a pretty surface character, which dominates his relationship with Evie, making it wholly unbelievable (yes, another point that has no chance of buy-in). There is no chemistry between them. Ashley Elston writes it as a plot convenience, which is precisely how it comes off.
Thank you to Pamela Dorman books and Penguin RandomHouse Audio for an advance copy of First to Lie by Ashley Elston, which will be released on January 2.
Reason #4 Setting
You would think that settings would be necessary between all the flashbacks and the current timeline. They would be distinguishable. Moreover, most of them are a part of some con or heist. That makes the setting even more critical. However, I’m left to ask, what even is a setting? I mean, let’s just throw that one right out the window because it is non-existent. First to Lie moves from one place to the next, and yet they all seem exactly the same.
Ashley Elston never takes the opportunity to make the settings a part of the different jobs or current events. Maybe this is because there are SO MANY flashbacks. Adding any deep description of the settings would make the book 600 pages. Could it get slower? Maybe so. That is a question I don’t need answered. But there it is. Settings are extinct.
Reason #5 <shrugs>
I really thought I mapped out five reasons not to read First To Lie. Apparently, I didn’t. But maybe that is a reason in itself. There are many books I read and am meh about, so I don’t even bother reviewing them. I did care enough to write this one. Yet, I’m not compelled by anything else to write another reason. That would make this review as drawn out and slow as this impossible-to-believe book.