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A Review of ‘First Lie Wins’ by Ashley Elston – The Thrilling Bestseller That Captivates

Ashley Elston, image courtesy of author’s Facebook page

Ashley Elston, a name synonymous with thrilling young adult fiction, has once again captured the hearts and minds of readers with her latest masterpiece, “First Lie Wins.” Known for her ability to weave complex narratives with relatable characters, Elston has established herself as a formidable force in the literary world. Her background in photography and experience as a certified landscape architect lend a unique visual depth to her storytelling, painting vivid pictures in the minds of her readers. With a keen eye for detail and a profound understanding of the human psyche, Elston’s works, including “The Rules for Disappearing” series and “10 Blind Dates,” have resonated with a wide audience, particularly those who appreciate a blend of suspense, romance, and self-discovery.


In “First Lie Wins,” Elston takes us on an enthralling journey that blurs the lines between truth and deception. The novel opens in a small, seemingly idyllic town where our protagonist, seventeen-year-old Harper, lives a life many would envy. However, beneath the surface of this tranquil existence lies a web of secrets that Harper has been guarding with her life.

The story begins with a sudden and mysterious disappearance that shakes the core of this tight-knit community. Harper finds herself at the center of this upheaval when her best friend, Elise, vanishes without a trace. As the last person to see Elise, Harper becomes engulfed in a whirlwind of suspicion and fear. Determined to find her friend and clear her name, Harper embarks on a perilous quest that leads her down a path filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Elston masterfully crafts a narrative where each character is intricately connected, and every lie told has a far-reaching impact. The reader is taken through a labyrinth of past mistakes and present dangers, as Harper confronts not only the mystery of her friend’s disappearance but also the skeletons in her own closet. Her journey is one of self-discovery, as she learns that the first lie told is often the one that sets the course of one’s life.

As Harper delves deeper into the investigation, she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to unravel the fabric of her community. Elston’s brilliance lies in her ability to maintain a relentless pace, ensuring that the reader is constantly on the edge of their seat. The novel’s climax is both shocking and satisfying, leaving readers contemplating the moral complexities of truth and lies.

“First Lie Wins” is a profound exploration of the human condition. Elston challenges us to consider the consequences of our actions and the masks we wear to protect our deepest secrets. The novel serves as a mirror, reflecting the often uncomfortable truth that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous of all.

The book has garnered significant acclaim and positive feedback from critics and readers alike. Reese Witherspoon, known for her keen eye in selecting engaging reads for her book club, chose “First Lie Wins” as a pick for Reese’s Book Club in January 2024, praising it for its fast pace and thrilling elements of secret identities and a cat & mouse game. She wasn’t alone in her praise; Reader’s Digest highlighted the novel’s edge-of-your-seat quality and cleverly crafted plot, while the Sunday Times (London) applauded Elston’s handling of a highly complicated plot with great assurance.

It has been described as a high-stakes thriller that brilliantly explores themes of identity, love, truth, and deception. Critics have praised Elston for her smart, sharp, and fast-paced writing, noting that the book keeps readers on edge from the first page to the last. Megan Miranda, a New York Times bestselling author, commended Elston for crafting an unpredictable and unforgettable story.

Other authors like Lisa Gardner, A.J. Finn, and Julie Clark have also shared their admiration for Elston’s work. Gardner described the book as featuring some of the best suspense she has read in years, while Clark called it the most suspenseful game of deception she has ever read, highlighting the unexpected twists and reveals in the plot.

The novel has been appreciated for its inventive and clever storytelling, with critics noting the depth of its characters, particularly the morally gray protagonist. The blend of meticulously plotted details and high stakes has been particularly effective in captivating the readers.

The book has been met with widespread critical acclaim, celebrated for its inventive plot, deep character development, and ability to keep readers engaged and guessing until the very end. This reception underscores Ashley Elston’s prowess in the thriller genre and her ability to craft compelling narratives that resonate with readers and critics alike.


Ashley Elston’s “First Lie Wins” is a testament to her skill as a storyteller and her understanding of the emotional landscapes of her characters. This New York Times best-selling book is not just a tale of suspense and intrigue; it’s a poignant study of friendship, loyalty, and the lengths we go to protect those we love. It’s a must-read for anyone who relishes a story that stays with them long after the last page is turned.


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