I know Danielle Vega’s famous for her Merciless series, but Survive the Night is the first thing I’ve read by her. Survive is a fast paced, thrilling novel with blood and scares to spare, as well as characters whom I actually cared about. When people begin dying, many of the deaths are acutely heartbreaking. No one here is just body count fodder.
Casey is just out of three months in rehab when she goes out with her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya. Shana, in particular, is wild, and as we gradually discover, largely responsible for leading Casey down the path that led her to drug addiction and rehab. Shana convinces Casey to go to an underground rave in an abandoned part of the New York City subway system. Casey, who’s trying to stay sober, is reluctant but agrees in hopes of reconnecting with her former boyfriend, Sam. After Shana drugs Casey’s soda, Casey stumbles upon Julie’s dead body. When Casey tries to convince her friends what she’s seen, they get trapped in the subway system, with someone, or something, that begins picking them off one by one.
We’ve all had friends like Shana at some point; at least, I know I have. Luckily mine never drugged me, or for that matter convinced me to go to a party where everyone was murdered. Shana is wild and irresponsible and definitely a bad influence on Casey, but we also see why Casey is drawn to her. Vega paints a nuanced portrait of Shana as a troubled and lonely individual, who is often jealous of Casey, but loves her too.
Sam is another character whom I loved. He’s wary of Casey due to the drug problems that previously ended their relationship, but also clearly deeply in love with her. When the friends find themselves in danger, he is determined to get Casey to safety, even at his own peril.
The scares here are also excellent. I don’t want to get to into them here, as part of the book’s appeal is figuring out exactly what is after our heroes, but our killer is a formidable threat, and Vega doesn’t skimp on the gore when the bodies start piling up.
I can’t recommend Survive the Night enough. Vega crafts a tense narrative, with thrills that once they start coming, don’t stop until the very end of the book. I will definitely be checking out more from Vega, so stay tuned here for more reviews of her work. And if you haven’t read Survive, remedy that as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.