Title: Game: A Thriller
Author: Anders de La Motte
No. of Pages: 400
Origins: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: 3 December 2013
Bottom Line: Decent thriller with plenty of potential
“One Sunday morning after a long night of partying, Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a slacker with a lot of ego and very little impulse control, finds a cell phone of an unfamiliar make on a commuter train. Through insisting and slightly uncanny messages that refer to him by name, the phone invites him to play a game. HP accepts without hesitation.
The rules are that HP must complete tasks that range from childish pranks to criminal acts, as allocated by the mysterious Game Master. HP is the perfect contender—alienated from society, devoid of morals, and desperate for fame. His completion of the assignments are filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the Players’ performances.
The Game starts out innocently enough and then becomes increasingly risky, threatening the safety of someone close to HP. He is determined to become a superstar, but when the dark and tragic secrets of his family’s past are at stake, HP must make a choice. Will he suffer the humiliation of defeat, or will the need to win push him to the limit—no matter the cost?
First in a fast-paced and riveting trilogy, Game will leave you guessing. Follow the rules, and everybody gets hurt…”
Thoughts: The main problem with Game is the fact that HP neither acts nor sounds like his age. It is easy for readers to forget that HP is a 30-year-old man rather than the post-adolescent boy he pretends to be. Everything from his speech patterns, his physical appearance, his lack of ambition, and interests are closer to an early-twenties bounder with no ambition and a narcissist personality. While people do exist like HP, it makes for some uncomfortable reading at times when one remembers that HP is not a teen punk but rather a thirty-something punk.
The Game itself is very intriguing. The idea of anonymous players working for the whims of even more mysterious Game Masters has the feel of an oft-used trope. However, HP’s investigation uncovers more than just a puppet and puppet master conspiracy scenario. There is an unknown reason for the Game that HP has yet to discover, and the fact that it revolves around HP and his sister is obvious to everyone but them. In this regard, Game is more interesting for what Mr. De La Anders chooses not to reveal than for what questions he does answer.
Game is very much the beginning of a series. There are many questions, and what few answers that do exist only lead to more questions. Both HP and his sister are more archetypes than fully-developed characters, but one can see the potential in both of them for huge development arcs and greater overall likability. The story’s pacing is fast, and it is easy to for one to ignore key details while focusing on the action. However, Mr. De La Anders keeps a reader’s full attention by allowing the reader to become a part of the story. One looks for clues just as fervently as HP does but with the smug satisfaction of being able to see a bigger picture than his small viewpoint. The fact that neither HP nor the reader receives adequate answers enhances one’s enjoyment of the story, but it is in the potential answers to come which will impress readers the most. One can see the exciting possibilities of the series given the few clues one has at the end of Game ; now it is just a matter of whether Mr. De La Anders delivers on those possibilities.