The Dying Game

A masterly locked-room mystery set in a near-future Orwellian state—for fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
Do you live to play? Or play to live?

The year is 2037. The Soviet Union never fell, and much of Europe has been consolidated under the totalitarian Union of Friendship. On the tiny island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a forty-eight-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic bureaucrat with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment: to stage her own death and then to observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the six other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure? But then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins. . . .

Combining suspense, unexpected twists, psychological gamesmanship, and a sinister dystopian future, The Dying Game conjures a world in which one woman is forced to ask, “Can I save my life by staging my death?”

There are books where it seems everyone loves it, there are those you could burn to keep warm without a faint shred of remorse and then there are those that fall somewhere in between. I have a feeling this will be the latter. You want to love it but there is just something that stops it from being one you would hand over your credit card for without even bothering to check the price.

Unfortunately it seems there were just one too many holes in the storyline which was very surprising considering the synopsis is attention grabbing. The book talks a lot about government but you never get a solid sense of exactly what kind of government is currently in rule, what are their motivations, why do they make the kind of laws they do, etc.

The premise is interesting but it almost feels like the author wrote out an outline with some really cool ideas but didn’t take the same time and effort to ensure the filler inbetween was the same caliber or at the very least complete enough to keep your attention going to the next idea.

My attention kept straying and feeling frustrated by the lack of plausible world construct or other characters actions coming off out of place considering what we know about how this ‘future’ world works.

The characters and setting were not well developed. I wanted to like Anna, since the story revolves around her, but her dialogue is very stilted as if she’s reading one line at a time and feels unsure herself if what she’s saying makes sense.

There are positives so don’t give up hope: One it’s a very small book. Two it’s fast paced. Three it’s the kind of thing you can read during commercials or if you’re in need of something for a class assignment and you think reading books should be outlawed because you’ll get through it quick and it doesn’t require you to pay attention.

There is actually a great deal of potential here and since it’s the author’s first book hopefully they can take what they did here and make it better next time.

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