The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

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The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sophie Diamond
Reviewed by Sophie Diamond
Summary: Interesting, fast paced and unconventional. Well worth picking up.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: November 2017
Publisher: Windmill Books
ISBN: 978-1786090201

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In a futuristic dystopian Sweden, ministry worker Anna is presented with an offer from the formidable chairman. Except the offer, is more of an order than a choice. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Anna accepts. She is taken to an isolated Island with other candidates for a job in the super-secret organisation. Anna's objective is simple, she is to die and then observe her fellows through hidden chambers of the house. Once the experiment is finished, she will report her findings back to the chairman. However, while this starts off smoothly at first, other contestants start disappearing and Anna is faced with the terror of knowing this is not just a game any more.

This book was an interesting hybrid of 1984 and The Hunger Games, with a bit of a classic detective locked-room scenario thrown in. It was set in a communist Sweden with a backdrop I didn't have the firmest understanding of. I understood the gist of what was going on, but perhaps not the detail. However, I think if Avdic had really gone in to explaining her new order, it would have massively detracted from the pace of the book and the pace is very good. I understood that there had been two cold wars, the first presumably following an alternate path to history producing a communist nation of Sweden. I think that was enough to understand the setting, which is nice and tense, and each character's motivation.

The story was very interesting, I found it fairly unpredictable and while thrilling, there was a nice understated quality to the story. I could feel Anna's panic and confusion but quietly, which was a fantastic way of building the tension, rather than Avdic jumping straight into hysteria. Anna was a really interesting protagonist, I've never encountered one like her. She oozed exhaustion and had a quite spiky manner. She felt fragile, like one wrong step would bring her entire psyche crumbling down but this doesn't mean she was pathetic. On the contrary, she was really strong and brave, but Avdic beautifully portrayed that she was damaged.

The narrative style is also very interesting. It's mostly in Anna's perspective. She is a traumatised civil servant, although the extent of her trauma doesn't become clear until further in the book. But Anna is interspersed with Henry, a former colleague of hers. He is unlike her in his though processes, he's organised and not at all impulsive, whereas Anna is very impulsive and almost scattered. They were good central characters, very different and with very different outlooks on each other, which I loved. It made Avdic's world feel very three-dimensional. Other perspective's are also entered into the account much later in the story. As a reader my least favourite writing style is where there is a narrator who knows what everyone is thinking and doing, but a benefit of this is that you do see the full picture. When writing in first person, or so close to one person, you only get their side of the story, so by introducing other perspectives, Avdic has covered off the parts of the story Anna wasn't privy to, thus giving the reader everything. It was very skilfully done.

I really liked this book, it was clever, tense and original. Thank you to the publishers and the bookbag for my review copy.

If you're interested in this type of fiction, I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Buy The Dying Game by Asa Avdic at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dying Game by Asa Avdic at


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