The Game by Krystyna Kuhn
|The Game by Krystyna Kuhn|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Something very different here, as life at a Canadian college proves to be a nightmare for all the unexpected reasons.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2011|
Meet Julia and Robert. They're siblings on their way to Grace College, an exclusive campus stuck up in the Canadian wilderness. It's a rum place, set by a lake under lowering mountains. It's a place of sudden night-time blackouts, unexpected screams through the dark, mysterious parties clandestinely held out of sight, and pupils declaring it all 'evil', but what is student prank and what is due to something more sinister? And what could Julia and Robert possibly be running from to force them to this strange end of the earth?
The set-up and location sound Gothic in that resume, but on the page less so. Yes, there are lashings of darkness, nocturnal mysteries and more, but we are given dialogue, attitudes, characters and scenarios that are too modern to be really Gothic. This still is genre fiction, however, for not only do we have a slowly hinted-at back story but also the current goings-on. Goings-on that the blurb tells us far too much of.
Back cover aside, there's a lot here that is nicely judged. It looks a large teen thriller, but reads very quickly and easily. The reader is rapidly hooked on solving the situation, and sifting through the mysterious to the truth on several fronts. Perhaps there is a need for the darker fantasy-styled clues to help us ignore just how unlikely Grace College actually is, but in this translation (it's a German book originally, from 2010, so brought to us with some pace) it comes over as a semi-realistic situation, even if the small clique of students is hardly peopled by extras.
I thought Robert was underused as a very seldom focus for the narration. But Julia shines as a character forced to live with several nightmares when she should be studying and having fun. Read any growing-pains metaphors into that you like, but like the Gothic they're not strictly on the page of The Game, which is a straight and commendable piece of intrigue. My colleague would knock off marks for the cliff-hanger cum sequel-set up of the last three pages, but on another day I could have gone to four and a half stars.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy. The translator better get a leg-on, for in Germany this series is already five books in, with the second and third of year two already announced for the near future.
Something even eerier in the way of school-based teen dark thrillers can be found with Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Game by Krystyna Kuhn at Amazon.com.
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