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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Anders de la Motte

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To purchase Game

Title: Game
Author: Anders de la Motte
Genre: Novel
Written: 2010 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 386 pages
Original in: Swedish
Availability: Game - US
Game - UK
Game - Canada
Game - India
Le Jeu - France
Game - Deutschland
Il gioco - Italia
  • Swedish title: Geim
  • Translated by Neil Smith
  • Book 1 of the Game trilogy

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Our Assessment:

B+ : well-paced and entertaining low-grade thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 30/9/2013 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)he exciting first in a thriller trilogy." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Game, the first in a trilogy, finds Henrik 'HP' Pettersson sucked into an elaborate game, following instructions from an anonymous 'Game Master' in order to get the validation he's so sorely missing otherwise in his life. Although he is thirty-one, HP seems and acts more like an immature teen, and spends most of his time watching TV and playing multiplayer online games. That, and his lack of ties -- his parents are dead, he's apparently largely estranged from his sister, and he's basically unemployed, make him a perfect candidate/patsy for 'the Game'. He's quickly seduced, picking up the shiny phone dangled in front of him -- a special device connecting him to 'the Game' -- and then reveling in the validation he gets -- points (which are also worth money, which he can always use) ! his triumphs shared on video ! comments left by fans !
       It's all very easy at first -- a few relatively harmless pranks, all documented on video, both by the device he found (and which he wears when doing the assigned tasks, to record himself in action) as well as, more mysteriously, by a more stable camera feed providing another angle. Early on he's given two options: one is that he can simply continue to play 'the Game' at this level, assured of a small, steady income as he continues to be set: "further tasks of the more basic sort". The other option is to go all in:

the clock will stop on your old life and you will enter an entirely new experience, the like of which you have never even dared to dream of.

The risks are greater here, but so are the rewards, of course. Only a very small number of people are qualified for this level. The question is: Have you got what it takes ?
       Even reckless HP hesitates a bit -- but, of course, he chooses to take it to the next level. Of course, he soon finds he's gotten himself into something stranger, more elaborate, and more dangerous than he had expected.
       Right at the start HP was told about the rules governing 'the Game' -- which are basically only two:
Rule 1: Never talk to anyone outside the Game Community about the Game.

Rule 2: The Game Master directs the Game, allocates assignments, rewards, and -- if necessary -- punishments. The Game Master's authority is absolute, all decisions must be obeyed and there is no right of appeal.
       As HP learns, they take rule 1 very, very seriously -- and the consequences of not obeying it are nasty indeed. But, as HP gets drawn deeper into 'the Game' -- and as it gets harder to tell what's part of it and what isn't -- he has a hard time following it to the letter. And he comes to understand that the Game Master's reach extends very, very far, making it very difficult to escape 'the Game' in any way. Or to sabotage it.
       This plot is pretty basic and not really new, but de la Motte's presentation puts Game a cut or two above similar chase/hunt/conspiracy thrillers. For one, the focus isn't entirely on HP, and it doesn't unfold only from his perspective. The novel is told relentlessly in quickly alternating sections, ranging from a paragraph to a few pages in length, the action moving back and forth between what's happening to and with HP, and driven policewoman Rebecca Normén, who at the start is promoted to the crack Alpha group, the elite bodyguards of the Personal Protection Unit, responsible for protecting the important members of government and visiting dignitaries and the like.
       It's pretty obvious from the start that Rebecca is HP's sister, and something in their past connects them beyond the usual sibling ties, but that they have rather drifted apart. The two very different personalities -- irresponsible and flighty HP and the intensely focused Rebecca -- go about things very differently, but HP's little games make for an overlap of their stories, too. Here's where de la Motte also does very well: it's never clear where 'the Game' ends and reality begins; indeed, 'the Game' seems to extend a lot further than HP can fathom at first. This makes for some repeated nice surprises.
       Yes, this is only a B-grade thriller -- there's a lot of nonsense here, and most of the action is very rushed, and little is explored very thoroughly after the fact (because it wouldn't really stand up to closer scrutiny) -- but it's a damn good one. Breathless enough to keep the reader from thinking too hard about the logical flaws and gaps, the story is entertaining and gripping. HP can be rather annoying, but the ultra-grounded (if also flawed) Rebecca is the perfect foil for that. It makes for a welcome counter-read to so much other deeply ponderous Nordic crime fiction, zipping along agreeably lightly and creepily, but also not entirely frivolous.
       A very enjoyable lite adventure read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 18 May 2014

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Game: Reviews: Other books by Anders de la Motte under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Swedish author Anders de la Motte was born in 1971.

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© 2014 the complete review

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