Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Dying Game

Title:  The Dying Game
Author:  Asa Avdic
Publication Information:  Penguin Books. 2017. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0143131796 / 978-0143131793

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "One afternoon, the unit secretary came into my office."

Favorite Quote:  "Wink murder ... It goes like this:  One person is randomly chosen as a murderer and another is the detective. The other players, the victims, know who the detective is, but they don't know the murderer. Then everyone walks around the room. The murderer kills people by discreetly winking at them. When someone gets blinked at, they fall down dead. When the detective thinks he knows who the murderer is, he accuses the suspect. If the detective is right, he wins; if not, the murderer wins."

The year is 2037, and the world is not the one we know. Most of Europe operates under a benignly named but strictly controlled Union of Friendship. The game is real except it is not really a game. The rules are real except that each person thinks they are playing different game, and each person is given a different set of rules.

The reader knows the role Anna Francis plays and the rules she is given. What the actual goal of this project is keeps me wondering throughout the book. I guess at where it is going but do not guess correctly as to how. The "how" is the roller coaster ride of this book which the reader takes right along with Anna Francis.

Anna Francis knows only her work. Anna's mother is raising Anna's daughter; a father is not in the picture. A secret - a disaster both personal and professional from Anna's perspective - in her past has brought her from the forefront of major projects to a bureaucratic office job in Stockholm. Anna is given the "opportunity" to take on a new project to help with the recruitment of a new member for the RAN project. The book never explains what the RAN project is except to imply that the project is beyond top secret, and its members are a very elite group. Anna is asked to give a few days of her life to observe the candidates for this position as they are placed in a field test on the remote, secluded island of Isola.

Oh, and, she will be presumed dead for most of those days. That is indeed the test as Anna understands it. The candidates are to be led to believe that Anna has been murdered by one of them. With no way on to or off the island, how will that impact those who remain. The objective is to see how the individuals handle that situation. Anna is given an entire secret realm underneath and throughout the house from which to observe and report. That is the test. Or is it?

Once Anna is on the island, nothing is quite as she envisioned. Someone completely unexpected from Anna's past is part of this situation. Anna's "death" is staged as planned, but then events don't go quite as Anna or the other individuals on the island have been led to expect. New relationships are formed. Old relationships are rekindled. People appear to die. People disappear. Storms hit the island. Communication is cut off. Transportation is cutoff. The scenario is perhaps not as controlled as it was put forth by the project coordinators. Or is it?

Different perspectives throughout the book fill in some holes in the narrative, but the ending of the book leaves loose ends. What is the RAN project? What is the story of the man from Anna's past? What completely is Anna's story? What happens next? This last question arises not because the story feels incomplete but because Anna's character becomes real and I want to know. This last question is what warrants the success of this storytelling. I am left wondering what happens next and questioning if sequel will come to explain more. I want to know.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment