Series: The Game #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Katherine Tegen (6.11.2013)
eARC, 352 pages
When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
I was seriously looking forward to this book! It was one of my most anticipated summer releases.
I was seriously disappointed.
It’s not that I didn’t like it. It was just meh. And for some reason it really reminded me of Doomed by Tracy Deebs, so it kinda felt like I had read it already.
My main problem was that I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. They were all cardboard cutouts with little to no personality (unless annoying counts as a personality). No dimension. I couldn’t make any kind of connection with them.
I think the idea could have been really great, but the delivery was lacking. I didn’t really get the point of it all – it’s a game, but it’s not really a game because they’re fighting off an alien invasion? A bunch of teenagers? It didn’t make much sense. There should have been more background on the Drau – who are they? Where did they come from? And the Committee – in which we get a kinda-explanation, but a completely cryptic one that makes NO sense. Just like the rest of the world building.
I didn’t quite understand the background of the kids that got pulled. They were descended from aliens? Did I get that correctly? I’m not really sure. Everything in the game was carefully controlled, but why? By who? For what purpose? They get dropped far away from the mission point because the Drau know when they get pulled. But can’t pinpoint their location. Huh? The world building wasn’t that great at all. The whole clone thing could have been really cool, too, but it just all fell flat for me.
Something that really bothered me: Things were kinda spelled out to the reader as if we have no brain to think for ourselves. I hate when a writer feels the need to point out how strange an event is, or keeps revisiting the same thing like the readers can’t figure it out for themselves. View Spoiler »I figured out that Jackson had telepathy right away because there were oodles of times that Miki would think something and he would comment on it, then claim that he read it from her face. Bullshit. You can’t figure out someone’s exact thoughts from their facial expression, unless it’s an obvious thought reaction to something. And even so, she would always say like ‘How do you know what I’m thinking?’ or ‘It unsettles me that he can read me so easily.’ Yeah, he can read you that easily and he barely knows you, and you’re not suspicious? And it happened WAY too frequently to be coincidence. After the first 2 or 3, I was like OBVIOUSLY this dude can read her mind. It was so obvious I wanted to slap Miki for not realizing it until practically the end of the book. Argh. « Hide Spoiler
Miki annoyed the crap out of me. I hate when characters can’t see things that are right in their face. Plus, she kinda freaked out at times over stupid crap. In the first fight with the Drau, she completely flipped her shit – now, I understand you should be scared in the situation, but damn. Get a grip and fight back! She had an eagle tattooed on her chest for courage, but she cowered, frozen, during that fight. And even when Jackson told her not to look at Drau because it would be excruciating, she still looked. And then looked again, even after realizing how much it hurt the first time (and complaining about it). Idiot.
She was always going on about control; she had some major control issues. And that fact was repeated constantly, like it was a character trait (her only character trait, other than being annoying) that needed to be communicated to the reader. I could have been able to tell by the way she acted that she was a control freak, I didn’t really need to be reminded verbally every other chapter. But thanks. She also overreacted a lot, leaving me rolling my eyes and itching to slap her. Jackson lifts his shirt – to show her his belly button for crying out loud – and she seriously freaked out over that. It’s a stomach. Good lord, it’s not like he took his pants off and whipped out his willy. Calm down. Then:
“I tried to talk to you,” he says. “Before my dad got transferred. After you lost your mom”
Lost my mom. Stupidest euphemism ever. I didn’t misplace her; she died. I swallow a quick retort that I know I’ll regret.
IT’S A FIGURE OF SPEECH. Jeez. *eye roll* And something that really got under my skin:
I’m starting to feel like a raw steak between two pit bulls. The thing is, it’s pit bull nature to fight, even when the steak isn’t there.
I…just…UGH. This statement pisses me off so much. Just because pits have a bad rap doesn’t mean that you should put that in your novel without actually knowing your shit. I’ve worked at a vet clinic for 6 years, and I’ve seen a LOT of pit bulls. They are NOT mean in nature. Stupid people make them that way. They’re actually a really gentle breed when they’re not trained to fight. Rough in play, and a little on the hyper side, but not mean-spirited. So no, their ‘nature’ is not to fight. You are wrong, ma’am. Do more research next time.
The romance was cliche and rather annoying. I’m SO sick of the ‘you should stay away from me for your own good’ line it’s not even funny. Easy, Edward. And all the bipolar crap, what’s with that? Jackson would be all protective one minute, and go from being about to kiss her to ‘Don’t get to know me, you won’t like what you find.’ But then after telling her to stay away, he’d be all ‘You can lean on me’ or give mixed signals. I think I suffered from mental whiplash from his mood swings. And he said stuff like that more than a couple times. He kept telling Miki she should stay away from him, but still followed her around like a lost puppy, to the point of being stalkerish. That is NOT an attractive personality trait!
There was also a kinda-sorta-almost love triangle at the beginning, too. Thank goodness that didn’t develop. But even so, I could barely tell the difference between Luka and Jackson. They were like the same person with a different name. And Luka was slightly less overbearing.
Even the secondary characters were annoying. Jackson, for obvious reasons. You’re not a good guy, we get it. Who cares. Luka wasn’t annoying because he had no personality. Miki, I already explained. Which brings me to Carly. ARGH. I don’t really even know what her problem was, but I wanted to punch her. She started acting angry with Miki for seemingly no reason…lo and behold, it was over a boy. Two of them, actually. Did she like Luka, or Jackson? I still don’t know. Apparently no other female was allowed to talk to a guy she thought was hot, not even her ‘best’ friend. Yeah, she was one of those girls. Then she started yelling at Miki about being a ‘skank’ for holding one guy’s hand (they bumped into each other while reaching for groceries – which is cliche, but it’s still not holding hands, jeesh) then making out with another in a park, which I’m pretty sure didn’t even happen. She didn’t even stop to ask Miki’s point of view, even though they were supposed to be best friends. Then, she says:
“I don’t know what hurts more, the face that you lied to me about it, or the fact that I called first dibs on him and you didn’t even care.”
First of all, dude’s not a sandwich. Second of all, pretty sure you never said a thing about having ‘dibs’ on him. But whatever. I wanted to knock her teeth out either way. They had a big huge fight about something completely pointless, and even though they were supposed to be fighting over guys, I couldn’t really figure out why the hell they were fighting. It was just pointless drama to me.
I was hoping for more action. The point of the book was all about the ‘game’ and the aliens, but there were only 3 missions in the whole book, with one being right at the end. Miki said at one point, ‘Are the missions my reality now?’ and I was just like, Um…but there’s only been two…
I think there could have been less pointless interaction between the characters (read: drama) and more action involving the aliens. It would have made the book slightly better.
Despite all that, it wasn’t a bad read. Strangely enough, I thought it was alright until I started writing this review and realized just how many things in the book irritated me. I do have to admit that the gamer part appealed to me. I am a gamer myself, so terminology such as ‘respawn’ and all the point systems and stuff was rather fascinating because I was having a total nerd girl moment. And the ending had a pretty huge cliffhanger, leaving you to wonder. I admit I may have to read the next book just to satisfy my curiosity!
Writing style: 2.5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5