Game: A Thriller
Publication date: December 3, 2013 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
From a former police officer, the first novel in a groundbreaking Scandinavian trilogy about a deadly game that blurs the line between reality and fiction in a world obsessed with social media.After a long night of partying, Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a slacker with a big ego and no impulse control, heads home on the train. Finding a mobile phone from an unknown company, HP begins receiving messages—addressed to him—inviting him to play a game by a secret and insistent master. HP doesn't hesitate before agreeing to play.
HP is the perfect contender: he is alienated from society, devoid of morals, and wants to be a star. The assignments, ranging from childish pranks to criminal acts, are all filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the players’ performances. Everything is coordinated by a mysterious Game Master, unknown to the players or the viewers. But before long, the game spills out into the real world and threatens innocent people.
HP’s sister, Rebecca, is a bodyguard with the Swedish Security Police. The opposite of her brother, she is haunted by traumatic memories and dark secrets from her past. As the game continues, Rebecca begins to realize that her past may not be so secret after all. HP’s assignments become increasingly risky, and he pushes beyond acceptable limits, determined to become a superstar. In the hunt for bigger risks, HP loses touch with reality and puts his own sister in danger. Will HP’s loyalty to the game win out over his love for his family? Or will he come back to reality and save his sister?
With an intriguing blend of break-neck suspense, humor, and informed commentary on social media, Game takes Scandinavian crime fiction to the next level.
When I read the description for Game, I was intrigued and hoped that the book would be a fun, fast-paced read. And I was not disappointed. Once I figured out kind of what was going on, I was hooked. The narrative switches back and forth from HP's to Becca's point of view throughout the book. The reader gets to experience their lives parallel to one another and this makes the differences between the siblings really stand out. I was intrigued by their back story and how it still plays into their choices and their loyalty to each other.
The reader follows along as HP gets drawn further and further into the Game and experiences the things he is willing to do in order to gain points, money and notoriety. Or the notoriety he thinks he is gaining. This book has some very interesting things to say about our society and our focus on "likes" and online fame. I found it quite interesting and so much fun.
I loved the conspiracy story line so much. Everyone loves a conspiracy, right? The Game has so much to revel in. I loved how HP slowly gets the bigger picture of what is going on - or what he thinks is going on. There is also lots of questioning what is real and what is fantasy.
There are also some pretty interesting supporting characters in the book who get to make big contributions to HP and his quest. I really liked HP's friend, Mange - or Farook, as he prefers to be called. He seems to be a true friend to HP and one of the people he can count on in a pinch. But there is also something else at play here, but exactly what that is hasn't been revealed yet. Farook has a lot of connections and I suspect he will continue to play a role in the books. At least I hope so.
I'd say the book definitely works, since when I got a couple of chapters into it I had to get the second book because I just knew I would want to read it as well. If it hadn't been so late when I finished reading Game, I would have started reading Buzz, the second book, immediately.