The Game by Scott Kershaw is a thriller that will keep readers pondering not just the ‘who’ but the ‘why’ as well. I had visions of Adrian McKinty’s The Chain when I read the blurb… someone literally playing games with those who don’t understand how they’ve become involved but have no way of escaping other than playing along.
by Scott Kershaw
Published by HQ
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
The rules are simple. To save their life, you have to play.
THE PERSON YOU LOVE MOST IS IN DANGER.
TO SAVE THEM, YOU MUST PLAY THE GAME.
THE RULES ARE: THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WINNER.
IF YOU LOSE, YOUR LOVED ONE WILL DIE.
ALL PLAYERS ENTER ALONE.
DO NOT SHARE THIS MESSAGE. DO NOT SEEK HELP.
WELCOME TO THE GAME.
YOU’VE JUST STARTED PLAYING.
[end of message]
Our players are forced to gather, and it seems a bit extreme that their puppet master hasn’t considered the logistics it’ll require… nevertheless they follow orders and are brought together then told the next stage of the game requires them to find the sixth player.
Kershaw drops in on some of the players’ loved ones as they’re held in captivity and it seems the person or people controlling the game have managed to involve several others to do their bidding.
Of course the biggest question is… why them? The five players are quite disparate and the loved ones taken ranging from an adult fiancé to small children. Kershaw allows us to meet all just before they become involved in the game and they all vary in their likeability, with a couple of players becoming quite unlikeable as the game progresses. We wonder if that’s part of the aim… to get them to show their true colours?
And in parallel we meet a group of online influencers, brought together for a game. Is it the same game we wonder? I was reminded of the TV show, Squid Game, with its competitors and observers.
We ultimately meet the sixth player and learn ‘why’ they’re all there and this is where everything fell apart a little for me. I struggled with the logic or motivation underpinning the whole game. In some ways, the game’s creator has done significant work in planning details, but there are glaring risks and – in some ways – it seems a bit haphazard. As if they’re committed, but at the same time desperate, so happy to see ‘something’ (anything!) come from their efforts. And when we learn more, their callousness doesn’t seem to fit with what we know.
That being said there is a lot to like about this debut novel. Kershaw certainly keeps readers in the dark. We’re not really able to guess who’s behind it all because that’s only offered up after the ultimate reveal itself. Overall however, this is cleverly plotted, complete with (a) very deft sleight of hand.
The Game by Scott Kershaw will be published in Australia by Harper Collins in May 2022.*
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
* I had understood this book had been released already (and had moved it up my to-be-read pile as a result) so it may already be available.