Title: The Assassin Game
Author: Kirsty McKay
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
Who will be left after lights out?
At Cate’s isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game- it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “Killed” during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the “Killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join the Assassins’ Guild, she know it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.
But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she’s the next target?
Originally published in the United Kingdom by Chicken House in 2015 under title: Killer game
For those of you who don’t know, The Hunger Games is one of my favourite YA series. I also have a love for boarding school mysteries, and after reading Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns earlier this year, I decided to request this book as well… It is, basically, a sort-of “hunger games” in a boarding school; how can it go wrong?
Let’s rip the band aid off quickly, shall we? From the first chapter, I told myself I couldn’t possibly like this book. I read the following quote, and immediately lost all connection with the protagonist: “…most of the girls and a handful of the boys go gooey for Alex. He’s blond and tall and good-looking in a screwed-up Hitler Youth kind of way, and that’s obviously not my type on a typical day.”
The characters were very unmemorable and flat. The protagonist’s “best friends” are barely even present through the book. No one is really developed to their full potential, so I never got to actually like any of them.
This, I think, leads to the main problem I had with this book: it wasn’t consistent. Sometimes, the protagonist and storyline are extremely immature, and then it gets very intense. Sometimes, nothing happens for pages on end, and then everything happens within a paragraph. Sometimes, you feel like dropping the book and never picking it up again…
And then it surprises you and actually gets good.
Changes in pace and registry are common in books; in this one, though, I felt like it was a bit too irregular. I just overall didn’t love the pacing and the found the jumps between some events to be too jarring.
Once I got over the disappointment that the cover art is conceptual and doesn’t actually pertain to a scene in the book, and that the pranks are borderline boring, I realized that the author has a pretty decent mystery going for her. That, I could definitely appreciate!
There’s the game of “Killer” that the kids play (the pranks mentioned above), and then there’s an actual wannabe-killer who is a proper psycho. I did enjoy looking past what I mentioned above to try to figure out who was who; especially the virtual component of the game, where everyone has screen names. You do feel a bit of whip lash as the “prime suspect” gets changed from one person to another (as the protagonist becomes more and more paranoid, also), but the mystery does get resolved and you can see the bits and pieces of foreshadowing in the story.
I figure that it’s a decent book; I was just definitely not the intended audience. I would recommend it for younger teenagers, perhaps. It was just a bit too immature for me to give it higher than a three star review.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.