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A Game of Life

A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]

After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.

Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.

The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.

I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.

This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.

Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP

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Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

More than six centuries in the future, the northern and southern hemispheres have divided. Between them rages a bitter feud that has lasted for centuries and left them in a constant state of war. Both believe their technology superior, but one of them is very wrong.

Southern Askari Naledi and northen  Commander Gregory Douglas encounter one another, and their fates entwine, leaving confused feelings and split loyalties. A tale of war, bravery, love, trust and betrayal comes together to bring about more violence between the hemispheres than ever before. As both sides play a game attempting to learn more about the other, they do a very dangerous dance.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it blew away all my expectations. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, and though this one sounded interesting, I still had my reservations. My reservations were not well founded, and the book was an absolute pleasure to read. The story Ms. Mitton has weaved together is an intense, can’t-put-it-down ride through an advanced civilization 600 years in the future.

The writing was excellent, something I really treasure in a book. It can make all the difference between an okay book and a great book, and this one was definitely a great book. There was a balanced mixture of well written, easy to follow prose, accented with the terminologies that qualify the book as science fiction. In the first few pages, I felt a little overwhelmed with the unexplained terms, but once I got into the meat of the book, all the confusion was cleared up.

The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks.  Because of the unfamiliar names, it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was “mated” with who in the southern hemisphere, but I didn’t find that to be terribly distracting. There were also a lot of characters, but I didn’t feel as though that was a drawback, as it can be in some books.

There were themes of homosexuality in the book as well, which I commend the author for. I thought the potentially touchy subject was approached confidently and handled deftly. Also, boldly written in was stereotypes many people in today’s world still continue to believe in, particularly in regards to race and ethnicity.  I felt the book had social commentary on racist views that still exist in some people, immersed in a page turning science fiction novel set in the distant future.

From what I can discern, this is Isbobel Mitton’s first novel, and it showcases her talent wonderfully. The story was compelling, in places heart pumping, and always beautifully written. This book is the first in a series, and the second book is in publication as well. I’m certainly going to be buying it and reading it immediately, I must know what happens next!

I cannot recommend Across The Realm highly enough, for both lovers of science fiction and people who do not typically read it.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B017FGWR2A

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