Game Review
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Every day, many of us take to social media, sharing the most mundane aspects of our lives with an audience of both friends and strangers. For some, it’s a harmless diversion. For others, it’s a serious competition—trying to come up with the wildest, wittiest statements in hopes of collecting the most likes, the most retweets, and the most followers. Swedish author Anders de la Motte takes that obsession to the next level with Game, the first installment in a thrilling new trilogy.

Game introduces Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a young slacker from Stockholm who’s on his way home from a night of partying when he finds a flashy cell phone on the subway. HP has no qualms about stealing the phone—it’s sure to make him some good money—but he’s surprised when it starts sending messages directed specifically to him.

The messages invite HP to play a game—and once he accepts, he finds himself pulling off pranks and earning the praise and adoration of his online audience. But when the stakes get higher, he learns that there’s more to the Game than just a little bit of harmless fun.

Game takes society’s obsession with social media to the darkest of extremes. HP may not be posting the video footage of his assignments on Facebook or YouTube, but his motivation is the same: entertaining and impressing his audience. And once he gets that recognition, there’s no stopping him. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep it coming—even as his assignments grow increasingly harmful. As long as it gets him more points, more followers, and more praise, he’ll do whatever he’s told to do.

The Game itself is pretty intriguing, with challenges that can be silly or playful or just plain dangerous. And, for that reason, it’s disappointing that the story doesn’t spend more time inside the Game. Instead, it takes a step outside the Game to discover what it’s all about. But that’s where the suspense comes into play, making you begin to wonder what’s real and what’s just a product of HP’s growing paranoia.

Meanwhile, as HP gets caught up in the Game Master’s world, the novel also spends time with HP’s sister, Rebecca, a bodyguard for the Swedish Security Police. Rebecca is struggling with her own dark secrets, but her story isn’t nearly as fascinating as her brother’s—and it seems to distract from the action more than anything else.

Despite some distractions, though, HP’s story will keep you coming back for more, eagerly turning the pages until it all comes together in a conclusion that will stop you in your tracks. It’ll make you rethink everything as you wonder where the trilogy can possibly go from here.

It certainly has its share of flaws, but Game is still an alluring first installment in a fascinating new trilogy. If you decide to pick up a copy, be sure to post about it to all of your Facebook friends and your Twitter followers.

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