I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Suspense, Thrillers, Contemporary
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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.
I’m so disappointed! The blurb had me practically salivating right before I requested it on Netgalley. A boarding school? A secret society? A game of assassin? SIGN ME UP. I foolishly thought this would be a darker version of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. And dear friends, I must confess a grave fault of mine. I HATE BEING WRONG. My blood seethes, I plot out the most epic of revenges, I… I should stop now. *waves* I’m normal, I swear!
The Assassin Game features two of my hated tropes, lack of parental presence and the absence of authentic female friendship.
I know the story is set at a boarding school, but that’s not an excuse to completely ignore the parents (unless it’s more of a reform boarding school, I suppose). Our main character, Cate, goes on and on about how her parents don’t care for her. That they got rich and suddenly left their old life behind and had no use for their daughter. It just didn’t make much sense to me. There didn’t seem to be a reasonable explanation for their absence and lack of interest in her.
I also found myself quite appalled at the lack of strong friendship within the story. Isn’t that the pinnacle of an excellent boarding school tale? Cate is supposedly best friends with Daniel and Marcia. She is on the outs with Daniel because she kissed him last year while rebounding off another quasi-relationship. Marcia, on the other hand, is her roommate but is practically absent in their friendship throughout the entirety of the book.
I’m also going to briefly mention the setting. The school is located on a remote island (owned by Cate’s family) that can only be accessed by the mainland during low tide. The headmaster of the school has banned recreational use of technology and internet. I believe all this was written to maintain an aura of intrigue and mystery. But it just came across as a little over the top and ridiculous.
The premise of the story is that an elite secret society is playing a game, The Game. And Cate has finally been invited to join. There is a Killer amongst their midst, who will ingeniously target his/her fellow players via harmless pranks that will ‘kill’ them until someone manages to unmask him and ‘win’ the game. Vaughn, Cate’s childhood friend (from before her family got rich), joins the game as well. But suddenly, people are starting to get seriously hurt.
This was supposed to be exciting and thrilling. I just found it lackluster and long-winded. Cate didn’t play much of a role in this mystery until the very end. For the most part, she was a witness. Or the occasional sidekick. She wasn’t the driving force behind the story. Just an unfortunate participant. Which, unfortunately, made reading from her perspective quite dull.
Fortunately, there were some redeeming aspects to the novel. For one, this kept me guessing till the very end. However, I did hit a certain point when I stopped caring and just wanted everything to be over. Cate also had some redeeming qualities to her that helped keep me interested. Even though she mostly remained a passive character, there was a moment when she stood up to all the people that she was trying to impress in order to do the right thing by a friend. She also displayed moments of startling maturity when it came to handling some traumatic experiences with Daniel. And I enjoyed her relationship with her art teacher, especially because it was a close yet appropriate connection.
I wish I had enjoyed The Assassin Game more. But as I come to the end of this review, I just feel a profound sense of relief. That I can finally move on to something else, and not have to think about this book anymore.
Ciao, my friends! Have a wonderful (and safe) 4th of July!