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The Game of sunken places

by M.T. Anderson


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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Anderson serves up a fantasy thriller that neatly combines the techno-savvy of his Feed, the horror themes of Thirsty and the sharp humor of Burger Wuss. Thirteen-year-olds Gregory Buchanan and Brian Thatz have accepted an invitation to stay with Gregory's Uncle Max in Vermont over their school's two-week October break. Gregory does not know Max well (he is actually the adoptive father of Max's now-adult cousin, Prudence) but warns Brian that he's "probably insane. He lives in kind of a different world from the rest of us. You know? The kind of world where electricity is a lot of invisible spiders." True to horror-story convention, locals urge the boys to turn back as they approach his estate. Max is indeed ominous, and their reception bizarre (why do the servants incinerate the boys' clothing?). Right away, the boys find a board game (from which the novel takes its title) that seems to depict Max's estate—but soon new places begin appearing on the board. Gregory and Max learn they are participants in a high-stakes Game run by the so-called Speculant; with characters like an axe-wielding troll and an infuriated elf, portentous place names (the Ceremonial Mound, the Hill of Shadow) hard-to-discover rules and riddles, the Game proceeds like an elaborate computer fantasy adventure. Anderson keeps the tension high even as he cuts it with colorful prose and an insightful motif involving the boys' friendship. Dexterously juggling a seemingly impossible profusion of elements, the author builds to a climactic series of surprises that, exploding like fireworks, will almost certainly dazzle readers. Ages 9-12.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-9–Thirteen-year-olds Brian Thatz and Gregory Buchanan accept a cryptic invitation to visit Gregory's weird Uncle Max and cousin Prudence in Vermont. Uncle Max, a Victorian-era throwback, greets them in a horse-drawn carriage and dispatches them to his creepy old manor house. Once there, he burns the boys' luggage and everything in it, forcing them into the heavy tweed knickerbockers and starched shirt collars he prefers. Then an all-consuming game begins, though the hapless boys are not informed of it. It subjects them to every fiend Anderson can imagine, from bridge trolls and ogres to nefarious man-monsters in billowing cloaks. The boys are confused, and readers are likely to be as well. Anderson's prose is deliberately disorienting and chaotic, and his characters are quick-witted and engaging. This is an action-packed adventure, but the convoluted story line, abrupt scene changes, and unstable landscape will not be everyone's cup of tea.–Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.:

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