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The Game (Firebird) Hardcover – March 1, 2007

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Celestial intrigue and the nature of storytelling are just two of the strands woven together in Jones's (the Chrestomanci books) inventive novella. Sent from her grandparents' London home in disgrace, Hayley arrives in Ireland to stay with her aunts and cousins in their rambling castle home. The girl takes to her new life almost immediately, especially the thrilling game her cousins play, in which they venture into the mythosphere—a mysterious realm where they perform various tasks drawn from the worlds of fairytale, myth and legend. In the course of her own quests, Hayley discovers the truth about her own unearthly nature. She gets the chance to rescue her long-lost parents from dreadful fates, to which they've been condemned by domineering Uncle Jolyon, a power-hungry god thinly disguised as an unpleasant business man. Readers less familiar with classical mythology will be helped (and may well find their interest piqued) by a note at story's end that clearly links the original Greco-Roman characters with their modern-day avatars. A sparkling treat. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—What if just outside of Earth's known atmosphere there sat another layer that was actually a different dimension? Such is the premise for this novel. For as long as she can remember, orphan Hayley has lived sequestered away with her strict grandmother and mysteriously busy grandfather. A chance meeting on an outing lands her in big trouble and she finds herself shipped off to stay with relatives in the country. Here Hayley meets dozens of cousins who invite her to play a strange game. Its object is to go to different places in the mythosphere and retrieve various items while dodging mythological creatures. The plot thickens when she meets her father and learns that he and her mother are both trapped in the mythosphere as punishment for their illicit marriage. Hayley frees them and discovers that she, like all of the other characters in the story, is really a mythological figure who can live in either realm. Meanwhile, the frightening family patriarch, Uncle Jolyon, finds out about the game and comes after the girl, her parents, and her cousins. As he prepares to punish them all, Hayley pierces his chest with a star, causing him to transform into the planet Jupiter. While the beginning parallels The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the story takes off on its own midway through. There is a whole lot of plot for such a little novel, and readers unfamiliar with mythology won't fully appreciate it.—Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: Firebird
  • Hardcover: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142407186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142407189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Diana Wynne Jones has dabbled in mythologies in a modern setting before, though she usually sticks to multiverses. But she tries out a new approach in "The Game," a solid fantasy novella that dips into Greek mythology for the biggest family drama this side of Olympus.

After angering her grandmother -- she's not sure how -- Hayley finds herself being shipped off to her aunts in Ireland. Upon arriving, she finds herself swamped in dozens of family members, including quite a few cousins. Soon her cousin Harmony introduces her to The Game, where the children travel into the mythosphere (all the legends and great stories), and fetch back enchanted items.

But they have to do it in secret, lest the forbidding Uncle Jolyon learns of it. And when the children play the last round of the Game, Hayley finds herself having to fetch a golden apple from a dangerous garden -- and learns of her mysterious past, and the prophecy that has Uncle Jolyon wanting her out of the way.

Jones always comes up with the most incredible ideas -- in this case, a sort of mythological scavenger hunt, and a story that includes a bunch of minor Greek deities. In fact, it's kind of surprising that Jones didn't expand this novella into a slim book, with a few more adventures in the mythosphere and some more family antics.

The family antics and descriptions are tightly written, but Jones really hits her stride when the Game comes into play -- then we have the larger-than-life depictions of things like the Hesperides, as well as a very modern version of Hades. And the dialogue has that touch of humor, with a nod to J.R.R. Tolkien during one round of the game.

Hayley's a pretty likable kid, with a melancholy side about her missing parents and her ultra-strict grandmother.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones -- at her best there is no one who writes better (easy reading) fantasy in the English language. This novella (too short to be called a novel) is not her best. She has a grand concept here (though one that is not entirely unique as a similar notion is employed in Neil Gaiman's American Gods novels): that the collective beliefs we call myths take on a life of their own, in a parallel series of realities she calls the "mythosphere." Some individuals can "slip" in and out between their mythical existence and the world we call home.

Given that premise, "The Game" seems like a rough draft of a possible opening story that would introduce such a universe. The problem is that she published it, and it appears to stand alone. On its own this novella doesn't really do justice to the grand idea behind it.

The story only hints, for example, at what might happen when mythical beings from different strands interact. It doesn't go very far in clarifying the precise relation between the "mythosphere" and "mundane existence" and doesn't explain how these realms connect -- as another reviewer mentioned: the time scales of both seem to be very different but there is no indication of how that affects the characters' experiences of "mundane" reality. It also never really fleshes out the characters and especially the main character -- except to depict her as the standard type of fantasy hero/heroine: an orphan who is raised by adults who don't understand her and fear what she can become, finally gets a chance to escape and meet others like her and discover that her destiny is great.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Lamb on April 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Diana Wynne Jones, but I was disappointed by this one. Hayley, the main character, joins her cousins in a game in the mythosphere. You can read about the plot in some of the other reviews. The mythosphere, a place where all the myths have some sort of physical reality, is a wonderful idea, and I hope Jones goes back to it. But in this book there's no character development and very little at risk, so the story just doesn't hook the reader. And though the book is intended for children, say 10-13, it assumes a familiarity with myth that American children, at least, will not have. There isn't even enough description--I wanted to know a lot more about the mythosphere, and about the objects the children gather there.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By La Coccinelle on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Diana Wynne Jones, so when I saw that she'd written a new novel, I was excited. Unfortunately, this book fell far short of my expectations.

I think one of the main problems was that I couldn't identify with the character. We're not told very much about Hayley (presumably because Jones was trying to keep the true identities of the characters a secret until later in the book). I couldn't figure out how old she was, or anything about her that really mattered. I assumed, though, that she was about 10. The problem with that assumption, however, was that she then went and followed strange adult men into bushes, without really questioning the situation or her own safety. A similar theme appeared in "Fire and Hemlock", but that was written decades ago when child predators weren't as much in the news as they are today (and the main character in that novel eventually grew up, rendering her friendship with a man twice her age somewhat more acceptable).

I do appreciate Jones's creation of the "mythosphere", and I thought it was an interesting idea. However, I would have liked to see more of it. So many books for children today seem to suffer from a lack of editing. If anything, this book seemed to suffer from over-editing! It seemed as if large chunks were missing. Certain things were badly or barely explained. How could a wedding photograph of Hayley's parents even exist if they were as old as they were supposed to be? Why did Hayley have no memories of the world changing around her? Surely she would have noticed that computers, cars, and airplanes were relatively new inventions. How did she pin Jupiter to the sky when the planet was already there?

There also didn't seem to be much peril.
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