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The Assassin Game Paperback – August 2, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Cate's been harvested: chosen to be part of the Assassin's Guild, a secretive elite club at her boarding school. Playing the game involves avoiding being "killed" through a series of ongoing pranks. But what happens when the killing becomes real and the game becomes a nightmare? The book opens in a rush of excitement and suspense. McKay continues the thrills throughout the novel, leaving readers guessing at who may be mixed up in the murderous game. The writing can be choppy at times, with less than believable dialogue between characters, but the pace keeps the plot moving forward even when it falters. Fans of elusive thrillers like Gail Giles's What Happened to Cass McBride will enjoy this book thoroughly. Lovers of mystery and suspense and those who appreciate a good boarding school story will also engage with this fast-moving and adrenaline-packed novel. VERDICT Recommended for public and school libraries looking to expand their YA mystery collections.—Tabitha Nordby, Red River College, Manitoba, Canada
"McKay keeps things ambiguous so that readers will continue guessing until the true culprit is revealed in the climactic scene. Her witty, self-deprecating voice captures the thrill of belonging and the complicated emotions that come with new money. Smart, edge-of-the-seat thrills." - Kirkus
"Umfraville Hall, an exclusive boarding school on the windswept Welsh island of Skola, is an ideal setting for a mystery that takes a few cues from Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None... McKay (Undead) pokes a bit of fun at teen angst, using Cate's wry voice to tell this twisty whodunit.
" - Publishers Weekly
"Fans of elusive thrillers like Gail Giles's What Happened to Cass McBride will enjoy this book thoroughly. Lovers of mystery and suspense and those who appreciate a good boarding school story will also engage with this fast-moving and adrenaline-packed novel." - School Library Journal
"McKay's world building is topnotch and the suspense palpable." - Booklist
"Red-herrings abound in this page-turner... The fast-moving plot will motivate readers to sort through the many characters, guess at their motives, and spot the real criminal." - VOYA Magazine
"An exhilarating thriller from start to finish, this action packed book is full of betrayals, mystery and heartbreak. Both the Game and Cate's love life kept us guessing until the end.
" - Justine Magazine
"Perfect for readers looking for a good "scary" novel...THE ASSASSIN GAME has the perfect amount of romance, suspense, and action to make for a wonderful read." - TeenReads
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Top Customer Reviews
Part of this is because the protagonist is kind of bland – Cate is boring, and her boy troubles are exhausting. She seems like she is different, but she also bows down to the Guild like they are some savior group. Also, her outsider-in-a-school-of-genius thing really doesn’t offer much to the plot, as does her absentee parent past. She is mostly a wasted character, because there was so much that could have been done there. Vaughan was truly shady and I had my eye on him as the killer for quite some time. It should be mentioned that in the start, Cate is shown to be a little freaked out by stalking, but I did not understand why really – it was only a game at that point; no real element of danger, only the possibility of embarrassment/humiliation. And some things in the plot didn’t add up – like why was she kept in the sick bay on pills (!) or why the police were so incompetent. The identity of the killer was also a letdown, because it was what I was expecting and wasn’t exciting enough with the motive.
The writing was okay in some parts and good in others. Some scenes really came alive while others not so much. Characterization could have been better and not made it a cookie cutter ensemble. Overall? I would say it had a promising plot but failed in executing it.
Plot: Without much introduction, McKay thrusts us into the Game. She opens the novel with Cate's initiation into the Game and doesn't pull any punches. The Assassin Game gets full marks in its speed and pacing. It's a short novel that can be devoured in less than a day, especially with a mystery that tends to keep twisting and characters that seem guilty with each turn of the page. While it isn't original, I don't regret picking this book up - it just isn't memorable. And all of that mostly stems from our stiff characters.
Characters: Everyone in The Assassin Game is insufferable. There is Cate, who doesn't have much personality and her motley group of friends. While the pacing was a smooth ride, I found all of the interactions to be absolutely jarring and unnatural, which is unfortunate since this novel really depends heavily on dialogue. The interactions are awkward and mostly feel like they aren't going anywhere. Each character is also "too much" of something. Either too corny, too misogynist, too sassy...."too" of everything. I do think that this would have been a stronger book if McKay had added some subtly to her characters - they all felt like they were based off of cartoon characters which made it hard to relate or like any of them.
Worldbuilding: The Assassin Game takes place on a small piece of land in Wales and it delivers in providing that "suffocating" feeling. It's not hard to believe that these teens would make such an elaborate game given their surroundings, but not enough time and detail is given to the boarding school itself.
Short N Sweet: The Assassin Game needed to take more time fleshing out characters and the world, but the plot is still something that will keep a reader committed to reading to the end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The premise of the book was interesting, but it didn't fully live up to it's potential.Read more
Sadly, I was disappointed.Read more
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Read more