Friday, April 13, 2012

The Games, by Ted Kosmatka

The Games is an entertaining thriller with a dark side. It combines high-tech, genetic manipulation and gladiator style blood sport into a fast-paced and frightening look into the future.

The Games is about a future where genetically engineered creatures compete in an olympic gladiator competition. The event becomes incredibly popular and the competition between nations fierce. The United States dominates the event, but with each Olympics, the pressure to maintain that dominance grows. The latest US engineered creature is designed by an incredibly powerful new type of computer. The resulting creature is so bizarre and menacing that the persons in charge of training it call in an xenobiologist to try to understand it and unlock the secrets and dangers that may be hiding in its genetic code.

This book has all the things you look for in a good thriller. Engaging characters, fascinating plotline and a sense of danger that continually ratchets up leading to an explosive climax. My only complaint is a slight disappointment in the third act. The tension and build-up from the first two-thirds of the novel perhaps had me thirsting for an even bigger conclusion. There was also a stray plotline involving the designer of the virtual reality computer that felt rushed and incompletely resolved. Those concerns for me were relatively minor but the difference between being a very good book and a great book. 

The Games taps into a very real fear about could happen when technology advances faster than our ability to understand it. It is in the tradition of the best of Michael Crichton and explores the dark side of scientific advancement. Highly recommended. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book through librarything.