I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: These Deadly Games
AUTHOR: Diana Urban
Publisher: Wednesday Books
PUBLICATION DATE: February 1, 2022
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Let’s play a game.
You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.
Are you ready?
When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a picture of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.
But then Crystal realizes that each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did...
Setting the Scene
Review in 10 Words (or Less)
Fast-paced creepy thriller but MC is too scatter-brained.
Mood Before Reading
In the mood for a romantic fantasy…
January 7, 2022 to January 12, 2022
These Deadly Games is a thriller about Crystal, a gamer who hopes to compete in and win an esports tournament. She’s hoping the prize money can improve her family’s situation, but before she can qualify for the competition, she’s forced to play a game that quickly turns deadly.
As a whole, These Deadly Games is quite suspenseful and a tad bit creepy. It is definitely more of a thriller than a mystery and now that I’m thinking about it, it makes me want to cover all the cameras on my devices and stop sharing so many personal details online. It’s that kind of creepy. The gaming and technologic elements help add much-needed tension to the book but I also feel like it could go over some people’s heads. The more techy elements are explained well, but if I wasn’t already familiar with them, I’m not sure I would fully understand some of their implications. The book is too fast-paced to fully digest the explanations behind all the creepy tech stuff going on.
The plot was intriguing but I meant what I said earlier when I said These Deadly Games is more a thriller than a mystery. It’s more about how the game will end rather than who’s the evil person behind the game. Which is a good thing because I figured out who the mysterious deadly game master is halfway through the book so Crystal’s big “ah ha!” moment fell flat for me. It’s one of those times where not having a prime suspect in mind would lead to a more enjoyable reading experience.
As for Crystal, well, I have mixed feelings for/about her. She spent most of the book making me want to sigh and rub my temples. The sad thing is I was genuinely cheering for her and cannot begin to imagine the amount of stress she was under. However, she makes so many stupid choices and mistakes that annoyed me so much. Those choices/mistakes wouldn’t have been a big deal if she was just supposed to be your average person because she’s still a kid and have I mentioned the extreme pressure These Deadly Games put on her? But Crystal isn’t depicted as your average person – she’s supposed to be smart and reasonable and able to play under pressure. Or at least that was my impression of her before shit started to hit the fan.
To be fair, I didn’t have much time to connect and get to know normal Crystal because the deadly games started pretty quickly, like within the first few chapters. Normally, I’m an advocate for fast starts, but I feel like I needed more time to connect to Crystal before the stress starts getting to her in order to better understand her character (and dumb choices).
These Deadly Games is a fast-paced thriller that’s a little too fast-paced.