on 9 December 2013
When I read the synopsis of the book, I was highly intrigued and bought it on the spot. But when I started reading the first chapter of the book, I thought I had gotten stuck with the most ridiculous book on the planet.
The first chapter involves Paul getting hit with a snowball (with a stone hidden inside it) to the chest by his crush/obsession, the feminine-looking Dargelos. Apparently, Paul becomes so ill that he is bed-ridden and advised by the doctor not to go back to school - or leave the house - leaving his sister to not only care for him, but for their sick mother as well. End of the chapter, "The Game" is revealed, which can only be played in their shared bedroom, and it involves the siblings trying to annoy each other until one of them leaves the contest with the last word, ideally having caused a display of angry frustration from the other.
Having read all that, I sat there thinking what a ridiculous, silly book this is. How soft is this boy that he can't go back to school? And with Paul obsessing over Dargelos (sobbing uncontrollably upon knowing he won't be able to see him again because he can't go back to school), and Gerard obsessing over Paul, I was left with the impression that they were homosexual. Only to have Gerard develop an infatuation with Elizabeth soon after, which left me confused.
I realized, halfway through the second chapter, that I needed to stop over-analyzing and instead delve into the story until I am lost in it. That worked wonders for me, because as soon as I came up for breath, I realized I had devoured the whole thing in less than two hours. And it left me speechless.
After Paul and Elizabeth's mother dies, they are left to fend for themselves, with the help of a nurse and Gerard (plus Gerard's father). Elizabeth takes up a job as a model, and meets Agathe, who moves in with them and becomes part of their family. As their family grows, and the siblings grow up, it becomes harder to stay in the private world (and the Game) that they shared for so long. But attempting to keep each other in The Game comes with a huge price, one that will leave you breathless with shock and sadness in the end.
Jealousy, intimacy, superiority, love, obsession with a subtle, yet consistent, hint of incest - this story has everything. It will confuse you, yet astound you. So just sit there and enjoy the ride.