- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Tindal Street; Main edition (1 Feb. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1906994315
- ISBN-13: 978-1906994310
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,520,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Game is Altered Paperback – 1 Feb 2012
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A highly original writer --Guardian
A fresh and authentic voice --Iain Sinclair
Hip, futuristic literary fiction about alternate-reality gaming. Cory Doctorow by way of Jennifer EganSee all Product description
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Mez Packer gives us another fast-paced, engaging psychological thriller in this, her second novel from Tindal St.
Combining exquisitely-observed characters and provocative ideas about the digital world most of us find ever-more-compelling, The Game Is Altered is a hugely enjoyable, intriguing read that I gobbled up in one go.
I loved the writing. Mez always finds the surprising but perfectly-expressed detail and can tell a story that kept me turning the pages well after I should have been doing something else. As in her first novel, Among Thieves, her eye for locale and gift for dialogue deliver convincing people who inhabit real places, which here include all the members of a stunningly dysfunctional family, a West Indian barbershop in a down-at-heel part of a dreary town, a nasty nightclub, and an utterly convincing fantasy-gaming world complete with its own language.
Personally, I hope she will take Mr. Barber and write another book in which he is the main character. But whether she does or not, in The Game Is Altered, Ms Packer shows her ability not just as someone who can recall and write about her own past but as a writer who understands important larger issues deeply enough to posit where we all may be after a few more years hurtling down our road to a shared digital future.
Lionel was raised by an adoptive white family who never treated him as an equal - except for his adopted sister Lilith, his only friend, who keeps disappearing as soon as Lionel needs her. Lionel falls for the seductive Eve, but soon becomes obsessed with a young girl working as a trafficked prostitute in the `health centre' near his flat. But none of these women are truly as they appear, and Lionel begins to wonder which is more real: his own life, or Ludi's.
Themes of virtual existence, family tensions and memory overlap to create a rich, compelling novel. Although there are multiple plot-threads concerning technological and political issues, the emotional core is Lionel's search for the truth of his birth and parentage. Occasionally the twin narratives of Lionel and Ludi don't seem to fit together, but when they do align it's wonderfully clever.
The Game is Altered is a slick and emotionally affecting novel - proof that Britain's independent publishers are putting out some of the most exciting fiction around. Author Mez Packer and publisher Tindal Street are both ones to watch.
The story of Lionel is slightly sad, and incredibly real. It is set in the future, but not so far that it is out of the present day reader's reach - I expect that technology will advance in a very similar way to that described in the book. The characters are robust and complex, and I found myself deeply empathising with them. Yet, after feeling like I knew them inside-out, I was still shocked by the evolution of events along the way, and was genuinely surprised by the novels revelations. I like surprises.
I described the novel as 'gritty' in my title; as I mentioned, the story is incredibly 'real' and it does not skip the uncomfortable parts of reality. Packer approaches difficult topics surprisingly poetically. It is the detail, not just in these parts but the whole novel, that makes the book flow so well, despite having a complex story line.
I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read, and enjoy, a book unlike any they've read before, and I can't wait till my friends and family have read it so that I can talk to them about it!
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