Monday, July 4, 2016

The Assassin Game » Book Review

I'm so disappointed! The blurb had me practically salivating right before I requested it on Netgalley. A boarding school? A secret society? A game of assassin? SIGN ME UP. I foolishly thought this would be a darker version of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

I couldn't have been more wrong. And dear friends, I must confess a grave fault of mine. I HATE BEING WRONG. My blood seethes, I plot out the most epic of revenges, I... I should stop now. *waves* I'm normal, I swear!

Begone Tropes!

The Assassin Game features two of my hated tropes, lack of parental presence and the absence of authentic female friendship.

I know the story is set at a boarding school, but that's not an excuse to completely ignore the parents (unless it's more of a reform boarding school, I suppose). Our main character, Cate, goes on and on about how her parents don't care for her. That they got rich and suddenly left their old life behind and had no use for their daughter. It just didn't make much sense to me. There didn't seem to be a reasonable explanation for their absence and lack of interest in her.

I also found myself quite appalled at the lack of strong friendship within the story. Isn't that the pinnacle of an excellent boarding school tale? Cate is supposedly best friends with Daniel and Marcia. She is on the outs with Daniel because she kissed him last year while rebounding off another quasi-relationship. Marcia, on the other hand, is her roommate but is practically absent in their friendship throughout the entirety of the book.

I'm also going to briefly mention the setting. The school is located on a remote island (owned by Cate's family) that can only be accessed by the mainland during low tide. The headmaster of the school has banned recreational use of technology and internet. I believe all this was written to maintain an aura of intrigue and mystery. But it just came across as a little over the top and ridiculous.

The Game

The premise of the story is that an elite secret society is playing a game, The Game. And Cate has finally been invited to join. There is a Killer amongst their midst, who will ingeniously target his/her fellow players via harmless pranks that will 'kill' them until someone manages to unmask him and 'win' the game. Vaughn, Cate's childhood friend (from before her family got rich), joins the game as well. But suddenly, people are starting to get seriously hurt.

This was supposed to be exciting and thrilling. I just found it lackluster and long-winded. Cate didn't play much of a role in this mystery until the very end. For the most part, she was a witness. Or the occasional sidekick. She wasn't the driving force behind the story. Just an unfortunate participant. Which, unfortunately, made reading from her perspective quite dull.

The Good

Fortunately, there were some redeeming aspects to the novel. For one, this kept me guessing till the very end. However, I did hit a certain point when I stopped caring and just wanted everything to be over. Cate also had some redeeming qualities to her that helped keep me interested. Even though she mostly remained a passive character, there was a moment when she stood up to all the people that she was trying to impress in order to do the right thing by a friend. She also displayed moments of startling maturity when it came to handling some traumatic experiences with Daniel. And I enjoyed her relationship with her art teacher, especially because it was a close yet appropriate connection.

Closing Thoughts

I wish I had enjoyed The Assassin Game more. But as I come to the end of this review, I just feel a profound sense of relief. That I can finally move on to something else, and not have to think about this book anymore.

Ciao, my friends! Have a wonderful (and safe) 4th of July!


  1. Hi, I'm back from vacation ready to be your comment partner for the month! I would have thought this book was a fun Frankie Landau-Banks, too, so I am glad I read your review before picking it up. One of my pet peeves of YA lit is the absence of adults. Teachers are always brainless and parents are always neglectful. Sigh. Hey, have a wonderful 4th of July!

  2. I do not like boarding school books. Nope. So this book wouldn't even be a blip on my radar. Sorry it sucked for you, though.

  3. Yikes. This sounds... not good. The whole location thing would have thrown me off from the start. Is that even a "thing"? Wouldn't the school have washed away or something? Also, sounds like a mess, legally speaking. And whose parents only like them when they... don't have money? I feel like maybe I'd like my kids more if I had money? ๐Ÿ˜‚ Well, fine, maybe just the same as I always have, but certainly not LESS! And the fact that she's on this stupid isolated island with NO contact outside, yet her roommate is never there? It isn't like she's at the local Starbucks FFS! Ugh, sorry this was such a mess for you, but fabulous review!

  4. Yay! Glad to have you back :). I hope you had a lovely time on vacation!

  5. On to the next one, is my daily motto :P.

  6. Thank you for commenting! This book was such a disappointment but it does sometimes make for an entertaining review, lol.

  7. That's too bad...I hate it when you're all excited for a book only to realize the summary was the best part.

  8. It's the WORST. And I can't stop myself from seeing it through...