9 Oct 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: Tired of arguing over which of them was the best gamer, Josh and Alex stumbled upon a new video game shop, run by an enigmatic Japanese shopkeeper. He was to be their Game Master in this virtual reality game that had no game controls. Little did they know it was a game that would change their lives, of their friends ... and enemies ... forever.

- An abridged synopsis. For full synopsis click here.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter One: The Game Master}: Josh was never sure where he fitted in.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 86}: "So, so, so ..." The Game Master's voice was almost a whisper. "And when you do get your own way, is it always good?"

"Hmmm ..." The pupils beneath Alex's eyelids could be seen vibrating. "No. Sometimes I feel scared because I've done something I can't control or isn't good. It makes me feel frightened. It's like I've trained my parents to let me do what I want, but I don't understand the limits of what I can cope with ..."

SOURCE: My thanks to the author who very kindly sent me a copy.

MY THOUGHTS: Well, this was certainly different.

Take two typical boys with an uneasy and highly competitive friendship. Add an enigmatic (and what I thought rather creepy) Game Master and a video game, the 'Game of Life', that, without any of your usual controls, 'draws from your thoughts, your memories and generates experiences for you' and you have Ian D Copsey's The Game Master.

Always different to review a book aimed at children as opposed to one aimed at other adults, I admit to particularly struggling with The Game Master. Constantly feeling that I was 'missing something' simple and yet crucial to the plot. Could it be that as an adult I was looking for something that simply wasn't there rather than as a child who may well enjoy the book at face value? I simply don't know but the feeling that I was missing something persisted and even more so during the latter part of the book.

Then there was the whole age thing. Informed by the author himself that the book is aimed at nine to thirteen year olds, I personally would have struggled to put an age range on it but, on reflection, would think it more suitable for those at the upper range.

Despite what I felt was an incredibly creepy looking Game Master I thought the cover suggested a novel for younger readers but then some of the content suggested otherwise.  The ever so slightly sexual innuendos - 'the schoolgirl Christie' commenting "I prefer looking at hairy chests", the Game Masters "Oh my .. This is a family show, but we can organise a private room for you later" a bit, well, disconcerting and arguably not particularly age appropriate. 

In many ways more about life lessons than gaming itself. I guess you could call this a coming of age story albeit it one with a difference.

I was delightfully surprised at how philosophical the story could be (something that might possibly go over the head of those less mature readers?), of how much I came to reflect on the outcomes of the 'game' as the boys progressed through each level thus changing their outlook on life.

Essentially conflicted. I so much wanted to like this book more than I actually did. Wonderfully quirky and with huge potential, I'm afraid for me it somehow just didn't quite hit the mark though that is not to say it won't appeal to a younger generation - I know my niece (a little older than the age to which the book is marketed) is eager to read it.


Lily B said...

hummm interesting, the cover def suggests young readers

Gina R said...

I agree with you both, the cover looks much younger but that content. *raises eyebrows* Not exactly G rated.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... might really appeal to my younger cousins. Might have to have them check this one out. I love that it was philosophical. You might be surprised what the kids pick up.

Kelly said...

It would be interesting to get your niece's perspective on this if she reads it. I thought it sounded different and fun initially, but now I'm not really sure.

Melliane said...

I didn't know about this one but it's nice to see you had a good time. It sounds really different!

Natasha Hill said...

I really like the premise of this - I've always been fascinated by fantasy worlds and the idea of having a game set up sounds really interesting - I'll have to try and find this and read it, it sounds interesting! Lovely review, as always, Tracy and thank you for all of the lovely comments you leave. - Tasha

Brian Joseph said...

I do think that the best children's books are a bit philosophical. On the other hand, if you felt that something was missing, it probably was.

Those lines with the innuendo really do seem out of place.