The more I look at the cover of Jesse Ball’s The Divers’ Game, I smile a little to myself–“ball,” “game,” it’s a match made in pun heaven!
However, for me, the book was not a match for my reading tastes. I’m normally not one for dystopian novels. But I decided to give it a chance, especially since the last time I almost stumbled into a previously dismissed a genre, I was pleasantly surprised. There have been other dystopian stories I’ve enjoyed: Bradbury, Orwell, Atwood–so my expectations weren’t high, but they weren’t met either.
I’m not saying I absolutely did not like the book, in fact, I will very rarely say that. This one just left me feeling unfulfilled and a little confused. It’s set up in three parts…but then there’s a bonus fourth “letter” from a character who essentially just showed up in those final fifteen or so pages.
Even though there was definitely common threads throughout the three parts (same place, same time), I thought they would be connected more, especially at the end. The first part focuses on a couple characters, the second on a new set, and the third yet another–I didn’t feel closure with their stories. Additionally, somewhat like Huxley, Ball doesn’t totally explain everything and so I was a little confused about some of the whys and hows of the story, like the holidays that are taking place at the time the story focuses.
I didn’t like a couple stylistic choices, however–quotation marks aren’t used, speaker tags are rarely used. While something so trivial as a set of “” may seem, a total lack of them is really unsettling…but maybe that was the idea. Also, new sections are simply started with a page break and the first line is bold on the next page so that was a little odd.
My favorite part was the end, the “letter” because it was the only time I felt a real sense of exposition, conflict, resolution. But honestly, that was about it. Overall, I think if you like dystopian future novels, this is a book worth checking out, it’s a quick read and it is somewhat engaging. If you like conventionality with books, this would probably be a pass for you.