A Funny Game

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 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.

That’s all I’ve got, as always, you can send me suggestions for future books here. Look out for my post on They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez!


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