Review: The Game by Linsey Miller – The Nerd Daily

The Game by Linsey Miller takes The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie and twists it into a modern murder mystery for young adults. Filled with misdirections and tense atmosphere,The Game is sure to intrigue many young adult readers, though avid murder mystery fans may find themselves unraveling the mystery before it begins.
Every year, the seniors of Lincoln High play the game of Assassins to blow off steam and solidify bonds before going off to college. Lia Prince, who has spent her adolescence in the shadow of her older brother, has been planning and strategising on how to win the game and become a high school legend that’ll make her parents proud for years. With her meticulous research, best friend Gem, and crush Devon Diaz on her side, everything seems on track for Lia to achieve her goals. But then players in the game turn up murdered, one by one. With the stakes suddenly very real, Lia must unravel the mystery around the murderer before those closest to her are killed.
Let’s start with what this book has, which is some hefty triggers. First and foremost, the high school students are engaging in a game where they “kill” their classmates. Going into this book, I had the mindset of my own high school days, where games like this were played on darkened school grounds and was basically an elaborate game of tag. But Assassins in The Game is a little more complex and involves the use of water guns as a way to “take out” a target. At the first mention of guns, I started getting really concerned with where this book was going to go. And while I think Miller was able to work around it to keep the plot going (water guns, school is a safe zone, etc), I think readers should get more specific warnings about the way the game and “violence” towards classmates is discussed.
While there are other triggers to be aware of (graphic depictions of deaths, funerals, and panic attacks), there was one that actually played into one of the things that felt most real about the story: parental neglect and pressure. Lia has been worn down by poor parenting and the pressure to be more than her less than A+ self. Readers of any age will relate to the feelings of inadequacy and how they play into how we shape ourselves in our high school years.
The neglect and pressure of high school and Lia’s desire to win Assassins also brings forth a wonderful atmosphere of tension. Though the story does have some slow parts, the tension never leaves the story. Miller weaves a taught web of mystery over the game and ensuing murders. The narrative absolutely crackles with the stresses and anxieties of high school and delivers a realistic depiction of the pressures of being a student.
While Lia gets the most development, being the main character, the one who really shines through the story is Gem. As Lia’s best friend, Gem doesn’t get a huge spotlight, but they stood out nevertheless. Gem is non-binary and queer and it’s just who they are. Seeing diversity in gender and sexual orientation in a high school story, especially when handled in such a casual way, is a heartening thing to experience.
Unfortunately, not many other characters get much development, which makes it difficult to ultimately care for the outcome. I think a lot of this boils down to the length of the story. Clocking in at 240 pages, The Game is too long for a novella and too short for a well fleshed out novel. While Miller was able to keep a tense atmosphere with the murder mystery, there wasn’t much room left for world or character building.
While not always perfect, because no book can ever be, The Game is a quick and intriguing read. If you are looking for a taut murder mystery that will throw you right into the high school atmosphere, then this is the book for you.

The Game is available from Amazon, Book Depository, and other good book retailers, like your local bookstore, as of August 4th 2020.
Synopsis | Goodreads
If you loved American Horror Story 1984, you’ll die for this paperback original thriller mashup of Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders and Riverdale in which a game turns deadly with a killer who picks his victims one by one, letter by letter.
Every year the senior class at Lincoln High plays assassin. Lia Prince has been planning her strategy for years and she’s psyched that not only does she finally get to play, she’s on a team with Devon Diaz. But this year, the game isn’t any fun–it’s real. Abby Ascher, Ben Barnard, and Cassidy Clarke have all turned up . . . dead. Can Lia stop the ABC killer before he reaches D?
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