Book Review: THE GAMES

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The Games Review

Book Review: The Games / Author: Ben Ted Kosmatka / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: June 22nd

Somewhat ironically for a tale about the dangers of genetic science, The Games is itself a case of successful cloning, in that it's a pretty decent attempt to mimic the kind of Hollywood-friendly techno-thrillers penned by the late Michael Crichton. In the near future, a gory warm-up event has been added to the Olympic Games – gladiatorial contests between colourful creatures engineered from non-human DNA. But for the U.S. team, there's a dilemma – the genome for their contestant has been created by an enigmatic supercomputer, and, as the baby gladiator sprouts bat-wings and far too many teeth and displays signs of demonic intelligence, they start to wonder if they've gotten more than they bargained for…

The plot moves along fairly predictable lines and there are one or two naively transparent… uh, let's call them homages… to the Jurassic Park movie – for example, a venerable white-haired impresario who might be the evil twin of the character played by Richard Attenborough, and a fat, messy computer guy who evokes memories of the fat, messy computer guy who makes such a tasty lunch for that cute ink-squirting thing. But it's still never less than a tense, engaging read thanks to Kosmatka's coolly measured prose, his eye for the telling corroborative detail and his skill at orchestrating both small, intimate scenes and large-scale set-pieces. The beasties, which include a killer kangaroo from Australia, are fun too, although by some unfortunate oversight we don't get to see the British contestant – and I was so looking forward to a swan-bulldog hybrid with traces of lion and unicorn.

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