- The Game by Linsey Miller
Miller, Linsey The Game. Underlined/Random House, 2020 [240p] Paper ed. ISBN 9780593179789 $9.99 Reviewed from digital galleys Ad Gr. 8-10
Lia has been preparing for a secret high school game of assassin, only open to seniors, for years. Once it finally happens, however, things start going awry quickly as Lia's first target turns up actually dead, rather than squirted with a water gun. In quick succession, two more students are murdered, and suddenly the shadowy game run by a mysterious Council takes on an ominous tone rather than a cool, edgy one. Of course, romance blossoms where it will, and even among the carnage, Lia and her long-time crush hit it off perfectly; if they can manage to stay alive, it could be something special. A game turned deadly is a chilling concept, particularly via the never identified Council who send out biting messages and new directives, despite the growing body count. In addition, these teens are diverse, queer friendly, and almost universally kind to one another, aside from their gruesome deaths. Unfortunately, Lia's own self-doubt makes her oblivious to the murderer's identity, just as it hinders her ability to see the good in her family, her overall lucky status, or an increasingly adoring beau. Readers are therefore almost certain to spot the pattern of the deaths and the likely killer (as one of the only non-central characters to get much page time) eons before the sometimes exasperating Lia. Even so, Riverdale buffs will likely still find much to enjoy in this teen-centric world where high school is a welcoming space, as long as you can actually survive it.