Mar 12, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: Invitation to the Game

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

This week's selection is Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes published in 1991. This is probably the first dystopian novel I ever read and I feel whole-heartedly that it is responsible for my love of this genre.

In 2154, eight recent graduates find themselves unemployed. They are all highly intelligent and soon become bored with living in their warehouse, despite the easy-going, feel-good lifestyle they enjoy at night.

Soon though, they receive a mysterious invitation to participate in The Game. It's an alternate reality game where you interact with other players in a controlled setting. It's quite safe as the system keeps you from getting injured and warns you of danger.

But as the players get more and more engrossed in the game, they realize that the rules have changed. Now it seems that they can be injured and that it isn't just a game. The government is using them as guinea pigs and they don't really care what happens to them when the experiment is over. What is the government up to and can the kids stop before they really get injured?

This book blew me away as a kid. At the time, the thought of playing an interactive, live-action game in a virtual world was kind of unheard of. I really identified with these kids as I was a relatively gifted child as well. They really seemed to stand out like kids from my advanced classes.

The Game was also very intriguing to me. I couldn't fathom the idea of using a virtual world as a training module for the government and I was even more blown away by the ruthlessness of the government. A great example of this kind of usage was seen in the film TOYS starring Robin Williams. The militaristic government decides that it knows what is best for the safety, well-being, and prosperity of its people, which may be the case, but they go about it the wrong way.

I must say it has been quite a while since I read this, but I am definitely looking forward to a re-read. If you like The Giver, Ender's Game, or The Hunger Games, then this will be a great addition to your dystopian/sci-fi collection.

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