Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 / 5 stars)
Every year, twenty contestants are “nominated” for the popular television show, Game of Mass Destruction. The goal is simple: kill robots or be faced with certain death. When Yuzuko and her partner, Sakura, are nominated, her entire world is turned upside. She soon discovers her family history is more entwined with the game than she ever imagined. But can knowing that stop the game for good?
With a diverse and large cast of twenty characters, used as Sia Bucks’s pawns in the Game of Mass Destruction, Chloe Gilholy draws us into an addictive world of violence reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. It is almost impossible to look away as the players succumb to violence and desire, racking up points as they destroy the robots. This in itself is the beauty of the novel: Gilholy writes it in such away that you keep reading, even as the bodies pile up, just as what would happen if the Game was broadcasted on national television.
Sia Bucks makes the game even more fascinating. A unique villain with curly purple hair and a lust for chaos, she commands the story. Each time she appeared, I reveled in her chaotic evil and melodramatic diatribes. Characters tried to rationalize what she did, but the reality is simple: Sia Bucks is evil for the sake of it, and it is fun to watch!
Yet, while the pace of the story lent itself to the game, making each seen move with the anxiety and intensity of an adrenaline-fueled game, it falls the characters short. With such a large, named cast, we don’t have time to really get to know the characters. Even the protagonist, Yuzuko, is only glanced at briefly. What did I know about her? Not much. There were elements mentioned: she didn’t like violence, she loves Sakura, she loves her “Aunt Kiki” – a robot, and she has a son who wasn’t mentioned much. There were other interesting characters: Ros and Aron, Todd and Bobby, Magiangela, and more, and to an extent I knew more about them in their brief appearances that Yuzuko.
I think if the cast was smaller, or the book was longer, it would have given us a chance to really get to know these characters. Some odd moments and interactions appeared between the characters (such as Sakura running off, Alfie’s interaction with his mother, Yanyu and Chang-Hoon’s romance, and the constant affairs among the cast), and I think getting into the heads of the characters more, or focusing on just a couple, might have helped us understand these events. Gilholy does not lack the talent to characterize her cast, as shown Sia, and even characters like Magiangela. But with so many moving parts, it makes it hard for the audience to really get to know this unique and diverse cast before some of their unfortunate demise.
That being said though, I really had a lot of fun reading this book! It was exciting, while also examining some innate human desires – such as how danger brings out the best, and worst, in us. My recommendation for picking up this book is simple: imagine you’re watching a reality TV show while reading it, because that’s how it plays out. The fact that Gilholy can capture that feeling in a book deserve applause of its own.
So if you want a fast, entertaining, and fun read, I definitely think you should check out Game of Mass Destruction. It might make you second guess your reality TV show habits though.
What’s it about?
Yuzuko’s perfect world is disturbed when she is forced to take part in the 30th season of Game of Mass Destruction, a reality tv show where twenty contestants have to fight robots and each other for a chance to become a billionaire. Each robot they destroy gives points, but extra points are rewarded for acts of sex and murder. Whilst Yuzuko is united with online friends, she discovers dark secrets about her family as she confronts the gameshow’s owner the notorious Sia Bucks. Will she survive and become victorious or will it be a comedy of errors with violence and chaos?