Let’s play a game.
You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.
Are you ready?
When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.
But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…
As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.
Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed.
If you’re looking for a twisty psychological thriller offering unexpected surprises, These Deadly Games certainly checks those boxes.
Crystal is an easy character to root for. Her parents went through a messy divorce after her father became a physically abusive alcoholic, she’s trying to win prize money in a computer game tournament to help pay the overdue mortgage on their house, and she’s fiercely protective of her younger sister. Then her world is turned upside down when her sister is kidnapped, and Crystal is required to play a deadly game to save her. If she seeks help, tells anyone, or calls the police, her sister dies. She’s thrust into an impossible situation. The first couple assignments from the kidnapper seem bizarre, but it quickly becomes obvious he’s trying to hurt or even kill Crystal’s friends. And it all may be related to the secret she and her friends are keeping from five years ago.
Although I didn’t understand all of it, I really enjoyed the gaming angle in this story. These teens are well-versed in computer technology, and it’s something that figures prominently into the plot. I guessed part of who was behind the kidnapping, but was then thrown for a loop with the final reveal. Plenty of red herrings are offered, and at one point I even wondered if Crystal was an unreliable narrator. I’m pretty sure this is a standalone, but I didn’t get the resolution I’d hoped for at the end. There’s definitely potential for a sequel.
If you can suspend your disbelief just a tad, this a compelling YA thriller that will have you glued to the pages and keep you guessing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.