Author: Eve Silver
Release: June 10th 2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Aliens, YA
#2 in The Game trilogy
It’s either break the rules or die.
Miki Jones lives her life by her own strict set of rules, to keep control, to keep the gray fog of grief at bay. Then she’s pulled into the Game, where she—and her team—will die unless she follows a new set of rules: those set by the mysterious Committee.
But rules don’t mean answers, and without answers, it’s hard to trust. People are dying. The rules are unraveling. And Miki knows she’s being watched, uncertain if it’s the Drau or someone—something—else. Forced to make impossible choices and battling to save those she loves, Miki begins to see the Committee in a glaring new light.
And then the Game crosses a new boundary, pushes harder into Miki’s and her friends’ lives, and there’s nothing in the rules that can save them now.
Wow. Color me surprised.
I enjoyed Rush well enough back then, but there were a few basic things about it that did not sit well with me at all, and still don't. Still, I was kind of excited about this sequel, I don't know why either, but much like with Untold, I have found that I enjoyed this second installment so much more than the first one. Maybe it's just that because whenever I took up these, I was really in the mood for it, really feeling it? I don't know, but I'm very pleased.
I think what did it for me with this one that it was much more mature than Rush was, it dealt with important themes and resolved a lot of the issues I had in the first book satisfactorily, not perfectly — if truth be told, I think that's just what I liked best. They were a lot of blurred lines in this one, a lot of grey zones that were hard to contemplate and really made you pause and worry your lip for a second, mulling it over.
One of my bigger issues with book 1 was the romance, which seemed very insta-love and out of nowhere, with no real attraction behind it and nothing binding Miki and Jackson together, in fact, most of the vibes I got from their relationship made me think they were more of a toxic relationship, because Jackson kept ordering her around with Miki just obeying without thought. At least, that's what I am remembering about it, that's my lasting impression — I don't remember that much anymore about the first installment. Doesn't matter, because Silver comes to a perfectly imperfect conclusion on that fact, with Jackson and Miki sitting down and actually talking about their issues, about the problems they have with each other, especially considering the revelations at the end of the last book, and what is their agreement?
“I'm serious. How am I supposed to trust you? How can I know you won't lie to me again? Trick me?””I won't lie to you again.”
I stare at him. “You didn't even try to sound like you mean that.”
“I'll try not to lie to you again.”That, he means.“It's a start, but not enough.”He nods. “We'll work on it.”He didn't dismiss me. Didn't wave aside my words. Didn't act like I have nothing to be angry about. We'll work on it”
Everybody, I really, really think this deserves a slow clap. That's a HUGE step in the right direction for their relationship, because Jackson is finally starting to acknowledge Miki as a person, viewing her as his partner, as his equal and I loved that. They had multiple moments like these, communicating and talking it through, telling each other what they expect and want from their relationship, and they regarded their issues in a grown-up way, agreeing that change didn't happen overnight and the best they could do was give their word and try to work it out, somehow. Which is how it should be, always.
This way, with them being so adult, I also came around to really appreciating their romance. It felt real and I can see why they would fit, and why they would actually work. This is a couple that might actually have a chance of making it, and it's realistic. I had a problem with how cheesy it was portrayed in the first book, with them saying "I love you" pretty quickly, but Miki openly admits that her admission of that might have been a spur of the moment thing, something she simply did under the pressure of the situation at that time (if you remember, Jackson was dying in her arms), and later on, when Carly asked her whether she loved him or not, she doesn't give an answer because she doesn't have one, she's not sure, and it's so refreshing to see characters in YA realize that saying those three words is a bit more than meets the eye. She also dares to question whether their relationship is a good one at all.
“My feelings for him are confused: I told him I love him, and at the moment I said it, it was the perfect truth.But I'm not certain that loving him is good for me.”
However, despite her worries, she has no problem telling him what she needs from him in order for them to work.
“Because if I go with you, I run the risk of becoming your shadow, doing what you're doing just because you're doing it. Because if I go with you, it will be so easy to stop trying, to just float along in your wake, letting you make the plans and decisions, letting you choose where we go and who we see. I need to be me. Miki Jones. Not just Jackson Tate's girl.”
And the best part? Jackson supports her in that, agrees with her.
I just think that their relationship is so extremely well portrayed and I want that to come across right in this review. I cannot tell you how much I approve of them. If they asked me to give them my blessing, I would volunteer to be the priest myself.
Speaking of well done relationships, Silver also upgraded her other ones. For one, I feared that Luka would develop romantic feelings for Miki in the beginning and hello, love triangle, but I liked that the relationship between them was kept totally platonic and supportive, with both of them helping each other out in the bad times, without any nonsense romance. Also, Miki and her dad. They have a strained relationship, and a somewhat reversal of roles with Miki constantly looking out for him and his alcohol problems, but Miki comes to the realization that she can't control what goes on with her father and can't keep pushing him, because he's a grown-up and has to make his own decisions about his life.
“It's time to stop feeling like I can fix whatever's wrong with him, time for me to stop taking his choices on my shoulders. He's an adult. He's choosing to drink; he's choosing not to get help and stop. This isn't on me. I can only let him know how I feel about what he's doing — which I have. But it isn't my fault and I don't have to enable him or feed the problem.”
Again, so very important and inspiring, and I feel like Miki has made, or tried to make, progress with her dad and with how she herself copes with having an alcoholic father who doesn't get help. It's a step in the right direction and I have a feeling they might make peace in the third book.
I'm not done talking about the great relationships in this book yet, though, because there's still one more left, and that is the friendship between Miki and Carly. In the first book, Carly seemed more like a background artist in Miki's life who doesn't do anything, really, who's just there to show that Miki has had a life before the Game happened but she's going to completely disconnect now and that's it. Carly would distance herself as well, and it would be some kind of horrible plot device to make Miki lonely and miserable, driving her more fiercely into Jackson's arms, whatever, I don't know. But that's not the case, Carly was more fleshed out in this sequel, as was her relationship with Miki. I am all for empowering, kickass female friendships and I can never say no to one, so consider it the highest of honors for me to say that some of their interactions almost made me cry because I could literally feel the sisterly bond they shared.
“Can I come inside first?”“Always,” Carly says, her smile so bright I think I need to borrow a pair of Jackson's shades. Her eyes meet mine.
“And while I won't complain about the cupcakes, you will never, ever need a bribe to come inside.”
There's so much shit happening, with Miki constantly withholding a part of herself from Carly, being unable to tell her everything about herself, but Carly has nothing but a world of forgiveness and open doors for Miki, simply because she means so much to her and Miki, in turn, tries absolutely every- and anything to earn that forgiveness. It's a truly inspiring friendship between them, and I have absolutely nothing to criticise.
“In the end, we're both gasping and snorting as we let the pillows drop.“I love you,” she says. “There, I said it.”
(...) I'll never again have the chance to tell Mom. But I have the memories of a thousand times I did tell her, and the thousand times she told me. Those memories matter. “I love you, too, Carly.”
As for the plot, I was too distracted by the magnificence of the characters and their impressive development and the beautiful relationships Silver built to notice, really. I was never sure about the endgame, never knew in which direction exactly the plot was going, but I didn't even care. All I know is that, despite there not being a ultimate goal to keep an eye on, the book still doesn't lack in entertainment and plot twists and action, so there was never a dull moment, and I fully enjoyed myself.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better sequel. It's still not one of my all-time favorite series, and it probably won't be I don't think, but it is definitely one that I will keep in mind for the months to come, because at the end of the day, it is memorable. And leaves a lasting impression, something to think about. I am really eager for the third and final book now.