ARC Review: “The Assassin Game” by Kirsty McKay

Thank you to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I know I say that contemporary YA novels aren’t my thing, but I’ve recently read a few that I really enjoyed and I thought I’d give this one a go. The cover makes it look creepy and thrilling. While it would fall under the “thriller” category, the whole concept lacked a few things for me to give it more than a 3 star or better than average rating.

the assassin game

Title: The Assassin Game
Author: Kirsty McKay
Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS Fire
Expected publication: August 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, contemporary, thriller, mystery
Length: 336 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “At Cate’s isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game- it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “Killed” during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the “Killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join the Assassins’ Guild, she know it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she’s the next target?”

My rating: 3 stars

Cate, the main character, attends an elite private school for children of wealthy families off the coast of Wales. Every year, the higher grade level students initiate The Game (a ritual I would call akin to a “hazing”). The Guild picks a few members in their class to become Initiates. Once initiated, the rules of the Game are laid out in that one by one, the anonymous “Killer” will “Kill” students one by one until someone can rightly guess the “Killer.”

But when a “Kill” causes the authorities to spotlight the school, many members of the Guild wish to call the Game off. Cate and her old childhood friend, Vaughan, need to figure out whose hurting students before someone is truly killed. And it’s the person Cate least expects…

First off, I’m a detail-oriented in person in that–well, I like details, and this book lacked that a bit for me. I didn’t feel fully immersed in the story and I think a lot of characters were pretty flat. The story is very plot-driven. I like when characters make developments or have insights about themselves and I don’t get that here. The “thriller” part of the book was good, though you seriously have to trudge through a rather boring first part of the book.

There is some occasionally high school drama throughout the book so if you can avoid rolling your eyes at someone trying to get back at another for kissing someone, then you might like this. I will say that I didn’t guess the “Killer” until the very end, and I liked that because it kept me reading. I also liked that there was just an undertone of romance in the book. Not enough to label it a romance but the right amount because the romance is not the main focus.

However, I do feel there were some questions and things ended a bit openly. Right after we find out who the Killer is, we don’t get any of the in between details. The author merely skips to a few months later back with Cate. I almost felt it to be a loophole in the book. I mean, I suppose we don’t necessarily need all that information but it’s obvious that a lot happened afterwards. It sort of feels like there could be a sequel but it’s obviously not pinned for one.

Overall, it was a good read but I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my shelves.

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