Author: Kirsty McKay
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Who will be left after lights out?
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?
Originally published in the United Kingdom by Chicken House in 2015 under title: Killer game (goodreads).
Oh boarding schools, you're the best place for creepy cult-like games and murder. While a fun trope, it's been done far too many times.
Plot: Without much introduction, McKay thrusts us into the Game. She opens the novel with Cate's initiation into the Game and doesn't pull any punches. The Assassin Game gets full marks in it's speed and pacing. It's a short novel that can be devoured in less than a day, especially with a mystery that tends to keep twisting and characters that seem guilty with each turn of the page. While it isn't original, I don't regret picking this book up - it just isn't memorable. And all of that mostly stems from our stiff characters.
Characters: Everyone in The Assassin Game is insufferable. There is Cate, who doesn't have much personality, and her motley group of friends. While the pacing was a smooth ride, I found all of the interactions to be absolutely jarring and unnatural, which is unfortunate since this novel really depends heavily on dialogue. The interactions are awkward and mostly feel like they aren't going anywhere. Each character is also "too much" of something. Either too corny, too misogynist, too sassy...."too" of everything. I do think that this would have been a stronger book if McKay had added some subtly to her characters - they all felt like they were based off of cartoon characters which made it hard to relate or like any of them.
Worldbuilding: The Assassin Game takes place on a small piece of land in Wales and it delivers in providing that "suffocating" feeling. It's not hard to believe that these teens would make such an elaborate game given their surroundings, but not enough time and detail is given to the boarding school itself.
Short N Sweet: The Assassin Game needed to take more time fleshing out characters and the world, but the plot is still something that will keep a reader committed to reading to the end.