These Deadly Games
March 6, 2022

Book Review

These Deadly Games

reviewed by Sandra Hoover

A young teenage gamer finds herself playing a high-stake life or death game with an unknown opponent in These Deadly Games.

Crystal is vying for a spot on a five-person team of high school gamers hoping to win millions in a tournament. Her chances are good, and she desperately needs the money to help her mother pay the rent after her father walked out. When Crystal opens a menacing message on an app, her world collapses around her. The message says, “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.” The “she” the message speaks of is Crystal’s younger sister, shown bound and gagged in the picture accompanying the message. Crystal already felt guilty for ignoring her sister for her gaming friends, and now she’s been kidnapped. She has to save her sister . . . but she has to play in that tournament. What choice does Crystal have? What would you do?

The games start off seemingly innocent with small, apparently benign directives. But as the game progresses, the stakes are raised, becoming hostile and threatening in nature. Crystal begins to notice bad things happening to some of her friends with each game she plays. Coincidence? Or are they connected?

Urban does a brilliant job controlling the pace and sinister tone of These Dangerous Games starting with an ill-boding opening that is sure to grab readers attention immediately. I found the plot line to be unique and yet quite fitting in today’s world of young, obsessed gamers with their own gaming language which can be difficult for non-gamers to follow. As the story unfolds, the stakes continue to ramp up in this plot driven novel increasing the tension through a few twists and turns. The characters are the weakest link in this story as they feel a bit underdeveloped and come across as unlikable in most instances. And yet, for the age group, I think they are actually portrayed quite accurately so kudos to the author for staying true to the age group and story. While the ending is a bit predictable, it in no way lessens the enjoyment of this psychological thriller. Intense and twisted with a highly malicious atmosphere, many readers will find it hard to put These Dangerous Games down. Highly recommended to fans of young adult suspense thrillers. 

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