Sunday, December 15, 2013

Game and Buzz

Game by Anders de la Motte
Atria/Emily Bestler Books; 12/3/2013
Paperback, 400 pages

ISBN-13: 9781476712888


One Sunday morning after a long night of partying, Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a slacker with a lot of ego and very little impulse control, finds a cell phone of an unfamiliar make on a commuter train. Through insisting and slightly uncanny messages that refer to him by name, the phone invites him to play a game. HP accepts without hesitation.
The rules are that HP must complete tasks that range from childish pranks to criminal acts, as allocated by the mysterious Game Master. HP is the perfect contender—alienated from society, devoid of morals, and desperate for fame. His completion of the assignments are filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the Players’ performances.
The Game starts out innocently enough and then becomes increasingly risky, threatening the safety of someone close to HP. He is determined to become a superstar, but when the dark and tragic secrets of his family’s past are at stake, HP must make a choice. Will he suffer the humiliation of defeat, or will the need to win push him to the limit—no matter the cost?
First in a fast-paced and riveting trilogy, Game will leave you guessing. Follow the rules, and everybody gets hurt . . .

Buzz by Anders de la Motte
Atria/Emily Bestler Books; 1/7/2014
Papaerback, 496 pages

ISBN-13: 9781476712918


It’s been four months since HP Pettersson was dragged into a ruthless Alternate Reality Game that nearly cost him his life. Although he now has everything he ever wished for—freedom, money, and no responsibilities—he isn’t satisfied. He’s plagued by insomnia and paranoia, and misses the adrenaline rush of the Game. He misses the attention. At times, he even hopes the Game Master will find him. And when HP catches the eye of a rich and powerful CEO for all the wrong reasons, he may get his wish. But he quickly learns that sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for . . .
My Thoughts:

Game and Buzz are the first two books in a three book thriller series by Swedish author Anders de la Motte.

In Game, the first installment, we meet Henrik “HP” Pettersson and his sister Rebecca Normén. HP is an aimless loser while Rebecca is a bodyguard with the Swedish Security Police. When HP acquires a cell phone left behind on a train, the mysterious device keeps asking him if he wants to play a game. He was just going to sell the thing for some quick cash, but when it asks him by name to play the game, he decides to give the game a try. He becomes embroiled in a game that is wide spread, more vicious than he could have ever anticipated, and more profitable if he is willing to take big risks. When HP decides to play this most dangerous game where his every move seems to be watched, he inadvertently gets his sister involved.

In Buzz HP was on the run for four months after the events in Game, but a set-up and circumstances force him back to Sweden where,  in order to investigate why he was targeted overseas (and to see if it was part of the Game), he gets a job by masquerading as someone else. In the meantime Rebecca is facing trumped up charges and is suspended from the security Police. While she's waiting for the investigation to be completed a cop-blogger seems to be targeting her for a fall.

In both Game and Buzz there are many references to social media and how it can be (or is) used for nefarious purposes or at least for influencing and trying to sway public opinion in a targeted direction. While they were interesting and at times quite thrilling, for me, at least, it felt like something was lost in the translation from the original. The whole narrative in both books just switches back and forth from HP to Rebecca with no indication of a transition. I got used to it over two books but it also diminished much of the potential enjoyment of the series.

Honestly, I found HP grating and annoying, while, basically, I liked Rebecca. Over time HP redeemed himself slightly above annoying in Game and into Buzz, but then I just grew tired of him and Rebecca - not a good sign. My lack of empathy with the characters coupled with the lack of transitions did not bode well for me overlooking the language and unattractive actions of the characters. While there were some interesting ideas, in the end both books amounted to a so-so read for me.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books via Netgalley for review purposes.

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