Book Review: The Assassin Game by Kristy McKay

by - 2:31:00 AM

Title: The Assassin Game
Author: Kristy McKay
Pages: 336
Genre: YA Contemporary/Thriller
Release Date: 01 August 2016

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? "

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

The Assassin Game was a perfect mix of contemporary and thriller all bundled up to make one really great book! Not only is the cover absolutely beautiful and captivating, but when I read that there was a game called "Killer" that is played by a bunch of isolated teen geniuses, I was sold. I've been diving into more contemporary books lately, and when I saw that this was not only contemporary but also thriller/mystery, I was super excited! This book did not disappoint and I flew through all 336 pages of it in just one sitting because I was dying to know what happened. 

This book follows Cate, a "normal" girl at an isolated school for genius teens that resides on the island of Skola, which is just off of the Welsh coast. Cate is an average student, but it just so happens that her parents struck it rich and own the island, which is why she's currently attending the school. Within the walls of Umfraville, there is a secret society called The Assassins' Guild who play a game called "Killer." When Cate is accepted into the game, she's absolutely ecstatic, until someone starts playing the game to hurt people. Can she find out who the real assassin is before she ends up the next target?

The premise of this book was so intriguing to me, personally. A game played by teenagers at an isolated boarding school that turns into something deadly? Sign me right on up! Unfortunately, there were no actual killings, but that didn't take away from the feeling of danger that was constantly present throughout the book. The "killings" in the game are supposed to be silly-scary, and they were. It started out with paint in the shower head, then tea bags in the pool, and even "bloody" tennis balls being launched at targets. It was fun and creative, and no one really got hurt. But then someone decides to take things too far and people start getting hurt. All throughout the book, I had my suspicions of who the game killer and "real" killer were, and I must say I was wrong on both accounts. Was the reveal for either killer a big, surprising one? Not really, but I liked the little twist that the author added about who the "real" killer was!

As far as characters go, I would have to say that Vaughn was probably my favourite, with Cate being second. Vaughn was wild and crazy and unpredictable, and he was a fun character to read about because you never really knew what he was going to do next. Because of that, he was number one on my list of killer suspects! Cate was so-so, in my opinion. While she was the main character, she just seemed to be kind of flat, with not a lot of development throughout the book. She wasn't a bad character, I really did like her, but I do wish there had been a bit more growth with her throughout the book. From start to finish, she felt like she was the same Cate all the way through. Although by the end, she was surely more paranoid from everything that happened. The romance between Cate and Vaughn was both expected and unexpected. Personally, I felt like it had no place in the book, but it didn't really make me dislike the story or the characters at all. It just felt out of place and almost forced, simply to add a bit of drama for the end of the book. But, again, it didn't make me dislike the book at all, so it wasn't all that bad!

The characters I disliked the most were probably her "best friend" Marcia and Daniel. Marcia and Cate are supposedly best friends, but I have never "seen" a more strained relationship than theirs. They hardly talk, and basically just drift apart by the end of the book. Some best friend, huh? Daniel just gave off a super creepy vibe all book, and for a good reason. I liked nothing about him, and was slightly confused by the way that Cate said they were good friends when they were not only not talking throughout most of the book (likely due to an incident between them prior to the book) and when they did talk, nothing indicated that they were ever really close at all. 

Despite my slight disliking of certain characters, I felt like they were all written very well. I could easily distinguish between them all, and the group was made up of thirteen players and one Grand Master. Each was unique in the way that they spoke and interacted with other characters, and while there wasn't a lot of backstory or much information given about them all, I enjoyed them each in their own way and think they were great sub-characters that added to the story.

If there was one thing that I could pick about this book that was my favourite, it would have to be the writing. Kristy McKay absolutely brought the creepy feeling of being isolated on an island to life for me! I found myself flying through this book because I was just so invested in it and couldn't get enough of the world that was being built. One of the best aspects was the mention of the causeway, and how it would flood and literally close off the island from the mainland for long periods of time due to the tide. At one point, they have to bring in a helicopter to fly someone off the island and I found myself realizing just how alone the school was, and it was enough to give me goosebumps! Literally anything could happen on the island, and if the causeway is blocked and a bad storm is rolling through, there would be no help available from the mainland. Isolation is a terrifying feeling, and Kristy McKay really made me feel like I was on Skola, completely cut off from the world. 

With a creepy plot and setting, and characters I found myself getting invested in, The Assassin Game is the perfect contemporary thriller. There is no shortage of thrills and chills and the ending will definitely make you question what you've just read! The Assassin Game comes out on 01 August 2016!

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