Death is not an escape.
One night Ezra Adkins is brutally murdered in her own home. As she was dying, she expects to wake up in the afterworld.
She was wrong.
She loses consciousness and awakens into a horrific game of kill or be killed. Players can be killed an infinite number of times, but the only permanent way out of the game is their actual death by suicide.
Players in the game ruthlessly hunt each other for points, while others kill for fun. Most players have given up on finding an escape from the game and spiral into insanity, killing without reason.
Ezra soon learns who to trust and who to hunt down. But as she falls deeper into the game, she starts to lose herself as the bodies pile up. The line blurs between what she’s always known to be right and wrong.
Metal will clash. Blood will spill. Minds will break. And before it’s too late, Ezra must find an escape from the game before she becomes the real enemy.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
Straight out of the gate, I have to say this book impressed me. The concept was quite interesting and pretty dark. Children suffering from headaches, culminating in a migraine on the fifteenth day. A sign. They are marked to join a bloodthirsty game known as The Battles. Madness follows Ezra from the point she is marked, through the brutal killing that precipitates her entry into The Battles and beyond.
We get to see Ezra’s development into an accomplished combatant in the arena and all the things she learns about as she seeks to understand what she has been dragged into. She learns about Feats – supernatural powers that augment and enhance players in the Battles, how to use them and how they can easily take over if let to run wild. The players, Ezra learns, change as they acclimatise to the horrors they see, they are part of, and in some cases descend into madness. Quickly she learns that The Battles are a game of kill or be killed, and that mercy and trust must be set to one side if she is to survive.
I began this review by stating that this book impressed me. The story is really interesting. Dark and gritty, bloody and brutal. There are floods of real human emotions flowing through the characters as they learn to deal with their feelings and experience. It’s a real rollercoaster of optimism, fear, anger, hope, terror and bloodlust as we discover the continually changing emotions of Ezra and her fellow “players”. There is a depth to the characters. Something primally human deep down in each of them. I also loved that there was an almost video game-like quality to aspects of the story. The feats for one thing, and the fact that each player has stats related to their performance. Everything combines to make a fantastic story. But there is one more thing that really impresses me about this book. Parque is just fifteen years of age and has plenty of potential that can only improve with time.