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Book Review: The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

(spoiler alert) I picked this book up at the library when I was there looking for something else completely. I’ve been wanting to read one of Jones’s books and the description on the cover about magic and mythology really sucked me in. I love a good fantasy novel.

At first glance, the idea seems a genuinely good one: what would happen if the constellations came to life as real people? I imagine this book is meant to appeal to the Percy Jackson set (I still haven’t read those books). But in practice, the book was difficult to follow and slightly..well…boring (is there a nicer way of saying this?).

Diana Wynne Jones is obviously a masterful writer. One sentence is still memorable to me after closing the book: “Martya was a big strong girl with hair like the white silk fringes on Grandma’s parlour furniture–soft, straight hair that was always swirling across her round pink face.” Lovely. But memorable images and interesting characters are not enough for a good book–what is missing for me is a solid plot.

I’ve summed up the premise in the story in one sentence, but it actually takes quite a while of reading to get there. She starts out introducing an incredibly cute main character and her rambunctious, colorful family, but then when the actual driving conflict is introduced…it all becomes a winding mess. “The game” itself is strange and a little too ethereal to really get a good sense of what is going on. It almost reads as a giant inside joke that is hard to follow for everyone else.

I have heard lots of good things about Jones’s other books (including Howl’s Moving Castle, the movie of which I liked a lot), so I am hardly going to stop reading her writing, but I think perhaps this novel would appeal more to her fans rather than someone reading her books for the first time.

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