Book Review: A Game Of Life Or Death by Triona Campbell

I think everyone knows that I love video games by now. I love playing them, and books that feature video games as a plot point are definitely a highlight for me. I’ve definitely had my eye on A Game of Life or Death for that very reason. I’m loving that we’re getting more video game-inspired sci-fi thrillers. Hell yes!

I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy of this book from Scholastic. It was a surprise for sure, and I certainly appreciated it.

A Game of Life Or Death follows 16-year-old Asha Kennedy as she discovers her older sister’s dead body in their flat, and her entire life falls apart. Asha is certain that something suspicious is going on, and with the help of her hacker friends, she begins to look into the hit video games studio Zu Tech where her sister worked. She infiltrates the company through the e-sports tournament for their new game SHACKLE, and through her investigation, she discovers that the game hides a monstrous secret.

Ahhhh, this book was so fascinating.

Asha was an interesting protagonist. She’d been hacking since she was fairly young and gaming just as young. She was great at what she does, but at the same time, she was unable to do it all alone. It felt realistic that she had to work with others, even if those relationships suddenly put people in danger. This book is filled with secrets and though some of them felt kind of obvious, like Maya’s relationship, the big twist as to what was happening was the game was something I didn’t see coming.

There was a potential twist at the end that wasn’t confirmed. I’ll have to wait until the sequel to see if I’m right. But I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on with Dark. I’ve suspected it from reading the book and also the profiles on the website for this book. We shall see though. Let’s just say that I don’t trust him. I definitely preferred Augie as a love interest.

If you’re a fan of character-driven books, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. You get a deep dive into Asha’s head and watch as she tries to figure out what’s going on. She’s trying not to get close to others, but they all have their own things going on.

The writing in this book isn’t perfect, but that didn’t matter. I still gobbled this book up. It’s a debut, so it’s not a surprise that the writing maybe wasn’t as streamlined as it could’ve been, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I’d still recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA thrillers and/or video games.

Ooooh, there’s one little fun comparison I noticed that I wanted to point out. Obviously, Asha enters a video game competition to infiltrate what she thinks is an evil organisation. And the trial level they played was a Mayan temple. It gave me flashbacks to Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz. In that book, Alex plays a Mayan-inspired video game at an event to investigate an evil tech magnate. The books themselves are completely different, and I’m making this comparison affectionately, but it was definitely something that I couldn’t help but giggle over.

I’m very excited about this sequel to this book and can’t believe I’ll likely have to wait for 2024 to get to it. Sighhhh.

4/5 Stars

P.S: Can’t wait to get a copy of this book? Check out the website and register your interest. If you can solve a cypher, you’ll be in with the chance of winning a proof!

Title: A Game of Life or Death

Author: Triona Campbell

Genre: Thriller

Age Range:  Young Adult

Publisher:  Scholastic

Release Date: 2/2/23


Amazon UK | Waterstones | Bookshop Org

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