Reviews

These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much to WednesdayBooks and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call. But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did… As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

I think I am drawn to thrillers, despite finding so many that I simply do not love. And this one was no different. I had read All Your Twisted Secrets and enjoyed it, it had a plot twist I’d been waiting and wanting to see happen for forever, but I just didn’t love it. Despite this, I was still looking forward to Urban’s next book! A girl must keep her kidnapped sister alive by playing deadly games being sent to her via a mysterious app that has shown up on her phone. I was intrigued, and eager to see what this book would be all about. Trigger warnings: grief, blood

Holy heck, this book was good.

I felt breathless the entire way through. The anxiety and fear and panic were so well written and it’s twisty as heck. Even way that scenes are presented, how memories are presented, lend themselves to the twisty nature of this book. The very way it was crafted makes everything about this book more effective.

And the characters felt so real, and I think this is because the very essence of fear that runs through this book is so well written. Their actions rise in intensity, as they scramble to try and stay alive and deal with the fallout of the games being thrown out. Desperation seems to clog everything, and as it rises as more is breathed in, the stakes continue to get higher and higher. Just dang, the way this book is put together is amazing. The way that everything builds, everything getting more and more and more, until something cracks, and then it just continues to build. Just so, so good.

The characters also resort to desperate measure because of desperate situations. They are questionable, and I think that’s what made this book so good. They’re making choices because lives hang in the balance, and sometimes those choices are going to get messy. It made they whole book more intense, and it made me question whether I liked the characters, but it made the whole book stronger in the end.

AND THE FREAKING ENDING HOLY HECK. My jaw dropped. I absolutely loved it. It tied together so much, and it fit so, so well. It shocked me, but it is exactly what I would expect out of a certain character. It’s intense, like the rest of this book is, and just wow. There were a couple of things I was questioning before it completely ended, and those last couple of lines just sealed the deal. It ends on a smirk, and it was amazing.

It’s obvious by now, but I really did love the plot of this book. It was twisty and devious and extremely well thought. I was invested the entire time. There are so many secrets and so much running around. It’s fantastic.

I will say that I felt like some of the dialogue felt kind of cringey. It’s kind of like how actual teenagers talk, but also kind of not at the same time. I dunno, I just wasn’t the biggest fan of that aspect, but it could just be me!

Another thing that I didn’t quite love, but also could just be me, was one scene were the foreshadowing felt like it was a bit obvious. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but I felt like that scene was just a bit much

Overall, I love this book a whole lot. There’s a nerdiness and geekiness to it, a whole video game element! But it’s also dark and desperate and woven together in such a fantastic way. It’s twisty and brilliant and very, very good.

These Deadly Games comes out February 1, 2022! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!

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