Thursday, December 25, 2014

Review: The Games

I got sucked into the audio version of The Games by Ted Kosmatka, and found myself trying to listen to it whenever I could. I rented the book with zero background information, and quickly realized that it was going to be a Sci-Fi action adventure book, a genre I tend to enjoy.

Kosmatka's view of the not so distant view future was pleasant enough. I got a kick out of the notion that marriage 'expires' after 3 years, unless the partners take steps to renew it for life. I found myself accepting the premise that genetic engineering had greatly advanced to the point where genetic therapies were as common, as say, antibiotics are today. At the core of the book is a new competition in the Olympic Games: each country devises its own genetically modified organism, which then fights to the death (known as gladiators). Oh, and there's a super computer throw into the story for good measure.

This of course opens to the door to interesting discussions about what constitutes life and the ethics behind genetic engineering. Kosmatka's greatest feat may be his ability to create a thoughtful character who argues for the barbaric gladiator event, not against it.

I found it harder to suspend belief on the more mundane aspects of the book. In the future, for example, stadium security at world's mostly watched and protested event will have effectively zero armed police presence. And it will be possible for two adults to be found without a flashlight (not hard you think; but then you remember that every person carrying a cell phone is also carrying a flashlight).

In the end, the book wins because it was entertaining and had a nice dollop of thought provoking material to go with it. I'd give it a 7.5 out of 10.

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