The Games by Ted Kosmatka (book review)

Lately I read a book (or more correctly, a book on CD) called The Games by Ted Kosmatka

Short version: Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games.  In a dystopic future where advanced in genetic manipulation have been reached, the various countries of the world have added a new event to the Olympics–a gladiator death match featured engineered creatures whose only rule is “no human DNA.”  Facing their first loss since the beginning of the games, the Olympic Committee of the US decides to forego its usual practice of designing custom DNA and instead ask the greatest supercomputer in existence (built and controlled by an autistic savant) to create the DNA code instead.  The creature, superior to any previous design and part of a greater secretive plan by the computer and its creator, of course escapes and wrecks havoc.

So, what are the plot holes of this book?

  1. Why would the ability to create whole new cross-phylum species of creatures (and the millions of dollars necessary to do it) we wasted on a creature that would die for little purpose in a deathmatch?
  2. Are we to believe that American culture, which has little stomach for cockfighting or dogfighting, would overwhelmingly support an Olympic match involving creatures killing each other?
  3. Or that such an event would feature no sensible security measures in the case of a creature getting loose?  Even zoos have guards.
  4. And how on earth can Olympic testers be able to detect “human DNA”?  Primate DNA is overwhelmingly similar to our own, and primate hybrids are shown in the games)
  5. After a big buildup about how bizarre the US gladiator is, how people are horrified and entranced by it, in its actual description its a jet-black humanoid with bat wings on its back, bat-like ears, and large, gray eyes.  It’s only halfway through the book that a truly minor character notes to himself that the creature looks like the devil.  But honestly, that’s what’s so scary?  There are croco-tigers and kangaroos with six inch claws in the games, but a big black creature looking like the monster from “Fantasia” is supposed to take the cake.
Because this guy is the terror of DC Comics.

Plot–predictable and almost dripping with foreshadowing (Hey, the main character likes archery!  Think that’ll matter later?)  The main characters come across as people that most individuals, if they met them in real life, wouldn’t really like very much.

And the ending?  Oy.  Pointless swerve, followed by underwhelming climax.  Even my son, when he heard about how the monster was eventually dealt with, said, “that’s it?”

What’s funny is that one of the dust jacket blurbs said, “it’s obviously destined for the big screen,” which is funny, because it is likely true.  Not because it is all that great, but because it is so painfully derivative and filled with low-brow pseudo-science that some producer will think it’s a winner.

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