The Dying Game, by Asa Avdic
Translator: Rachel Willson-Broyles
Published by Windmill Books, 2nd November 2017
Genres: Thriller, mystery, dystopia
Source: Purchased (second-hand)
Trigger warnings: drug abuse, suicide attempts
The year is 2037 and the world is very different from today. There has been a second Cold War and Europe is divided into Protectorates, presumably controlled by the USSR. In the Protectorate of Sweden, seven people have been selected as applicants for a top-secret intelligence position. They are gathered on the remote island of Isola for a 48-hour test as the first step in the recruitment process.
Among them is Anna Francis, deeply troubled by her experiences in the warzone at the border of Turkmenistan. Her role in the test is simple: she is to play dead. The plan is to stage her own murder and then retreat to a secret underground room and observe the other participants as they deal with this crisis. But something is not quite right on the island and, as a storm blows in, cutting off the electricity and contact with the mainland, things start to get out of hand.
This is such an interesting dystopian thriller! I really enjoyed it and read it through in one sitting. The mystery was too much and I just needed answers. Although engaging, I did find it a little slow to get going.
The setting is really interesting with this dystopian future where the USSR seems to have taken over Europe and everyone lives in very harsh conditions. There is an undercurrent of threat and secrecy which really lends itself to the mystery.
The locked room style mystery was very engaging and it gives the reader plenty to try and figure out. Who is really a candidate for the top-secret position with an unnamed organization? Who else is in on the secret that Anna is not really dead? What is this secret which hangs over Anne from her past?
I also really enjoyed the shifting perspectives, especially at the end. The various characters are being interrogated about the events on the island and it was interesting to see each person’s different perspective.
This was one of my picks for my Reading Women Challenge, for the prompt “a crime novel or thriller in translation”. I have really been enjoying widening my reading horizons so far this year and I may now try out some more dystopian thrillers.
My rating: 4/5