Review Blog

Aug 19 2016

Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg

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Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760290153
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Mystery. Thriller. Kidnapping. Jamie loves numbers and one day gives his sister Summerlee a group of numbers that wins her $7.5 million in the lottery. But things do not go well in Jamie's family especially when his little sister Phoebe is kidnapped and a ransom request for $2 million follows. Jamie is convinced that he can save her using the principles of Game Theory, but is he playing with her life?
The family dynamics are a feature of this book and provide a stunning background to the events that take place. Jamie is very good at maths and is obsessed with the Game Theory, so much so that he is prepared to take risks on his beliefs about it. Readers will enjoy finding out about it and will be rather horrified that he is arrogant enough to believe that he can fool the kidnapper. Jamie's relationship with his little sister Phoebe is touching, and rebellious Summerlee also loves Phoebe and is prepared to do whatever she can to get her back. Phoebe may not be as intelligent as Jamie but she understands people really well and this leads to surprising results as the novel comes to a climax.
Moments of humour lift the dark material of the book. The episode when Jamie goes to buy a gun from a biker although very tense is also very funny and would be hilarious if read out loud. The episode when Summerlee is fired from her job is also hilarious and will be enjoyed by the reader.
An exciting and tense thriller, Jonsberg keeps the suspense going throughout the whole book. It is not easy to guess who the kidnapper is and the conclusion is really unexpected and very nerve-wracking. This is one for lovers of thrillers and could be used as a literature circle book or class set for older teens. Teacher's notes are available from the publisher's website.
Pat Pledger

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