Just read! Thoughts on The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay

CAUTION! Beware of possible spoilers ahead, my fellow readers! 

“At first, I was, like, ‘How is this twist even possible!?’ But then I looked back and saw all the clues and realized that everything made complete sense, and I had just been fooled by all the red herrings…”

After finishing the thrilling ride that is The Assassin Game, I was pretty much left speechless. I was hooked, felt complete trust for the author, and loved the story from beginning to end. This young adult fiction is about your normal girl-next-door Cate who is sent to an isolated boarding school in the middle of the Irish sea — what’s more, the school is a used-to-be mental asylum now set up for gifted kids! Umfraville Hall encourages arts as well as academics; the school is elaborately designed with study rooms, censored Intranet for students’ convenience, a Main House for meals and dorming, and so much more! Basically, my dream school. Not only that, but the ominous setting allows the perfect atmosphere for an exciting, secret Assassin Guild. Nothing harmful, of course, just pranks and teenagers feeling the rush of adrenaline! … Until a real Killer goes rogue.

As a third year in high school, it was pretty easy for me to put myself in Cate’s shoes — she and the others are all just around the same age as me. (Though I feel that Cate was a bit more courageous than I would have been in her situation, which I appreciate!) For me, she was a lovable MC who was willing to take matters into her own hands and always defended what she believed in. She’s witty, funny, and self-aware — all while still bearing her own flaws that make her so relatable (*COUGH* being a loner, just like me!). The other characters are all distinct as well; I could picture their personalities vividly each time, which was eternally helpful given the mystery aspect.

Oh, the mystery. So. Many. Red. Herrings! At one point, I even thought that Cate’s teacher, Mr. Flynn, might have been the Killer just because she threw the thought out there. Yeah, that happened a lot…

SPOILER WARNING! I cannot believe I fell for the biggest distraction of all: Daniel. I loved him, I really did. He’s pretty much my ideal boyfriend, actually. Reserved but assertive when necessary, serious but witty and funny once comfortable, gets a kick out of anime, musically gifted — the total package. (He’s more my type than Cate’s, haha.) But with all that… shtuff going on between him and Cate, it was all just so suspicious! I even yelled at Cate for not seeing it earlier. It was so obvious! Who else would be watching her but the lovestruck boy she never noticed or acknowledged? Maybe he had gone off the rails due to his past trauma of being bullied, and now, with a backstab from a close friend, he couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe, maybe…

Ah, but alas. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I hate myself for even suspecting him, and for not believing him when he said he’d never hurt her… The poor thing deserves more than this. I hope he gets the love he deserves in America.

What else? The ending! I felt that the story kind of ended as quickly as it began. It made me a bit sad, but then I thought: a possible sequel…? Oh, but that’s just wishful thinking, of course. I may have missed it (just like with the whole Skulk thing), but what happened with Marcia? Was she in on it the whole time with Killer 2, or did she only find out after everything was resolved? I can’t really picture her being so deceiving as to try and hurt Cate, but as they say, love makes you blind… and she was the one who made the cupcakes. That Killer 2 poisoned. She was always conveniently with him, which kind-of-really irks me. Was he just using her? Or did they both plan all of this from the beginning? I. Need. Answers!

And… was Killer 2 the one who wrote all those creepy messages? (I know that’s probably obvious, but hey.) Why was the Killer card in Daniel’s violin case, anyhow?

Well, anyway. It was a fantastic adventure nonetheless, and the addition of Crypt, their own little social media platform built specifically for The Game, took it to whole new levels. The tracking, the theories behind the usernames, the suspense and thrill of hiding the site from Non-Guild… the whole thing with Vaughan, not knowing who it might have been behind the screen, who was watching and when… I absolutely adored all of it. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a game like this at my school!

The twist. I honestly and truly did not expect it. I didn’t even take into consideration that he might have been the rogue Killer. I am an amateur, and I let my guard down. There were so many clues. I should have noticed, should have been able to put together the pieces, but I was way too distracted. But hey, it made for a shocking reveal at the end (at least for me), and I thoroughly enjoyed the build-up to the climax, as my doubts still kept me in suspense!

There were so many times (mostly cliffhangers at the end of chapters) where my jaw literally dropped, I was so invested in this book and these characters. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing for a student like me, but the danger and risk factor kept me constantly on the edge of my seat. Over 300 pages, but every chapter left me hungry for more. What a fantastically well-put together mystery! I sincerely hope there will be more — a sequel perhaps? I know it might be a lot to ask for, but I can’t seem to let go of these characters just yet… Anyway, I’m thankful for the wonderful journey The Assassin Game took me on. Highly recommend to anyone who likes Battle Royale type stories, with some young adult romance mixed in, of course. It’s a bit cliche, and I admit, probably predictable for some, but cliche is what I love. I love these traditional all-fun-and-games-until-the-game-is-threatened-to-be-shut-down-type books. So if that’s your cup of tea as well, then have at it!

R xx

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