Title: The Game of Love and Death
Author: Martha Breckenbrough
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Scholastic, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
Not since The Book Thief has the character of Death played such an original and affecting part in a book for young people.
Well, first off, they used The Book Thief. I was in when they said that. (As Zeke from Bob's Burgers would say, 'I just got a little tingle when you said that!') And then Love alongside Death? Yes, yes please!
Flora Saudade and Henry Thorne are complete opposites. One longs for flight, and for the freedom it promises--a reprieve from a life of hard work and hard times, grief and fear obvious in every step; the other longs for a place to belong, a poor boy tucked into a family of rich people, and for the magic that music brings. Brought together by forces neither of them can even imagine, the two of them realize that while love may cost them just about everything, it might just be worth it after all.
Where do I start with this book? As I said previously, they used The Book Thief, one of my favorite books of all time, for the marketing. I was already intrigued, but the curious, unique style that Breckenbrough brings to the table really did me in. Love and Death, fighting a game for ultimate supremacy, using humans as the pieces? Heck yes!
The writing of this book is gorgeous, exquisite, a literary feast for the imagination and the mind. From birth on, the story of Flora, and Henry, and their intertwining lives spins an intriguing, if unconventional, story. And then there's the players in the background: Death, cold, inevitable, terrifying, but secretly lonely and longing for a connection. And then there's Love, the permanent loser, tender and sensitive and sweet, but not above using his own tricks to affect the outcome of the deadly Game/
But what really sold this novel for me was the relationship between Flora and Henry: torn apart by all the differences and hatred of the world, but brought together by first love. There's Flora, who for love has reaped nothing but tragedy, and Henry, who doesn't really know what love is, but is certain that Flora is to be his for the rest of time. Their relationship, even in the developing stages, was painful to watch. But it was worth it--this book is a lovely, worthy chronicle to what terrible (and wonderful) trials love and death bring us all, and poses the question: Is giving up everything worth being with your soulmate? The bottom line: An achingly lovely, gorgeous tome, The Game of Love and Death is a more than worthy debut--an all time favorite of mine! I will be looking forward to more from Martha Breckenbrough! Next on deck: Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall!