Title: Invitation to the Game
Author: Monica Hughes
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse, 1993
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: School Library
Date Read: Fall 2009
Post-graduation and facing a crumbling economy with no job prospects, the only hope is to receive an elite invitation to The Game. The Game is some kind of a test, and the government pays well for anyone they select to participate in the process. When Lisse and her friends are chosen, they suddenly enter a virtual world that tests them in ways that excite and intrigue. But why are they playing the game and what happens if someone actually finishes the final level?
Here’s who will like this book: actual middle school kids. Not the ones who read chunky novels on the daily and believe librarians really are superheroes, but all the rest of middle school kids.
Here’s who won’t like this book: adults. Especially any adult who has read and loved Ender’s Game.
Y’all, we’ve been spoiled by dystopia. I’ve been a fan of the genre since I first learned the word in 2006 (I’m a dystopian hipster, loving the genre before it was cool). I read Invitation to the Game just before reading The Hunger Games for the first time, before completely wearing myself out on crumbling, futuristic worlds and the idealistic kids chosen to “save society” from corrupt governments.
To adults, this is just a dystopian novel that pales in comparison to its counterparts. It’s underdeveloped. Too short. The ending is abrupt. But for kids, this is actually a great introduction to dystopian worlds. It’s short, it gets to the point fairly quickly, it’s got a twist at the end that they won’t see coming, and it’s fast-paced. There are no lengthy descriptions, no attempts at bucking gender stereotypes, and no set-ups for trilogies. A true middle grades novel for the average middle grade kid.
FINAL GRADE: B I can’t give it an A due to the flaws mentioned above, but I liked it. Of course, I like all dystopian novels and have an extreme bias toward the genre. In case you haven’t noticed. This was one of our North Carolina Battle of the Books picks in years past, so someone in our state has determined that it has some literary merit. I’m inclined to agree.
Have you read Invitation to the Game? Recently or back in 1993? How do you think time has affected the enjoyment of this novel?