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Game Control
Lionel Shriver
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Game Control

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  457 ratings  ·  64 reviews

Eleanor Merritt, a do-gooding American family-planning worker, was drawn to Kenya to improve the lot of the poor. Unnervingly, she finds herself falling in love with the beguiling Calvin Piper despite, or perhaps because of, his misanthropic theories about population control and the future of the human race. Surely, Calvin whispers seductively in Eleanor's ear, if the poo

Published (first published 1994)
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I've discovered that Lionel Shriver has a knack for picking out topics that I find interesting, and twisting them into amazing novels that I love and hate at the same time.

In her novel, "Game Control," Shriver's lead characters are a thirty-eight-year old woman who works with a family planning organization in Africa and a disgraced researcher of population control who is plotting ways to drastically alter the steep incline of growth in the Third World. The material presented is dense, with Shri
In my opinion this is not the best of Lionel Shriver's novels. The story is inventive but the it is difficult to warm to any of the characters or care about their fate. The basic premise of the novel and the theoretical underpinnng of the politics of population control is interesting but it is difficult to invest emotionally with the characters.
Hannah Wingfield
Lionel Shriver is one of my favourite authors – We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of my favourite books, and thoughts about So Much For That still linger closely months after I finished it – but sadly this is the first novel of hers that I’ve read and just didn’t like. I pondered over giving it three stars just because Lionel Shriver writes so well, but skilled phrasing alone wasn’t enough to rescue this book – if it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t have finished the book at all, and at time ...more
Game Control is the fifth novel by American author, Lionel Shriver. This novel is set in Kenya in the early 1990s and concerns demographics and AIDs. The main characters are a vengeful misanthrope, Calvin Piper, and a guilty do-gooder, Eleanor Merritt. Eleanor works for a Family Planning agency and encounters the charismatic Piper at various Aid conferences. Despite his provocative and controversial opinions about population control (eg allow infant mortality to increase by stopping vaccination) ...more
B the BookAddict
I think if this book had not been written by Lionel Shriver, I would have not continued after the first 50 pages or so. The statistics were really heavy and slow going but I will admit, very scary as well. I did wait patiently for the usual Shriver acerbic wit to appear but it was not really evident at all. A satire??? where an American demographer/population control expert veers off the rails and plots to solve the population problem in a very sinister manner. Shriver did spend 12 months living ...more
The writing is very intelligent, and the topic of global population and its effects (as well as how best to address the issue) is fascinating. But the plot fell apart about halfway through the book, after veering off into fantastical territory. I wasn't really sold on the characters, and didn't care much what happened to them in the end.

However, if you're reading this for a well-researched, incisive, and refreshingly politically incorrect discussion of population control, you won't be disappoint
Tina Siegel
God, I love Lionel Shriver! She tackles difficult, uncomfortable subjects honestly and head on and somehow manages to be sympathetic but not sentimental about it. I love how brave she is. I also adore that black, black humour of hers. I did find a few of the characters grating in this one, and the structure wasn't as solid as it could have been. I also found the ending hard to swallow. Otherwise, fantastic. Read it!
The first three chapters are really difficult to read. Firstly the topic is a difficult one to read about and secondly because her sentence construction is laborious. For example on page 36: "Quickly a bowl of pinto beans and corn kernels were delivered with tea, and Peter's mother asked if she would please stay for a meal, the preparations for which, the daughters scurrying, were already under way." After a while I got really irritated by ubiquitous use of commas where shorter sentences would w ...more
Unfortunately this book speaks to me a little too much.
I read it so you don't have to......selfless to the end.
Would the world — and, specifically, the Third World — be better off if poor people just disappeared?

Lionel Shriver, a North Carolina-born woman living in London, presents a grimly amusing, though-provoking, seriously frightening look at population control, AIDS in Africa, and wildly contradictory research centering around a man named Calvin Piper — who wants to kill two billion people (all over the social and political map) for the benefit of humanity — and the female family-planning worker, El
Kelly (TheWellReadRedhead)
Like many other readers, I was drawn to this book because I was so caught up in Shriver's writing after reading Kevin. However, this book is different in so many ways. The premise is interesting--population control experts create a grisly method of bringing down worldwide population numbers. Morality becomes relative, etc. etc. That's what made me pick it up in the first place.

Where I got lost was in the extreme research detail that Shriver uses at times. I was listening to the audiobook, and I
Do you enjoy long dialogue consisting of meticulously researched data on demography? Do you like it when dead people suddenly come alive, or do you believe in ghosts? How about complex relationships? If so, this book may be for you.

I am nearly through with this and I can say that I have mixed feelings. I love Lionel Shriver and will give anything she writes a go. I think I have Hallie to blame for this fixation, as she got me started with The Post-Birthday World, which is deeply affecting. I ca
Lionel Shriver is very good at saying the unsayable and Calvin Piper is the perfect mouthpiece. It is a story of of clashing ideals - save the world or kill the world, with Africa's poverty and post colonial legacy of ineffective government as a backdrop. Calvin Piper proposes significant population control (creating a pandemic to cull the very young & the old) and initially spars (before starting a flawed relationship ) with earnest birth control project worker Eleanor Merritt. Shriver puts ...more
The characters in this novel were deplorable. I thought I would relate to the main character- after all, she's an American family planning worker in East Africa, how could I not? However, she proved naive and idiotic, and did not grow through the novel. She was unbelievable, as was the arc of her nemesis-love interest. The denouement was utterly unconvincing.

This book was written in 1994, before family planning was firmly situated within a human rights framework and before HIV was transformed f
Another fascinating book by one of my very favorite authors, Lionel Shriver. All of her books explore the relationships between men and women, and typically have strong female characters. Yet all of her books also explore larger social issues. This novel, written quite a while ago, was only recently published in the U.S. (in 2007, I believe) because her publisher rejected it. The larger social issues it addresses -- population control and genocide -- are probably why her publisher didn't want to ...more
Eleanor Merritt is a family planning worker in Kenya, who falls in love with Calvin Piper, an intellectual and scientist with some controversial ideas about population control in the poor. The book is clearly well researched, examining the pros and cons of family planning, population control and the AIDS epidemic. Shriver manages to make an interesting storyline out of it - the love story is fortunately the backdrop for the majority of the book, rather than the foreground. Would have scored high ...more
Hayley Gullen
This was an intriguing concept for a book, and it engaged me, made me laugh and, mostly, was a page-turner. I really, really like Lionel Shriver, but sometimes I think she is slightly too clever. The dialogue doesn't feel realistic, even though the characters are highly educated, and the sentences are often long and verbose (this wasn't helped by the fact that the version I read was appallingly edited and riddled with typos). It's a funny book in places and I think it could be even funnier if it ...more
A bit disappointing -- I keep trying to get through everything that Lionel Shriver has written, but apart from We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post Birthday World (both of which I adored), I've been slightly let down. This book (similar to So Much For That) ended up being a diatribe. I felt like I was reading (or talking to) a political activist/extremist for most of it. I found myself just wishing that the preaching would stop. Repetitive? Um, yes. When she finally decided to wrap it up, sh ...more
I loved this book- so ironic and humorous in true shriver fashion. The characters were great
Interesting ideas, mediocre writing, annoying characters.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Yates
The premise of the book was interesting, and it seemed well-researched - I know aid workers can get jaded and cynical and that there are people who promote the theories in the book that seem so grim. I just couldn't stand the main characters - sign of a good writer I know, but I just got impatient with them about half way through and skipped to the end. Can't really give 3 stars to something I couldn't finish.
This was OK. I admire Shriver's ability to pull the reader into a specialised world, which she did well in this book as in Double Fault. The basic premise of this book was good and it raised some interesting questions about population/demography and motivations for working in the aid industry (if I can call it that) but for me, the characters didn't feel quite real. They almost felt like caricatures and I couldn't connect with them or their relationship. It wasn't bad in my opinion, just not gre ...more
Hazel McHaffie
Having disliked 'Double Fault' I felt I really out to give Lionel Shriver another chance. Surely someone who could create 'We Need to Talk about Kevin', had to be able to reel me in again. It's about population control and AIDS in Africa and I've just returned from North Africa so the timing was perfect. Sadly I struggled the whole way through this one. Only my obsessive need to complete a book once I've started kept me going. I'm not surprised that most of the hardback run was pulped.
Not much to like about this book. You can tell Shriver's a good writer, but that's about it. Hateful characters and dull story. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why Eleanor cared at all about Kelvin (Calvin? I listened to the audiobook, so I don't know spellings.), who was a horrible person, from his beliefs to the way he treated her. None of it made any sense. Terrible story and characters. I don't know why Shriver thought anyone would care at all.
I definitely liked this book, but it was clear that it was an earlier effort. Some of the things I loved most about her recent novels were not yet in place; the character development felt a little incomplete, and her command of the language was not quite as assured as I've seen it in other books. This was definitely an enjoyable read, and I liked the incorporation of population research. Overall, not my favorite by her, but well worth a read.
What is it about Ms. Shriver - she has a hard time writing likable characters. The main characters of this novel are so unlikable, so icky morally and otherwise, I'd like to put the book down.

But she keeps me because though she has a low opinion of the human race, she can sure write a brilliant paragraph. Whole books of them. I'll keep going until the whole sorry mess of a plot is done.
i wanted to check out lionel shriver's other books after loving "kevin" and this was one of her earlier books. it's about relief workers in africa gone mad. i wasn't in love with the book but it was a quick read. her bio at the end is one of the best i've read in a long time. she's funny and hip--and i think i'd enjoy any of her books just because her writing is too.
I liked this book a lot more than I expected. I despised Piper, but it wasn't suprising that he was all bluster. It's interesting how he and Eleanor changed each other and, eventually, each became better people as a resutl. I despised plot, but not them. They were each so vulnerable and looking for the same thing, love and acceptance.
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Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism h ...more
More about Lionel Shriver...
We Need to Talk About Kevin The Post-Birthday World Big Brother So Much for That Double Fault

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“Cynics are spoiled romantics. They are always the ones who had the highest expectations at the start. They were once so naïve themselves that they despise naïvety more than any other quality. Alchemists, they turn grief to gold. They take quinine in their tonic, Campari with their soda—bitterness is an acquired taste. Cynics have learned to drink poison and like it. They are resourceful people, though the sad thing is, they know what’s happened to them. They remember what they wanted to be when they grew up, and not a single one of them dreamt of becoming a cynic.” 2 likes
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