The Divers' Game
A pair of girls, Lethe and Lois, navigates the perimeters of a segregated city, armed with canisters of killing gas. Another child, Lessen, is at the centre of a bizarre cultural ritual that could be the subject of a Goya painting.
Centring on the garish festivals of an allegorical nation, The Divers' Game moves through worlds in which kindness is no longer meaningful. A scathing indictmentpainting.Centring ...more
Reasoning: No sexual abuse, no heavy use of…moreI would give this book to a precocious thirteen year old, but I am lenient about this sort of thing.
Reasoning: No sexual abuse, no heavy use of profanity, but the book features some physical abuse. The descriptions of physical abuse aren't grisly, but they are emotionally wrenching. **SPOILER** The last chapter is a suicide note from a wife to her husband, in which she expresses her deep regret for murdering one of the society's second-class citizens. She discusses some of the details of the murder. **END OF SPOILER**
The gravity of the content is to be expected, given the seriousness of the book's subject: how one group of people can go about dehumanizing and torturing another group of people without feeling empathy or guilt.
The novel comprises four short set pieces — s ...more
It's a world that lacks compassion and empathy, where language has been redefined so that the culture can embrace violence while still calling itself non-violent, where fear and insult are common cu ...more
Imagine a society with a refugee crisis. Then imagine a society that responds to that refugee crisis not by rejecting the refugees but by allowing them to stay as long as they are physically marked so that everyone knows who belongs and who does not. Imagine then that these “others” in society are stigmatised and often subject to viol ...more
It looks like it’s about a very violent society that pretends it isn’t violent at all.
It smells like licorice left in a hole.
Source: A hyena who searched Jesse Ball's house in 2018 and found the draft of this novel
“What kind of suicide is it to kill in the world what you find in yourself?”
Dive down. You just dive down and find the hole, then it starts. I mean you crawl. For one pond to the other. The divers’ game.
the part where you pull yourself into the hole is the worst. Because from there you just have to go on. You have to trust that the tunnel’s the same [as it was last time]
This book tends to be reviewed as set in a near-future dystopia, one which imagines a societal approach to mass immigration (and to undesirables) that seems only a logical extension of current trends ...more
There are a lot of ways to mess up a dystopian novel, but it turns o ...more
Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the ARC.
The Lois/Lethe storyline grabbed me - there was more world building in this section, and I loved the section in the zoo - but it was over way too soon and unfortunately the other three stories failed to hold my interest, being a bit vague for my liking. If you're a fan of dystopia and this sounds up your street then I think it's worth ...more
Certainly these dark and unsettling times have informed this dystopian novel, in which the world is divided into two groups: quads and pats. The pats are the privileged country natives and the quads ...more
"Dystopian stories are, in essence, thought experiments. And few come as thoughtful as The Divers' Game.
The latest novel from acclaimed author Jesse Ball depicts a world both unimaginably unjust and all too believably cruel: Society has been split into two distinct halves, the pats and the quads, with the former group given unchecked supremacy over the second. It isn't the most original premise in dystopian fiction, but Ball cl ...more
No crying this time around, just a lot of chills and breathless page turning. Ball created such a fully formed dystopian setting, rife with conflict. His young characters, many of which find themselves embroiled in the most horrific snares of the book, offer up gut punch after gut punch until the final devastating section; an ending that had me wanting to go back into the fray all ov ...more
Jesse Ball may be one of the most important writers of the day and proves it with this short but fascinating novel. What if compassion wasn't inherent to the human experience? A horrible thought but it forces the reader to look inward and analyze all while thoroughly engrossed in ...more
Jesse Ball creates a fascinating dystopian world and allows us to see it through the eyes of young people. Their perspective on violence and other societal horrors prove to be cavalier at times, as this is the only way of life they’ve ever known. Sharp and dark.
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Jesse Ball’s work has been described as “genius” by the late Alan Cheuse in the pages of this very publication, and over the course of his abundantly productive career to date, he has built up an ardent following among fans and critics. Winner of the 2008 Paris Review George Plimpton Prize, Ball was a both a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lion Prize and long listed for the National Book Award for fiction in 2015, and wa ...more
Speculative fiction has been used as a vehicle to comment on societal woes for about as long as there has been speculative fiction. In the right hands, the flexibility of genre opens up a tremendous literary toolbox, one that offers a combination of wildly vivid creations and complex cultural commentary.
Hands like Jesse Ball's.
Ball’s latest novel is “The Divers' Game.” It’s a story of a society not so unlike our own, one extrapolated out from our current place in ...more