August 01, 2013

Rush: The Game, Book 1


by Eve Silver
Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins
978-0-06219213-4 (hc)
978-0-06219216-5 (ebook) 
364 pp.
Ages 13-17
June, 2013
Reviewed from Harper Audio version


Just before she dashes in front of a truck to save a deaf little girl in the road, teen Miki Jones is sure she hears someone call her name.  And it isn't Luka, the boy on the track who her group is watching, who rushes to save Miki.  But when she awakens, wondering if she's alive or dead, in heaven or somewhere else, Miki is introduced to the young man with that voice, Jackson Tate.  Unfortunately, he doesn't answer a lot of her questions, taking her healed self to the lobby, a clearing with large boulders where she meets their other team members: Luka; a red-haired cheerleader Rochelle; and Tyrone, a young man in his 20's.  Here Miki is told the basics of the game, as Luka calls it, in which members of their team have been "pulled" from real life, initially by apparent death, through time and space to complete missions against aliens known as the Drau.  If they are successful in eliminating the Drau wherever they've been sent, and have survived, as indicated by the colours of their wristbands, they are respawned and returned to their lives as if no time has passed.  

It's a steep learning curve for Miki who learns the rules of the game; how to gear up with weaponry; to avoid looking into the mercury-like eyes of the Drau; and how to fight.  Luckily Miki has two things in her favour: she is proficient in the martial art of kendo, and Jackson is always watching out for her.  In fact, upon her respawn, Miki discovers that Jackson is a new student at her high school, which is lucky because she has a lot of questions and confusion and Luka is apprehensive about talking about it outside the game. Unfortunately, her best friend Carly sees Miki as interested in both Luka and Jackson, and her uninformed perception puts their friendship in jeopardy.  

It hardly seems fair that Miki, who is already struggling with her mother's death from lung cancer and her father's consequent alcoholism and denial, should be plunged into an alternate world to fight aliens who want to take over all of humanity.  But, it doesn't seem like she has any choice, learning that both she and Jackson have ancestors who fought the Drau and it is in their genetic memory to do the same.  This exceptionality serves to help them anticipate attacks by sensing the Drau, but may also be their doom.  With escalating raids by the Drau, and Jackson's role in Miki's summoning to the community, the bond that has grown between the two seems destined to be challenged. 

Just as there seems to be little time for Miki to become acclimatized to her new reality between missions, young readers will find it difficult to rest and synthesize the ever-changing circumstances of Miki's life.  Rush is definitely a thriller, akin to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, with a strong female protagonist who is thrown into a difficult situation and must continue to think on her feet if she is to stay alive.  Just as gamers might recognize commonalities between their games and Rush's storyline, circumstances change randomly and sometimes irrevocably, and all you can do is play along. Eve Silver has ensured that Miki continues to learn as she plays and to take it all in stride, even if it is evident she hates playing the game but will, if only for the sake of her father.

On her website, www.evesilver.net, Eve Silver reassuringly indicates Books 2 and 3, named Push and Crash respectively, are slotted for release in 2014 and 2015.  Thank goodness, because Rush's conclusion is vexing and one that readers will demand be resolved favourably.  You know what I mean, Eve Silver, right? All others will need to read Rush to make sense of this.   

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I've posted the book trailer for Rush uploaded by Eve Silver to YouTube on June 7, 2013.

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