Verdict: While the dystopian thriller NUMBERS GAME is sometimes a little simplistic, it is nevertheless a solid and enjoyable read.
Imagine a nation in which every citizen’s net societal worth can be boiled down to a single rating – one that is forever tattooed on their forehead for all to see. Now imagine what would happen if the system that awarded those ratings was broken – perhaps even corrupt. That’s the premise of NUMBERS GAME, a dystopian thriller by Rebecca Rode.
The protagonist on whose shoulder we sit for the majority of NUMBERS GAME is an inoffensively dull young woman named Ametrine Dowell. Ametrine has spent pretty much her entire life thus far playing up to the system: she’s worked and studied hard, participated in extra-curricular activities, steered clear of controversy, and generally strived to be the kind of good little citizen that overarching governmental systems of control tend to reward. She is then, understandably, rather put out when her Ratings Day arrives, and she is awarded a measly four hundred and forty – the kind of low ranking usually given to criminals, low-lifes and serial killers.
What to do about this tragic ranking? A chance encounter opens up the possibility of salvation for Ametrine. Undertake a mysterious and dangerous covert mission, she’s told, and she might just be able to rescue her place on the leader boards. For someone who aspired to a lofty rating in the region of nine-hundred, it’s not a hard decision to make. Soon enough we’ve been launched into a fast-paced thrill-ride through the behind-the-scenes areas of Ametrine’s dystopian society.
While the concept of people being awarded numerical ratings is hardly a novel one, it’s handed well enough. We’re treated to occasional glimpses of the wider society in which the story takes place, and it always feels real, three-dimensional and credible in nature. The plot is action-packed and, after a slow start, never lingers too long in one place. The characters are a little flat, but they do the job well enough – and by the end you’ll likely even care about Ametrine, despite her vacuum of a personality. What I’m getting at here is that, while NUMBERS GAME is sometimes a little simplistic, it is nevertheless a solid and enjoyable read.
If you’re a fan of dystopian thrillers this novel was likely written with exactly you in mind. It has all the mandatory ingredients of a classic of the genre, from a uncertain romance to a government conspiracy to a series of increasingly wild action sequences. It’s un-taxing, easy-to-read, and competently put together. If you liked The Hunger Games and are looking for something in a similar vein, you could do a lot worse than picking up NUMBERS GAME.
~Krishan Coupland for IndieReader