I was given a copy of V Games by Caroline Peckham in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly…the story arc is refreshing and NEW. While the idea behind the games is clearly based on the Hunger Games, the entire scenario regarding contestants, planners, and workers is brand new. In a nutshell: Contemporary Hunters have become bored, so instead of just hunting vampires, they are capturing them and torturing them. They kidnap girls from prisons (as current info-media disallows them just snatching off the streets–how long have they been having these games, anyway?) to participate in the V Games. It is a survival challenge where girls are sent out to brave the elements on an island as well as the vampires that hunt them. The winner supposedly gets to go home with a clean record. With so many dystopian and vampire novels out there, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. I was pleasantly surprised by the execution of this story.
There were minor misuse of homophones in the book that stood out, but weren’t so jarring I felt I couldn’t continue. I’m a rather fast reader, so when I hit them, it was similar to hitting a speed bump a bit faster than you should–startling, but nothing to stop for. Ex: “A murmur of ascent went up.” (p. 58). The proper word here is ‘assent’. Another example: “I didn’t want to admit that that was why I was holding up here a little longer than I should have.” This one COULD be correct, but my mind wanted her to say “holing up” (as in hole up or hide). Nothing terrible and drastic.
The development between the MC and the possible love interest actually makes sense. My biggest issue with PNR is the tendency to explain away intense attraction/moving the relationship forward quickly with FATE. I don’t know how many times I’ve read something and the relationship between characters goes from meeting to having sex in pages because of “fate”. Peckham does not do this. There is a ‘supernatural’ pull between characters, but because they are reasoning and thinking beings, they do what reasoning and thinking beings do and FIGHT that. They don’t understand it so they react as most would and try to ignore the weirdo draw. That doesn’t mean they hate each other or don’t develop a relationship. They do, and neither one can really explain it, but it still fits within the parameters of reasoning beings. I LOVE this. I LOVE that the circumstances they are in are not ignored in favor of the cheap thrill and that the one time they DO give in to something, the danger becomes apparent.
The dialogue between characters is easy and natural. Often, I get bogged down in conversations written by new authors because they feel stilted and unnatural. One of my favorite series ever got there because the banter was so easy and flowed naturally. Peckham manages to do this as well. I can see and hear the conversations in my head and they don’t sound scripted. They sound like things people would really say.
I do have some complaints. I wish the role and history of the Hunters were better explained. They’re sort of these off-screen catalyst characters that don’t seem very fleshed out. There are vague references to what they do to the vampires now, to the fact that they’re torturing humans, too. But where many of the characters feel real and three dimensional, the Hunters are fairly flat. The bidders are also kind of blurred. This doesn’t seem to be as big a deal, except for a few. Ulvic falls into the same realm as the Hunters, which makes me wonder if Peckham didn’t do this by design. He’s just clear enough to get a snapshot, but not clear enough to be real.
Overall, this was a well-executed novel that definitely is on my list for the next in the series. I want to know what happens to Selena and Varick. I want to see how Varick’s past ties into the two of them. I want to see the good-guys-turned-monsters beaten/exposed. I highly recommend this for readers who can handle a bit of blood and gore in their fiction (descriptions of death are not overdone, but neither does Peckham brush over them).
Click the link below to pre-order, releasing October 30