The Games by Ted Kosmatka

The Games © 2012 Ted Kosmatka, Ballantine/Del Ray

In the near future the Olympics includes a gladiator-type tournament where the participants are creatures genetically engineered for the kill.  The only rule is no human DNA.  The U.S. has been dominating these games, and in the latest Olympic go-round we outdo ourselves with a bad-ass creature designed completely by computer.  The problem is the super-computer that designed the creature has become sentient and has its own evil agenda, which the gladiator creature tries to carry out. 

The story is principally about Silas Williams, the geneticist overseeing the U.S. gladiator program, who is the first to realize there’s something especially dangerous about this gladiator.  His warning falls on corporate greed’s deaf ears and mayhem results.  Ultimately, it is Silas vs. the gladiator with a little help to Silas from the sentient computer.  This was the part of the book I struggled with—why the evil computer suddenly decided to help out.  There was no apparent reason.

But The Games offers a unique monster founded—as all good monsters are—on human failing.  Kosmatka builds suspense through most of the book with the pending competition.  The reader is anxious to see (with a little national pride, if you’re American) how the creature will fare and just what exactly will go wrong.  The parallel story about the sentient computer wasn’t as strong.  We didn’t get to know the computer well enough early on in the story to appreciate it as a villain.

For the most part, though, The Games was a very well written and engaging sci-fi thriller.  I’m proud to keep it on my shelf.      

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