Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – ARC Review

middlegame by seanan mcguire.jpgSummary:

Publication Date: 5/7/19

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Review: 4 Stars

Middlegame is the first book that I’ve read by Seanan McGuire and I finally understand what I’ve been missing out on all this time. Seanan McGuire is an amazing storyteller and Middlegame was a great read. I am so glad that I gave Middlegame a chance, because I had pretty low expectations and this book wound up being pretty great. Middlegame is a fantasy that focuses on a brother-sister relationship and even though it was over 500 pages long I never got bored.

This has never been about good and evil. This is about power. Who has it, who doesn’t. Who knows how to use it.

The idea behind the novel was pretty interesting. Two siblings were created to embody the knowledge of the world, one through math and the other though language. The author also incorporates a children’s fantasy book into the world that is supposed to help guide the siblings to reach “The Impossible City”. The constant comparison of the real world to a children’s fantasy book was really interesting, but lead me to expect the beauty and rich fantasy of that story to be incorporated into the real world, but the book remained much more realistic and I was pretty disappointed in that aspect.

“Someone made us. Someone made us, and then they separated us because we were dangerous when we were together.”

The book is told in third person omniscient narration, which was especially interesting during conversations because as a reader you get insight on both characters. The narration mainly focused on a few main characters, one of which is Reed, who is a mad scientist and the villain of this story. I hated reading the chapters that focused on him as they felt impersonal and there was only so much egotistical mad scientist narrative that I could take. These chapters disrupted the flow of the novel for me as they felt so clinical in comparison to the rest of the book that was otherwise so human and rich. I understand that Reed was supposed to be lacking in some emotions, but as a villain he fell kind of flat for me.

In that moment, Roger is sure– absolutely certain– of two things: Dodger is real, and he wants her to be his friend.

The relationship between Rodger and Dodger is what made this book shine. I loved watching their friendship grow throughout their lives and I absolutely adored these characters. I favored Dodger over Rodger as she looked at the world as a thing to manipulate to her favor. Dodger was more social and friendly, but Rodger was more interesting to me. As far as the characterization of these two siblings the book gets five stars from me, but there were many other areas that I found to be disappointing.

She’d approached the issue of social interaction like it was another puzzle to  be solved, another prize to be won.

The pacing was a bit too slow, even in high action scenes. This book was lacking in tension and fell a bit emotionally flat. The main characters were amazing and the idea behind the book was interesting, but I feel like the plot needed more work. I didn’t feel like the story was complete, even though it is a 500 page stand alone. I felt like it was 500 pages of character development and it needed more plot movement and better pacing. I did really enjoy it, but I felt like it missed the mark a little bit. After reading Middlegame I am really interested to check out some of Seanan McGuire’s other books.

Magic doesn’t have to be flashy and huge. Sometimes it’s the subtle things that are the most effective of all.

13 thoughts on “Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – ARC Review

Add yours

    1. The characters were amazing! The pacing could have used to be better. I really wanted the fantasy aspects of the children’s book to appear in the story, that part of the book was so interesting. The up and under and everything! I wanted it to be less realistic, but it was cool the way it was. Kind of a cross between fantasy and sci-fi.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes i read the wayward children series, which I absolutely love! And I own the first book in the October Daye series, but haven’t read it yet

        Liked by 1 person

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