The Game of Sunken Places is a fantasy/sci-fi adventure for YA/middlegrade readers, written by M. T. Anderson.
Brian and Gregory have been best friend's since they were eight, though people puzzle at why. Gregory's outgoing, gregarious personality and near constant wisecracks don't mirror him to the quieter, contemplative, sometimes shy Brian. But nobody's speculations have ever come close to tearing them apart.
When Gregory's uncle sends an invitation to spend time at his mansion and bring a "companion," Gregory instantly thinks this will be a great way to make their thirteenth year an adventure.
The adventure they were expecting is not the one they get. Gregory's uncle drives a horse-driven buggy and wears clothes from a different century. The butler asks strange questions, such as if the boys' clothes would give off a poisonous chemical if burned. And there's a game with a well-drawn version of the mansion and grounds on it in the attic that changes and expands, inexplicably. It's called The Game of Sunken Places.
Evidence seems to be pointing to Brian and Gregory being part of this game - an interactive game - and it's sure not Monopoly. This one includes real-life trolls, kingdoms from other worlds, the solving of annoyingly complicated riddles and the forcing of them wearing uncomfortably starched britches.
And someone is going to need to win.
First off - I really love the old-fashioned looking cover. It matches extremely well with the contents of The Game of Sunken Places and the tone it gives off. M. T. Anderson has won the National Book Award for good reason - The Game of Sunken Places was a pure joy to read. It mixes silly, outrageous, funny situations, oddball characters (under which category you can even include the admittedly more grounded but still delightfully eccentric Brian and Gregory) and elements of a mystery novel, as well as a sci-fi/fantasy.
Personally, I found The Game of Sunken Places to be thoroughly entertaining, hilarious, original, and... fun!!! What's fantastic about this book is how it is should be so easily enjoyed by truly any age group that loves an excellently written story. A story that manages to be creepy, enigmatic, laugh-out-loud funny, and truly unexpected!
The characters are dynamically drawn and easy to like, and the surprising twists and classic-like quality of the novel give it a unique appeal. I really, really liked it!!!
Now, this is saying something. Because when I was reading this particular title, I was rather exhausted. It was one of those work weeks when you seem to never get enough sleep, and kind of zombie your way through the day - you know those, right? Well, I'll admit that my sleepiness got me a bit confused on the plot sometimes, but the bright, sunshiny-ness of the personalities, plots, and landscapes kept me interested and happy the whole way through. And once I woke up fully, I figured out what was happening (along with Brian and Gregory), and liked it all the more.
Plus, this Scholastic paperback version has After Words - extras in the back of the book. These extras include many things, and one of my favorites are the excerpts from The Lives, Illustrious Deeds, and Lamentable Deaths of the Emperors of Norumbega (sounds like gibberish right now, doesn't it? Read the book!). It features Anderson's awesome zany humor and gives more details of this lost civilization, making me all the more ready for the second book in what will be a quartet!
The Game of Sunken Places in a smart and clever fusion of genres that you should not miss!!!