The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord
Published January 6th, 2015 by Del Rey*
My rating: The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed.
The Galaxy Game did not live up to the expectations raised by my first Karen Lord book, The Best of All Possible Worlds. While the latter encompassed a patchwork of cultures and peoples that together revealed a complex and diverse planetary society, the composition of the former felt scattered, inconsistent, and incomplete. I loved The Best of All Possible Worlds, the first in this loosely connected series (the first features the aunt of the main character in The Galaxy Game), and really could not wait to read this one.
Overall, it was disjointed and confusing. The main character, Rafi, is a young man, about fourteen,with empathic/telepathic abilities. His abilities bring him to the dangerous attention of the government on a world that disapproves of such abilities. The plot takes him from his school to his aunt’s home and on to two other planets. His friend joins him for part of his journey, navigating the tricky waters of a foreign society.
The universe, hinted at in the first book, is expanded in this one – but never cohesively. Each of the three planets that make up the setting of this book had distinct characteristics but were difficult to remember. Much of the action occurs on the second planet, home to a people of complex society with social and financial debt and credit systems and strict relationship and networking customs and rules. The society itself was never fully brought to life, which made it difficult to understand. Only a few barely sketched-in characters give any idea of how natives behave, think, and speak.