Today, we're reviewing Push by Eve Silver. It's the second book in The Game series, and it's just as exhilarating as the first book.
Eve brings back familiar characters and introduces new ones, all of which lead to a conclusion that will have you guys begging for the third book. Seriously - read this now!
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
Miki Jones lives her life by her own strict set of rules, to keep control, to keep the gray fog of grief at bay. Then she’s pulled into the Game, where she—and her team—will die unless she follows a new set of rules: those set by the mysterious Committee.
But rules don’t mean answers, and without answers, it’s hard to trust. People are dying. The rules are unraveling. And Miki knows she’s being watched, uncertain if it’s the Drau or someone—something—else. Forced to make impossible choices and battling to save those she loves, Miki begins to see the Committee in a glaring new light.
And then the Game crosses a new boundary, pushes harder into Miki’s and her friends’ lives, and there’s nothing in the rules that can save them now.
Push is the sequel Rush fans will be screaming for.
Things that worked:
Mika's a little more seasoned this time around, and we see it in how she deals with the Game. She still dislikes aspects of it, but she handles her responsibilities and leadership of her team with the type of empathy and wisdom that I think any character (and any reader!) would want in their leader.
Silver does a great job of showing through Mika, how people can cope with challenging circumstances, even if it's something they would rather not deal with. There's an underlying lesson on working through adversity, which I think younger readers, parents and educators can all appreciate.
As for secondary characters, we get some more insight into Jackson this time around, and the results are tragic and eye-opening. We see just why he's willing to become the slightly aggressive daredevil that he is, and how his actions make sense in the larger context.
Silver proved in Rush, just how adept she was at writing an action-packed science fiction novel, and she proves it again in Push.
From the first page, she's unrelenting in the obstacles and challenges that she throws at our characters, while showing us just how these difficulties play into the larger picture of the Committee vs. the Drau, especially when the characters realize that the rules have now changed for the game.
However, Silver also thoughtfully recognizes the fact that these are teenagers are the end of the day, and balances out the pacing by including some downtown and contemplation of some very teenage-esque worries - e.g. Miki recognizing the fact that the more time she spends with Jackson and the Game, the more secrets she'll have to keep from her best friend.
Bottom line: Silver hits all of the right notes in making the book just as exciting as its predecessor, but also genuinely reflective of the teenaged experience.
While the world-building isn't perfect - more on this later - Silver does do a good job in showing how the Drau are becoming increasingly dangerous and the impact on our reality, and the increased risks that Miki and her team must take to stop them.
However, Silver makes it a point to balance the surreal nature of the Drau by delving more into Miki's world outside of the Game. We see how she now feels out of place in her ordinary suburb, and we also see how sometimes, it's not the most obvious threats in her life that become the most dangerous ones.
Even with everything that's going on, Silver makes it a point to show Miki and Jackson have begun to depend on each other, and why their relationship is important to each other, and to the events of the story.
It's pretty hard to form a relationship under such tough circumstances, but Miki and Jackson make it work. I still think that they've fallen for each other too quickly, but this may just be the old fogey in me.
The deeper issues
One of the things I liked the most about Push, is Silver's refusal to back away from dark subjects. She makes Mika's father's alcoholism a pretty central plot point, emphasizing Mika's alternating anger, frustration and disappointment at her inability to control or even alter the situation.
Similarly, we see Miki realizing the challenges of having secrets from friends, and how she copes with the idea that there are some places that her friends can't follow. These are pretty heady lessons for younger readers to absorb, but Silver shares these lessons in a way that they will understand.
Yeah, I know that's not grammatically correct. But I don't care. Because, THAT ENDING.
*Points frantically at that ending*.
I seriously NEED the next book already. And I can guarantee that every reader will feel exactly the same way!
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Without giving spoilers away, there were scenes involving the Committee in the book that made me go "… Seriously? What gives you the right…?!"
However, this also means that Eve Silver clearly has me seriously invested in her world, so yay for that…?
However, this definitely wasn't the case with Push. While the book isn't perfect, Silver builds upon the already-strong foundation that she created in Rush, and uses Miki and Jackson's respective personal drama to help further an already impossible situation. Between trying to figure out the truth in their own respective lives, and trying to deal with surprising changes to the Game, this is one adrenaline-filled journey that will propel readers from beginning to end.
(And seriously, seriously have them beginning for the sequel. I know I felt like that when I got near the end, and I definitely had a "Wait, no! I need more!" moment.)
I highly recommend Push for previous fans of the series, but also for readers who want a YA science fiction novel that absolutely hits all of the right notes.
About the author:
Eve Silver lives with her gamer husband and sons, sometimes in Canada but often in worlds she dreams up. She loves kayaking and sunshine, dogs and desserts, and books, lots and lots of books. She is the author of Rush. She also writes books for adults. You can visit her online at www.evesilver.net or find her on Facebook and Twitter @Eve_Silver.