The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

18142342Title: The Galaxy Game
Author: Karen Lord
Published: January 6, 2015
Pages: 336
Publisher: Del Rey
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I’m going to be honest from the very beginning: writing a plot summary for this book is really challenging. The reason is that any sort of synopsis I can come up with doesn’t do justice to the unique and dynamic story that is contained within these pages. Karen Lord has a masterful way of world building and character development that a reviewer like me just cannot capture in a few short paragraphs. I’ll use the book’s blurb instead, because even though I feel like there’s more to this story than is reflected there, at least it’s the publisher’s approved copy and not my mangled attempt to summarize this for you:

For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch, but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning – and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite. But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution – involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.

The story does take a bit to get going–there’s some lead-up and background that doesn’t seem entirely necessary in the early stages but comes back around to be very important to understanding the world in which these characters live. The personalities, cultural dynamics, and themes of family, success, integrity, and survival are well-represented and very natural to the flow of the story.

This was the first book I’ve read by Karen Lord, but I definitely see myself seeking out more.