Writing - 10/10
Development - 10/10
Overall - 10/10
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Intense And Brilliant – Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Middlegame is the newest novel by Seanan McGuire. It’s a standalone novel, but it’s similar enough to the Wayward Children series that her fans should enjoy this one as well. It’s an intense and brilliantly written novel, full of the strange combination of whimsy and danger that has made her Wayward Children series so well loved.
The novel follows a set of twins, Roger and Dodger, on their unbelievable journey through life, time, and so much more. What’s interesting is that this novel could be described as either science fiction or fantasy, depending on one’s personal leaning. There’s alchemy, time travel and distortions, and so much more.
It’s no small secret that I’m a huge fan of Seanan McGuire. That being said, this novel may quite possibly be my favorite book she’s ever written. And I feel like that’s saying something. It’s so intricate and delicate, while also bouncing around from endearing to disturbing and back again. It’s a wonderful mix of emotions.
Seanan McGuire used several different storytelling techniques to bring Middlegame to life. The way these different elements unravel as the novel moves forward made for a truly compelling tale. It’s a tale we had to follow and sort out along the way, which was an interesting touch.
Like many other series by Seanan McGuire (and her pseudonym Mira Grant), she pulls in other elements whenever possible. So along with the tale of Roger and Dodger, is a fairytale children’s book full of foreshadowing.
Thanks to the time element in this novel, McGuire was able to take certain liberties in the order and way she told us some of the stories. It made for a compelling story, as well as a fun puzzle to solve along the way.
The writing for Middlegame was so smooth, and while it is a whopping five hundred and twenty-eight pages, never once did it feel like this novel got too long. If anything, I’d say it was too short. It’s safe to say that I would happily have kept reading if there had been more to read.
I should probably also mention that there are some heavier subjects covered over the course of Middlegame. Normally I don’t mention spoilers in these reviews, but I think this is a good exception, especially if I try to stay vague. There are themes of child abuse in this novel, as well as self-harming, suicide attempts, and a lot of other heavy themes.
For the most part, Middlegame was a fast-paced and enthralling novel. There were moments where we were allowed to breathe, where we were shown a lull in time. It was in these moments that we were really given the opportunity to get to know the main characters, as well as what exactly it was that they faced.
Roger and Dodger were fascinating characters. They were so human, while also being very obviously so much more than human. They were flawed, and they each had their own quirks. I loved the balance between the two, not just thematically, but because it made sense.
There were moments in this novel that were beautiful, and moments that were heartbreaking. McGuire did a brilliant job of wrapping up such moving moments into two children – two children that aren’t fully human.
The antagonist in the series was an interesting character, to put it mildly. His motivations were both complex and selfish, and his thought process was frequently brutal. Yet his raw determination was something that can’t be denied. It made for an interesting character, and for an even better mirror against our twins.
Middlegame was an absolutely amazing read, a novel that easily landed itself on my top ten list for the year (if not higher). I would have had to struggle to find anything to complain about, so I’m not even going to try.
It was emotionally compelling, fascinating, and clever all rolled into one. The unique feel of this novel is very similar to the Wayward Children series – so fans of that series should absolutely give this one a try. It’s somewhere between whimsical and disturbing, with a dash of the fantastical.
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