A couple of days ago, I picked up my proof copy of Lifegame by Alison Allen-Gray meaning to flick through it. I started at the first page, however, and was immediately hooked. I read it off and on all day – tea breaks, lunch hour and for a few minutes while the internet was down – and then took it home where I read it to the end. You’ll have gathered that I enjoyed it. I don’t know why I’m so surprised as I read Alison’s first book, Unique, with the same intensity.
Lifegame tells the story of two teenage friends, Fella and Grebe (I could wish that they had different names), who live in the Island State at some indeterminate time in the future. For different reasons they both need to leave the island. However, they believe that there is nowhere else to live after a bio-chemical attack left the rest of the world poisoned. The novel takes them on a quest for the truth – some of which turns out to be horrific.
This isn’t a perfect novel. If I were judging it for the Carnegie Medal, I’d point out that there are loose ends, glitches in the plot and extraneous details. I’m not, though, so I’d recommend it whole-heartedly to young teenage readers. It’s pacy, engaging and compelling and published in May.