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Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: February 1st, 2022

416 Pages

Synopsis: Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed. (Goodreads)

These Deadly Games is another buzzy upcoming book making the rounds, and while I had a couple of issues with it I sped through it in three hours.

Let me get the negatives out of the way. I had a difficult time connecting to most of the characters, especially Crystal. Most of them were a bit obnoxious in one way or another, although I did warm up to a couple the further I got into the story and learned more about them. Crystal was especially difficult because adding to that was some poor decision making on her part. However, given that she’s sixteen, and put into an impossible situation I tried not to be too judgemental. And, as is usually the case with unsympathetic characters, they can make great suspects, which is what happens here. Up until the halfway point of the story I had pegged the role of the villain on everyone, including Crystal. Although I did deduce who it was well before the big reveal, it was still interesting because of all the unknown particulars. What makes me give this 4 stars though is the unique action-packed storyline and all the twists. All too often I’ve gone into a book that’s billed as a thriller only to find that it barely fits into the suspense genre. This story is a thriller in every sense, and I was absolutely glued to the pages as Crystal careened from one tormenting game to another, while at the same time desperately trying to unmask her tormentor. The ending when it came, unveiled a few last surprises that left me quite happy with the few hours I spent reading.

Overall, despite the mainly unlikable cast, I really enjoyed These Deadly Games. In her acknowledgments, Diana Urban mentions that her film agent is championing this in Hollywood, which isn’t surprising to me because I couldn’t help thinking what a fantastic movie or series this would make. If you love thrilling cat-and-mouse tales, I highly recommend this!