The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now...Henry and Flora. For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always. Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone's guess (from Goodreads).


The concept of this book was an ambitious one, so I wanted this to work but wasn't sure it would. And in a way it doesn't, but it also does. It's hard to explain. The Game of Love and Death challenges the idea of true love, destiny and even free will, and I'm not sure if that's the sort of thing people want to read about. Personally I liked it, but I know for a fact a lot of my friends would hate it. So really it's completely up to you. 

Love and Death are two of our four main characters, and they're really fascinating to read, particularly Death. She is so broken and tired of always winning the game she and Love share. She will do anything to win, but it's because she's lost all hope in love saving anyone. Love on the other hand hasn't given up his hope, still sure one day their players will make the right choice, sacrifice enough, to deserve victory. As of the year 1937, which is the year most of the book is set, he has never won. 

Henry and Flora are Love and Death's pawns. Henry was chosen in childhood by Love, to be a romantic, while Flora was chosen by Death, marred with being a black woman in a white man's world, with an understanding the world doesn't offer happy endings. Their lives should have never intertwined, but they were brought together by the game. Every step of the way their romance faces opposition, through society because of their different stations, of their different skin tones, or simply from their own life choices. Throughout the story, Love and Death take human forms to influence their players. 

What I liked about this book is how different it was, that the author had taken a chance. While most YA fiction books focus on how it was fate that drew their characters together, and that they have to fight to be together, The Game of Love and Death gives those forces pushing them together or pulling them apart a personality, a face. I really enjoyed the idea life and love being nothing more than a game between two immortal beings, that our choices aren't really our own. 

A flaw of the book was how flat Henry and Flora came across. When Love and Death were so complex, it was a disappointment to not feel the same intensity from the other main characters. And the ending was a little bit of a letdown. But for how short the book was, it achieved quite a lot. 

Please give this book a consideration as it is something different. If you pick it up and feel it's probably not for you, that's okay. I don't think it's the sort of book you should go into without at least finding the subject matter intriguing. 

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