Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Format: ARC, Kindle Edition
Source: Review Copy
Who will be left after lights out?
Tag, you’re it…
It’s 4:00 a.m. when they come for me. I am already awake, strung out on the fear that they will come, and the fear that they won’t. When I finally hear the click of the latch on the dormitory door, I have only a second to brace myself before—
At Cate's isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game—it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “Killed” during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the “Killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join the Assassins’ Guild, she know it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.
But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she’s the next target?
Reading The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay was like experiencing a flashback into my childhood, minus all of the crazy, and I absolutely, without a doubt, loved it.
The Assassin Game is set on a remote island in the Irish Sea that houses a private school called Umfraville. And 90 percent if its students are those people everyone always kind of hated as a kid. They’re super smart, super rich, super athletic, or just seemingly super perfect. Which is why Cate, who is only at Umfraville because her parents own the island, wants to desperately to be chosen by The Assassin’s Guild and invited to join this year’s round of Killer.
Now, does anyone else remember playing this game at parties? Everyone would draw a piece of paper out of a hat and one person would be dubbed the “Killer,” forced to secretly wink (kill) all of the other players without anyone ever noticing it was them. I loved this game as a kid, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Umfraville. Only The Guild takes it one step further. As the killer, you’re required to make the victim’s deaths very creative, very public, and very good.
But when these pranks start getting a little too dangerous, and Cate becomes the target, The Assassin Game takes an intense, thrilling turn that is so incredibly hard to set aside. It’s the mystery of who’s behind the Killer mask, just why they have it out for Cate, and how far everyone involved is willing to take the game that keeps everything interesting, right until the very end.
What I loved the most about The Assassin Game is that I honestly had no idea who was behind the dangerous pranks being pulled at Umfraville, and even when the big reveal happens at the end of the novel, I was pleasantly surprised. McKay does a wonderful job of providing a small suspect pool for readers, but making every single person feel dangerous. Even Cate herself.
And while I sometimes found Cate to be more of an annoyance as a narrator than anything, often finding her a bit weak-willed at times, I think she still fit The Assassin Game well. It’s very easy to feel her desperation and desire to fit in through the novel, which is a very large part of who she is as a character.
What I didn’t love about The Assassin Game was the need for a love story. One, because I didn’t find any of the male suitors particularly likeable. Vaughn’s definitely high on the creepy scale, Alex is undeniably full of himself, and Daniel has too many issues to even begin to discuss here. I just felt like, well, none of them were good enough to be a book boyfriend, so I didn’t want to spend much time with any of them. Although, I suppose what’s the fun in having a thriller if there’s nothing the character is afraid to lose?
Overall, despite my lack of love for love in The Assassin Game and a bit of a slow start, I’d definitely recommend McKay’s novel to anyone who loves a fun mystery that’ll grab your attention until the very end.