Just a bit scary…

Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg gt

The thing I love about reading kid’s literature is that deep down you always know things will (usually) turn out alright. So even though this was a nail-biter – here’s a tip Rose don’t read scary books before trying to go to sleep, especially not in a strange bed! – I was confident things would turn out okay – and guess what? (yes, we’ve agreed to do spoilers here) they did. Phew!

Quick plot summary – Jamie’s older pain-in-the-butt sister wins the lotto – big tikidnapme. Shortly, thereafter his little sister is kidnapped for ransom. Jamie is the only one the kidnapper will talk to.

I quite enjoyed this book even though thrillers aren’t my preferred genre. Like you, Rose, I thought it was great to have a protagonist who wasn’t your standard A-grade English student who loves to lose themselves in books and tends towards anti-social behaviours. That said, I found Jamie a slightly implausible teenager. Do male teenagers really worry about hanging out on swings being suspected of being paedophiles? Do they really have such a paternal relationship (as demonstrated before the kidnapping) with their little sister? Do they really say It’s delightful to meet you?

And while I accept Jamie was a maths freak, I found it hard to swallow that he was such an eloquent (verbose?) maths freak.

I referenced the altitude theorem, added another equilateral triangle within the first and showed how, of the resultant four congruent triangles, it was only in the medial that the sum of the lengths of any two pieces exceeded the length of the third piece. p100

But what I really didn’t like was when the kidnapper rings Jamie and he hangs up saying he’s busy! WTF? I know this was supposed to be linked into the whole premise of Game Theory – out-thinking your opponent – but still…his beloved little sister has been kidnapped by some psycho and the first thing he says is I’m busy and hangs up. Not cool! Not believable! Not okay!

As to who the kidnapper was – sorry, didn’t buy that either…

I feel like I’m being too harsh because aside from all that, I really ripped through this book and did enjoy reading it. My absolute favourite bit was when Jamie and Spider went to a crook and his Granny’s house to buy a gun.


The black humour in this scene reminded me of some of the laugh-out-loud moments of Barry’s early Calma books.

Looking forward to seeing what he does next smile


About Heather Gallagher

Heather lives in Ocean Grove with her beautiful family and a dog called Pip. She has a passion for quirky stories. Her first book, Ferret on the Loose, was published in 2013 and was recently listed on the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge. The book was inspired by a girl and her ferret, who Heather interviewed while working as a freelance journalist for The Sunday Age. Her column, Yak Attack, ran in the Kids View section for more than a year and allowed Heather to profile people she thought would be of interest to kids. In 2014, she released her first picture book Happy Pants – Why is mummy so sad? This is NOT a story about ferret racing. Rather, it is a heartfelt story about a boy grappling with his Mum’s post-natal depression. Heather’s stories for children have appeared in black dog books Short & Scary anthology and Explore and Challenge magazines. Heather has experience in public speaking – both for children and adults. While, promoting Happy Pants she spoke to groups of counsellors, nurses, parents and at library events. She has presented writing workshops to primary-aged children. Last year, she was a presenter at the Sacred Edge festival and the Christian Writers’ Conference.
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