Title: George and the Galactic Games
Author: H.S. Stone
Genre: Science Fiction
George is the new kid in school. He also recently lost his father to a heart attack. In an effort to cheer him up, George’s mother takes him on a camping trip. That’s when their troubles really begin. Extraterrestrials abduct both mother and son. Now George finds himself an unwilling participant in the Yumal Contests, a galactic game against an alien species. He must overcome his fears and limitations to win because these games are not just a casual sporting event … his life hangs in the balance.
After reading H.S. Stone’s Beyond New Eden and Keep Your Enemies Close, I’ve been meaning to read the rest of his books. It took me a while to get around to it, but I finally found this one as an ebook for three dollars, and figured it was as good a place to start as any.
George was really enjoyable. I admired his courage and his determination not to let his team down, even though he was sure he wasn’t good at anything. His grief over his father’s death also seemed very real. My only problem with him is the same problem I have with almost every middle grade book with a male main character – as a 17-year-old girl, I didn’t connect with him as well as I wanted to.
I enjoyed the other characters on George’s team, as well. (Except Frank, but I’m not sure anyone liked Frank.) Roger and Susan, the middle aged couple, were fun, but I especially liked Emily, who was George’s age. She was optimistic and encouraging, but she seemed to have a very similar skill set to George, which was a little weird.
I guessed why things weren’t working right long before it was explained – but it wasn’t super obvious. I had to actually think about putting the pieces together, as opposed to just realizing what’s going on. This is a middle grade book, though, and I doubt the book’s intended audience would guess it.
I loved the idea of the Yumal Contest games. At first, it made me think of a less gory, middle grade Hunger Games with aliens, but as I read on, I realized that wasn’t true at all. The concept was a lot like a challenge-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) class I’m taking, with a combination of physical and mental challenges for points. But here, there were the teams’ freedom on the line – losers stayed behind as slaves. It was a fascinating idea, and I loved every moment of it.
I really enjoyed George and the Galactic Games. It was fun, and even though it wasn’t as lighthearted as I expected, it wasn’t heavy-handed, either. A thoroughly enjoyable read.