Starving Review: The Treason Game by Viv Doyle


The Treason Game by Viv Doyle (Amazon)

It’s time to sink our teeth into some fresh meat after our brief hiatus! Let’s get back into the saddle with a classic coming-of-age recipe mixed with a fresh coat of contemporary paint. Following a young British woman as she tries to find her way in the world and find a career in the video gaming industry, will this mix of classic storytelling and modern ingredients pay off with a tasty meal or sludgy quagmire?

Before we start the download, let’s check the Starving Review Rules FAQ:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

One might think from the subtitle on the cover (Ever Fallen In Love With An Avatar?) that Treason must be a romance novel or perhaps be a cousin of the nascent LitRPG genre, but that would not be the case. Not that there aren’t romantic elements or computer gaming elements, not at all, but this meal is solidly grounded into the venerable ingredients of the coming-of-age tale. With that being said, let’s focus on that genre and its elements to get to our final verdict.

The core of this sort of story is its characters. Without an engaging protagonist and a solid arc of growth and maturation, it’s really not a coming of age meal, is it? Fortunately, Treason‘s characters are its strength. There is a deep nuance throughout the entire cast and even the most cardboard secondary characters tend to show a depth that isn’t immediately obvious. The arc of growth and the fleshing out of the characters over the course of the meal makes a solid throughline. Essentially a full-on success.

Likewise, the elements of the story that look at the video game industry and our protagonist’s journey into it are also well-researched and written. We never delve into boring minutiae but there is sufficient detail that we aren’t lost in the plots that revolve around the business. It all holds together and most of all is imminently believable.

The only parts that don’t ring one-hundred percent good are the elements directly in the titular Treason Game itself. These sequences aren’t bad per se but as a consumer of much video gaming and MMOs in particular, it feels like something of a previous gaming age or a strange niche title, not the massively popular MMO it is touted to be. It’s not an execution or wordsmithing issue; it’s one of suspension of disbelief as an avid gamer. This is just a minor quibble in the main, just enough to prevent a series of perfect marks for this cuisine.

To bring it all together, The Treason Game is a tasty coming-of-age tale told through the modern video game industry, smooth with only a few sour notes! If you enjoy coming-of-age stories or have an interest in reading about the video game industry (bonus points if you’re either British or an Anglophile), I’d suggest picking this one up. If you are looking for a more pure video game experience or an action-fest, this probably isn’t the meal for you.

FINAL VERDICT: **** (A tasty coming-of-age tale told through the video game industry, smooth with only a few sour notes!)

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