Upon reading The Game Of Love And Death by Martha Brockenbrough, I dare say I’ve found my new favourite book! My previous one had been The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, which still holds a very special place in my heart, however I was barely ten chapters into The Game Of Love And Death when I realised I loved it just as much, and very, very possibly, more.
It is a story in which Love and Death, personified as people (who can also transform into other disguises and animals) choose two people for their “game”. It is somewhat reminiscent of The Book Of Life, however is much more intriguing. It begins in 1920, and takes place properly throughout 1937. Death, back in 1920, chose Flora as their player, while Love chose Henry as their player. The game is that Flora and Henry have to fall in love before a certain date (July 7th). They must “have courage and choose each other above all else”, and if they do that, Love’s prize is that they can live on, while Death’s is that they will claim the life of their player.
I have never read a book before where the characters have been filled with so much emotion and charm that I had to stop and take a breather. I have never quite experienced how passionate and loving a person could get like I have reading this book. The way a character would babble and sputter, or just think. I have never felt my heart swell through the written word like I have reading this book.
Henry, seeing as he was chosen by Love, is a character filled to the very brim with passion and appreciation and love. I have never seen anything even remotely akin to it before. He is poetic in a way that I find hard to describe, but it is such a beautiful and ethereal way that I wouldn’t want to tarnish it by trying. The way he moves, and talks, and even thinks is just so perfectly flowing to me, and it all falls right into place, comfortable and sound. As a person who is big on reading, and writing, and imagining, I have never ever come across a character quite like this in anything before. Flora, because she was chosen by Death, is much more realistic and grounded, but this also comes from dealing with many social issues around the time. She has a much more guarded heart, but it is filled with just as much passion as Henry’s. While Henry loves music, Flora loves fixing planes and flying them. They are hardly similar, but you, as I certainly did, still wholeheartedly vouch for them.
Since it is set in 1937 in Seattle, there are a lot of historical references and racial tension, which definitely plays into the importance of The Game, and the story as a whole. Flora is a person of colour, while Henry is white. The odds, in terms of this fact, seem to be against them if they are to win for Love. But who can say what the outcome is? Their different skin colours at the time period prove quite the challenge to overcome, and it is hard to watch them go through it. It is hard to see two characters you love so dearly be so harshly separated by something that shouldn’t be an obstacle at all.
The story is intense, and there is always something happening. It’s the kind of story you wish you could reach into and move the characters around so everything will end happily. The story draws you in from the very, very first word until the last, and it is exceedingly difficult to tear yourself away from the pages. There is so much to feel as you read it, so much worry and exhilaration, so much love and hope. It’s a miracle my own heart didn’t beat right out of my chest as I read it.
The writing is stunning. It’s beautiful, poetic, and portrays such clear, vivid images in the reader’s mind, so they feel like they are right there as part of the story. I always prefer finding writing that is nice, and makes me feel something in my gut, and I found just that in this book. I really love, among all the books out there, when I find one with the perfect style of writing that makes me wish I could do something as amazing as that. I am drawn to pretty words and intricate stories, and upon finding one, I know I’ll never really let it go, and this is how I feel about The Game Of Love And Death. With all the literature out there, I feel so fortunate to have found a book like this, and I don’t think it will be an action I will ever be able to repeat.
I am rather melancholic over the whole story. With the racism and the pressing view that someday, good things come to an end, living things will die, things will go wrong – Someday, someday, someday – it feels heavy, and sorrowful, but there is always another side to the coin, a shinier side, one that feels much more joyful. Love exists because death exists, and you shouldn’t be afraid of someday. If you constantly worry over the end, you’ll never experience the middle, and what happiness the middle could bring you. You shouldn’t be afraid to love.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It is such a thrilling read, and such a heartfelt one, that I’m sure anyone would enjoy it. It was the most beautiful book I have ever read, and it will linger in the back of my mind for a very long time.