Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

This was a wholly engrossing book that caught my attention from the very first page and didn’t let go. It is a riveting story that has a bit of everything.
I won’t go into the plot too much because I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say it is a clever one that has many sides to it. The narrator, Jolyon, is unreliable, making the reader wonder just how much of what he is telling is the truth. The rest of the characters, especially Chad, are well developed and jump right off the page. The author also does a good job of escalating the tension in the book, so that the reader begins to feel as uncomfortable as the characters do as the plot progresses.
As with any book that maintains such a tense plot for so long, the ending is a bit on the flat side. It feels like the author deliberately left a weak ending so that he can write a sequel, when it would have been effective to conclude with a much stronger voice, even if he was thinking of a sequel.
I do recommend this one, though, to anyone who loves a great thriller. 

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