cover image These Deadly Games

These Deadly Games

Diana Urban. Wednesday, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-2507-9719-3

In Urban’s (All Your Twisted Secrets) sometimes grim mystery, 16-year-old Vermonter Crystal and her six-person team of esports gamers prepare to compete in a statewide MortalDusk tournament. The stakes are high—a $3 million prize—but official rules stipulate that only five players may play, leading to an internal competition amid the group. As Crystal attempts to beat out the others, including Japanese American bestie Akira, she has bigger problems on her mind, including her parents’ divorce, a dark secret she holds, and, suddenly, a text message saying that her 13-year-old sister has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Crystal takes part in a deadly real-life game—“React to this, and she dies. Show this to anyone, and she dies.” Accepting the challenge, the teen begins a series of strange, frequently harmful tasks that target her friends. Crystal’s gaming skills prove useful as she works to understand who is behind the setup, but her tormenter is always one step ahead in this occasionally predictable but interpersonally strong, frankly told thriller that toggles between the present and the past. Main characters read as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)