Perform, or wake up in a new body.
Earth’s one world government has had a hard time making all of its people agree on laws. Only one law a year can be changed, and only by the winner of The Chase, a dangerous competition by teenage super-athletes with the weight of the world riding on their young shoulders.
Willis is the hope of the Western Alliance. His parents were both Chase athletes. After their retirement at age 21, millions watched their wedding online and rejoiced at the news of Willis’ birth. Multitudes are sure he will come through for them. If he doesn’t, he could be recoded again- a process that the subject does not always survive. Admired by millions and shielded from hard truths, yet more a commodity than a person, Willis must win if he wants to live. When he discovers hidden secrets, he learns that more than his personal survival rides on his victory.
Sheila Kemp is a free thinking reporter. Too free thinking, it turns out. She is sent to cover the athletes on their orbiting training station, and if she tells them what she knows, the consequences will be unthinkable. When Willis starts to discover things he isn’t supposed to know, she must choose between what she loves and what she values.
I loved the characters in this book. I found it hard not to admire Willis, a teen who has grit, determination and a good heart even with all the adversity he has overcome. I also enjoyed Caffee’s depiction of what fame can be on the inside – gritty, desperate, and even a kind of bondage. Sheila, Jaden, Perryn and Kane (among others) were multidimensional characters. I despised Administrator Blacc, but I think that is what the author intended. The only mention of anything religious is once when the lead character “prays” that something won’t happen. Even so, there are clear themes of good and evil, the folly of putting your hope in something that isn’t God, and other things that I can’t tell you without spoiling it for you.
I have to admit that I was less than thrilled with the premise of the book. A one world government on Earth seems unlikely, at best, and the athletic event as solution aspect seemed to be a whole lot of plot device. Still, the athletic event as solution to social problems has a long and successful history, from older stories such as Logan’s Run to the more recent Hunger Games and Ready Player One. I found the book hard to follow at times, especially when the point of view switched between players in the same scene. There were a few times during the first third of the book when I found myself wondering what, exactly, Willis was doing there- until I realized that Willis was wondering the same thing. (It really picked up past the half way point). The ending was not a cliffhanger, but at the same time it left questions unanswered that I thought would be answered. It’s clear that there will be one or more sequels, and I’m sure the other questions will be answered there.
If you liked Hunger Games, I encourage you to pick up The Chase. It’s exciting and inventive, and clean books for young men are hard to find. I’m looking forward to the sequel! I could tell you why, except spoilers…
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Science Fiction
Heat: There is a romance storyline, but it is very clean. There is some hugging and romantic thoughts, but they concentrate on feelings rather than the alternative.
Violence: There is moderate violence- it’s less than your average modern superhero movie, but at least one character dies violently. Killing is not glorified, and the violence is never gory or gratuitous.
Age Recommendation: 14+, due to the the violence and romance subplot. Although there is a romance subplot, it is written from a young man’s perspective. I think teen boys would especially enjoy this book.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book with a request for an honest review.