Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin) PB RRP $19.99
Australian Barry Jonsberg has won a swag of literary awards for his numerous books for children so one comes to his latest YA book, sub-titled I Have Your Sister with high hopes of a great read. Notwithstanding Jonsberg’s credits, I was somewhat disappointed but I do give him credit for his storytelling prowess and ability to write.
The book’s protagonist Jamie Delaware is a mathematically-gifted sixteen year old high school student with an obsession with Game Theory – the strategy for prediction based on any given facts. When his older sister Summerlee asks him for numbers to use in Lotto, he gives a random set, not expecting any positive result. The numbers in fact result in Summer winning first prize – of over seven million dollars. Wild and unpredictable, Summer divorces herself from the family and goes on a drug and alcohol-fuelled spree. Sometime later Jamie’s beloved younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped. It is here the story really begins.
The kidnapper makes contact with Jamie via his mobile phone, not just once but numerous times, his/her voice distorted. The police are called in. For me this is where I almost gave up on the book. Jamie is constantly self-analytical; everything has to be pondered and dissected. He gives full descriptions of everything he sees and experiences, including his thoughts on Game Theory. Nothing is left for the reader’s imagination. At one stage Jamie says, ‘You think I’m full of shit... Over-complicating.’ Der, yes. The reason I continued reading is to find out if Phoebe is rescued. And to a lesser extent to find out who the kidnapper is, for Jamie is determined he knows who it is, thanks to Game Theory.
There are readers who like to be told everything, and others who prefer to fill in gaps in the story. For those who like the detailed picture, this is, as the back cover says, ‘a brilliant, page-turning novel from a superb storyteller.’ For the others, be warned. This book is suitable for readers 13+ years.