Monday, January 24, 2011
Book Review: The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
Hayley has lived with her rule obsessed Grandmother for what feels like forever until she is sent away for bringing home pieces of the mythosphere. Staying with a whole brood of cousins she didn't know she had, she begins to take part in a game that no one is allowed to talk about outside of playing it. At all costs her uncle Jolyen must not find out about the game but as she continues to play she learns more about her family, where they come from, and why the mythosphere has become forbidden.
I picked this book up, nostalgic for pre-Rowling children's fantasy and it satisfied my craving exactly.
The mythology in this book runs deep.*SPOILERS* Hayley (who is also a comet) is the daughter of Sisyphus and Merope and her Uncle Joylen is actually Mars. Unlike much recent fantasy for younger audiences that use mythic characters as a spring board for their own creations, The Game stays true to the spirit in which the myths were originally believed in. Jolyn is not merely a strict, over demanding, hypocritical authority figure but a recognized personification all of strict, over demanding, hypocritical authority figures. In the mythosphere everything is not only not what it seems but more than one thing at the same time. Human perceptions of things run in threads until they reach the darker parts and start to crust over. It is a perfect manifestation of how myths develop and the patterns and motifs that always seem to come back.
Fantasy that explores things that are impossible in real life are fun but fantasy that explores things that exist in the space between reality and storytelling become myth and it was refreshing to see that done well for a younger audience who have not yet let tangible reality interfere with their perceptions of truth.