Tuesday 3 November 2020

BLOG TOUR: Review of The Game Weavers by Rebecca Zahabi

Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Game Weavers! It's been one of my favourite reads from this year, so I'm excited to finally be sharing my thoughts. 

Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Publisher: ZunTold Books
Genre: Contemporary, Magical Realism
Release Date: October 25th 2020
TW: Homophobia, Abuse
Buy the Book: Book Depository

Seo Kuroaku has it all. Adopted as a boy by the formidable Sir Neil, he's the youth champion of Twine, the high-pressured national sport. Played in arenas where thousands come to watch, weavers craft creatures from their fingertips to wage battle against fearsome opponents. But this is a Britain of much darker times - and Seo is harbouring a secret. 

When he is outed, Twine can't help him. With the help of his little brother Minjun and Jack, the man he can't decide if he loves or not, Seo has to find a way to get his life back on track, whilst facing the biggest match of his life. 

In The Game Weavers, Rebecca Zahabi has created a fantastical yet hauntingly contemporary narrative which is both love story and fable - The Game Weavers is a coming of age story about the importance of intimacy, family and self-acceptance.

This book. Where do I even START? There’s nothing I love more than a story that takes place in a world parallel to ours, but twists reality ever so slightly. In The Game Weavers, everything is the same except for the existence of Twine. I’m so in love with the concept of Twine. It was what initially drew me towards the story in the first place. In this book, people are able to craft creatures via their hands using threads. Those who are talented at weaving can compete in Twine tournaments, which have the popularity and the fan base that football does in our own world. Twine consists of two players creating a battle ground and creatures that fight against each other. Whoever has the most ground at the end wins the game

Seojun is a professional at Twine and extremely popular amongst the fans. Borrowing from examples we see amongst our own popular sports’ fans, the viewers of Twine tend not to be accepting of minorities within the game, so when Seo is exposed for sleeping with men, his manager and fans react badly. The story follows Seo’s journey to accepting himself and discovering what he truly wants

One of the more beautiful aspects of this story is how character driven it is. Though there is a big focus on Seo’s sexuality and his growing relationship with Jack, a boy he hooked up with when he used to hide his identity on a dating app, the most important relationship in the story is that of Seo and his brother Minjun. Due to Seo being quite a few years older than his brother, the contrast between their chapters is perfect for showing us how the events vary through their eyes. It’s their bond that helps both of them progress through the story, eventually allowing Seo to realize what’s important to him, and how Twine shouldn’t threaten that. 

We also have chapters that follow Jack throughout the story, and I enjoyed getting to see his side of things as someone who was completely outside Twine. His life is so very different to Seo’s, and he’s an important part of helping Seo to realise that he shouldn’t have to sacrifice his personal life and disregard his own happiness for the sake of his career. 

  • TWINE. In terms of the various fictional sports I’ve read about in the past, Twine has got to be on of my favourites. IT’S. SO. INTERESTING. Whilst the story itself read like a contemporary, Twine provided an interesting fantasy twist. It was described so vividly that every game played out like a movie in my head. 
  • CHARACTERS. The side characters are just as interesting as the main characters, especially Seo’s main rival. Do they have flaws? Yes. Does that only make them a more interesting character who you root for to work through their problems? Absolutely. 
  • DETAILS. There are so many little things in the background that help this story feel truly authentic. At one point there are protestors who think the weaved creatures have feelings and that Twine is cruel. It’s only mentioned in passing but it made me question whether they did. Small details like this help immerse us in the world even more. 
  • ATMOSPHERE. Whilst this book can be heartwarming, it can also be chilling too. Seo’s relationship with his manager, Sir Neil, had me on edge a lot of the time. And I also found it terrifying how in this world, acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community had regressed. We are always so close to out own world taking steps back, and we’ve seen examples of just how much over the past couple of years, so it hits painfully close to home. 

The blurb for this book immediately called out to me with how interesting the concept was, but I didn’t expect to utterly adore it as much as I did. Injecting a little bit of everything, Rebecca Zahabi is a master at twisting the reality we know into something new and exciting. The Game Weavers is easily one of my favourites from the year so far.

Royal Rating:

Be sure to check out the fabulous blogs taking part in the rest of the tour:

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