Book #70

Contest by Matthew Reilly

The New York Public Library. A silent sanctuary of knowledge; a 100-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and long marble hallways. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. Because for one night this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete - whether he likes it or not.

The rules are simple: Seven contestants will enter, only one will leave.

With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds brutal. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight - but if he wants to live, he has to win. For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all.

I was a bit indifferent about this one to begin with. I bought it for £1 from a supermarket, and it was a bit of an impulse buy. I only really bought it because it was set in a library; I had no idea it was science fiction, which is something I don't really read a lot of. I was dubious for the first fifty pages or so, it wasn't amazingly written, but what a story! I was gripped quite quickly.

An interesting factoid here is that Reilly had to pay for this novel to be published after being rejected by a good few publishing companies in Australia. I have a lot of respect for this; I think it shows true determination and self-belief.

I'm not a huge fan of science fiction or action novels, and this was a bit of both. I do, however, like fast-paced novels and this had wonderful plot flow. There were, however, some lovely but gruesome descriptive images put into place. This can sometimes be quite lacking in fast-paced novels, so I enjoyed the treat.

I liked the Battle Royale idea here, and I especially liked that each contest was a different species, all from different planets, each one being an alien to the other. They all had different shapes, and different ways of moving and fighting, which was incredibly interesting to read about.

There were parts that felt slightly clich├ęd in parts, but these do generally appear quite a bit in novels such as these. You are 99.9% sure that the protagonist won't be killed off with 200 pages to go, but the author tries to lull you into believing it anyway - there are a lot of narrow escapes. I'd normally be cynical of plot twists such as these, but this time it just added to the excitement.

This is a good, quick read, and would be wonderful for reading on a journey or even a holiday. I'd recommend it to anyone who fancies something different. It is by no means light-hearted, but easy to get through and compelling. £1!

70 / 66 books. 106% done!