GAMES OF THE STRONG by Glenda Adams

GAMES OF THE STRONG

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Lackluster futuristic novel about a young woman's resistance to a totalitarian regime, by Australian-born Adams (Dancing on Coral, 1987). Heroine Neila becomes an enemy of the state (the "Complex") because she believes her parents were killed as resisters. Placed in a household of ultra-orthodox Complexers, she hides her tree thoughts, even after falling in love with foster brother Lak. But things are not as they seem: her foster family is arrested and disappears; Neila's dissident companions (evil, voluptous Serena; powerful Wils, who briefly becomes Neila's lover) may or may not be double agents; Neila herself ends up as Acting Minister of Information for the Complex--in which capacity she risks her own freedom, hoping to undermine the system, release political prisoners, and find Lak. Her adventures take her to the different territories of the Complex--including the Mountain (inhabited by a distinctive ethnic group from which Neila is in part descended) and the Island (the penal colony where resisters are dumped). Unfortunately, characters shift sides, appear and disappear, rise and fall from power for no apparent reason in almost dreamlike fashion, so that their dilemmas and the authoritarian menace they face never seem quite real. The author's creation of a Mountainer language and ethnography, and examples of Complex propaganda are ambitious but not inventive enough to add much intellectual spice. As for the title, the Games of the Strong (an Olympics-like extravaganza) barely figure in the book; presumably Adams intends a more far-reaching metaphoric meaning. A well-intentioned but familiar cautionary tale.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1989
Review Posted Online:




MORE BY GLENDA ADAMS