“The Stranger Game is a sharp-toothed commentary on the ways in which Ôfollowing’ can foster a pretense of intimacy between strangers, and how the falsity of this intimacy—its utter lack of substance—often creates a perilous hunger for more: more access, more communion, more knowledge. It’s also a fun, moody, twisty thriller, with a sun-touched, West Coast vibe...as much Joan Didion as Patricia Highsmith.” —Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins A literary suspense novel in which an eerie social game goes viral and spins perilously—and criminally—out of control.
Rebecca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the “stranger game,” a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense and disappearances are reported across the country.
Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may take her further and further from the life she once lived.
A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.
In this engrossing novel from Gadol (Silver Lake), Rebecca is enticed by boyfriend Ezra into the stranger game, a rapidly spreading phenomenon in which players follow random strangers but with no actual contact. After Ezra disappears while possibly playing the game, Rebecca despondently analyzes their life together. She has nothing to offer when Detective Martinez questions her. She then meets a man named Cary, whom she sends away in anger, but they later reunite and begin playing the game together. They spot others playing, and note that the rules are changing so that contact is allowed. Just who makes the rules is unexplained. Rebecca and Cary follow a couple to an abandoned house, where they see someone pushed off a cliff. By the time Rebecca can report the crime, Cary has disappeared. Is Rebecca a suspect? The lack of place names and identifying features adds to the feeling of alienation and angst, as the story pulls the reader further into the game. Those with a taste for the offbeat will find this well worth reading.