The Galaxy Game - Karen Lord

I hate it when reviewers start their reviews with 'I wanted to like this book, but...' so I'm not going to do that. What I am going to do is flag up that (despite it not being marketed as such) that this is a sequel to The Best of all Possible Worlds and that anyone reading it is going to struggle to get the best out of it without reading that book first. 

There were a couple of reasons I didn't enjoy this book as much as the previous one in the series and unfortunately I don't see any way that the author could have got round them - they are, in no particular order, the choice of protagonist and the sport of wall-running.

Rafi is the nephew of one of the main characters in The Best of all Possible Worlds, the son of a man who has heavily misused his psionic abilities to abuse and control his family. Rafi has those same abilities and is terrified of the same tendencies turning up in him, with no support from his traumatised mother who is (understandably) pretty much scared of her own shadow by this point. Having said that, Rafi and his friend Ntenman, who is another of our point of view characters, are both teenage boys. 

Frankly, what they were getting up to didn't appeal to me in the slightest - I'm more interested in the fate of the Sadiri and how they're dealing with the destruction of their planet and the ensuing political mess. The manoeuvering and splinter groups as the different populations try to establish just how things are going to work would have been much more interesting to me as a backbone to the book.

Secondly, the wall-running. Cool as all hell, but I really struggled to get my brain around how it was supposed to work and don't think I ever did. And then suddenly it's not just a game, it's a way to travel between planets? Hmmm. Still can't quite get my head around that.

Those two things meant I didn't like the book as much as I could have and as a result, I'm giving this 3 stars. To my mind, there's a clear set-up for more books in this series/universe, particularly around what the folks on New Sadiri are up to and the fate of a number of characters left unrevealed. Look forward to seeing what comes next and I will definitely continue to pick up whatever Karen Lord puts out.