The Game Series
ISBN 13: 978-0062192134
Rush pulls you headlong into the thrilling, high-stakes world of Eve Silver’s teen series The Game, about teens pulled into and out of an alternate reality in which battling aliens is more than a game—it’s life and death. This teen debut novel offers science fiction and gaming fans romantic thrills at a breakneck pace.
So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?
Sixteen-year-old Miki Jones’s carefully controlled life spirals into chaos after she’s run down in the street, left broken and bloody. She wakes up fully healed in a place called the lobby—pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game in which she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures.
There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says that the game is more than that, and that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
Winner, Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading White Pine Award (2015)
Shortlisted for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy (2014)
OLA Best Bets for Young Adults (2013)
2013 American Bookseller’s Association Best Book for Children
2013 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens
Starred review in Quill and Quire
My head jerks up. My attention narrows. I push off the chain-link fence that marks the limit of school property. My friends are sitting cross-legged on the grass a few feet away under the massive oak tree we’ve claimed as our little corner of the field.
Actually, Glenbrook High has a ton of fields: two softball, two baseball, five tennis courts, track and field, the discus/hammer throw, four general-purpose fields, and the football turf with the thousand-seat bleacher. Our spot is at the edge of an all-purpose field, chosen by my friends for the excellent view of the track and the tennis courts. They like to watch boys in shorts.
We’re here pretty much every day after school. Definitely days when there’s track. No track today, just a lone boy running laps.
There it is again, a boy saying my name. Like he knows me. Like he expects me to listen when he speaks.
I can’t place the voice and I can’t see the speaker. Last year, a girl in my class had this creeper guy following her home. I hope I haven’t acquired a shadow of my own. The possibility sends a chill crawling up my spine despite the late afternoon sun that’s warm on my face.
I take a couple of steps toward the path that runs from the school fence to the street—one of several that fan out from the school like the spokes of a wheel. The path’s more of a small park that sits between two houses, a narrow strip of asphalt bounded by wide strips of grass. Trees rise on either side, their branches forming a green canopy. It’s not quite fall yet; the leaves won’t change color for a few weeks.
I wander to the edge of the small park and stop half a dozen yards from my friends, a dozen yards from the street.
There’s no one on the path.
But someone said my name.
From where I’m standing, I can see a handful of little kids being ushered across the street by the crossing guard in front of Oakview Elementary a block away. I watch for a few minutes, until no more little kids wait by the side of the road and the crossing guard gets ready to leave.
“Miki!” This time, it’s my best friend, Carly Conner, calling my name. She’s stretched out on the grass, her long legs crossed at the ankles. The weight of her torso rests on her bent elbow, her #11 Extra Light Blond hair falling in a sleek curtain just past her shoulders. I like it better than last month’s #100 Bleach Blond.
At five feet six, I’m a shade taller than Carly. My hair’s as dark as hers is pale. My features reflect the fact that my mom’s dad was Nisei—second-generation Japanese American— but my eyes are my dad’s mom’s unique shade of indigo blue. Every time people tell me I look “exotic,” I have to resist the urge to kick them in the shin.
Carly’s brows lift. Her unspoken question hangs between us: Why are you over there instead of over here?
I open my mouth, but before I can say a word, Deepti Singh asks, “Did you see him?”
“See who?” I ask, too sharp, thinking she knows something about the boy who was calling my name.
“What bug crawled up your ass?” Dee snaps back at the same time as Carly pushes upright and says, “New guy.”
Then Kelley Zimmer chimes in with, “Incredibly hot new guy,” and I realize we’re talking about completely different things.
Dee crosses her arms over her chest and presses her lips together. Hurt feelings. I sigh. Carly gives me her make nice look. She’s a middle child. Always the peacemaker.
“How do you know he’s hot?” I ask, more to mollify Dee than from genuine interest.
Success. She perks up and says, “We heard from Sarah. She saw him. Sort of. His profile, anyway.”
“I got to see more than his profile.” Carly draws out every word, playing Dee and Kelley like the keys of a piano. “I took the attendance sheet to the office for Ms. Smith during last period, and he walked in just as I was walking out. We were practically chest to chest.”
I press my lips together knowing Carly might be exaggerating just a little. She probably saw him from across the office, but her modified version makes a far better story.
“And?” Dee asks.
“Let’s just say his guns”—Carly strokes her fingertips along her biceps—“ought to be licensed.”
I snort at the outdated expression. Carly shoots me a look and waggles her eyebrows. Of course, she’s pushing all Dee’s buttons, and Dee plays right into her hands.
“Oh. My. Gawd.” Dee’s eyes widen, and she claps her palms together.
“Describe him. Every detail,” Kelley demands.
Carly reaches into her backpack, pulls out a lighter, and flicks it. The tip of her cigarette glows red. My gut clenches at the too-familiar sight. A white curl of smoke drifts from between her lips, and I look away before I say something I’ll regret.
She knows my history, but she’s smoking anyway. Preaching won’t make her do anything differently. It’d probably just make her dig in her heels. Been there, tried that when she went through her emo phase, then her multiple piercing phase, then her drinking phase—which ended in a puddle of puke right in front of Principal Murray’s office, a one-week suspension, and a month-long grounding.
I stood by her through all of it.
She stood by me through worse.
With a gasp, I spin around to find empty space behind me. The only boy anywhere near me is the one running laps on the track, and he’s too far away to be the one saying my name. I watch him for a bit, watch his arms and legs pumping, and I know what he’s feeling: endorphins racing through him. Runner’s high. Crack of dawn five days a week I’m there, in my zone, alone with my music and the rush I get as my feet slap the ground.
The boy on the track slows. Stops. Walks over to the grass and grabs his water bottle. He’s tall, dark haired. The distance between us is enough that I can’t be sure, but I think he’s looking at me. Then I know he is because he offers a terse nod.
Luka Vujic. We were friends about a million years ago, until…when? The middle of fourth grade? He wasn’t at Glenbrook last year as a sophomore—I think his dad was transferred somewhere out west. Now he’s back, and he’s changed. It isn’t just that he’s taller and leaner. There’s something in his eyes that wasn’t there before.
Now those eyes are fixed on me. I bob my head in reply and turn back to my friends.
“Oh. My. Gawd,” Dee says. She’s an equal-opportunity oh-my-gawder. “Is that Luka?”
They all turn their heads and stare.
“He is so cute,” Kelley says.
“So cute,” Dee agrees. “And so much more mature than his friends.”
“You think?” Carly asks.
Dee shrugs. “He doesn’t burp and make fart jokes. Not in the caf, anyway.”
Now there’s a recommendation of maturity if ever I heard one. But I do think Dee’s right. Despite the fact that he’s easygoing and friendly, Luka always seems to hold himself apart somehow, even in a crowd.
Carly watches Luka for a moment, and then she says, “He’s not just gorgeous. He’s smart, too.”
We all stare at her. That isn’t something that usually impresses her. She’s more of a solely-interested-in-cute-face-and-lots-of-muscles, all-the-better-if-he-has-a-car kind of girl.
“What?” she asks, eyes wide. “It’s hard to miss. He’s in my chem class and he pretty much skates through every question without a hitch.” She smirks. “He sits next to me and doesn’t seem to mind explaining stuff.”
“But you’re good at chem,” I point out. “Why do you need him to explain stuff?”
All three of them look at me like I’ve grown a second head. Then I get it. “Right. It isn’t a question of need—”
“It’s a question of want,” Carly finishes for me with a grin. “So far, I have Luka helping me in chem, Darnell helping me in Spanish, and Shey helping me in geometry.”
“Shey,” Kelley says on a sigh.
“You don’t need help in any of those classes,” I say.
All three of them roll their eyes at me.
“I do,” Carly says, with a lift of her brows. “I really do.”
“I hope the new guy’s in all my classes,” Kelley says. “Was he in any of yours today?”
“I don’t think he started classes yet,” Carly says. “I think he was just meeting with Principal Murray when I saw him in the office this afternoon.”
“I guess it’s a paperwork thing.” Kelley sighs. “Now we have to wait till Monday to see what classes he has.”
And they’re off, talking about him again, speculating on how his schedule might overlap with theirs. My attention wanders, but I catch the words hot and old-school aviator sunglasses. They jump to the next topic: the Halloween dance. It’s still weeks away, but it takes time to plan a good costume.
I haven’t yet put much thought into mine.
I wish I could. I wish I thought it mattered. My friends all get so excited about things like movies and dances and shopping; they feel things so intensely. I go through the motions and bluff extremely well, but I’m not like them. I haven’t been for almost two years. And that kills me. I just want to be…normal again.
I stand by the fence, watching them, far enough away that I’m part of their group, but not.
This time, the chill crawls up my spine before I hear the words.
Better and better. He knows my last name, too.
“What?” I ask under my breath, scanning the trees, the garbage can, the fence. I’m annoyed now.
Someone’s hiding somewhere. Voices don’t just materialize in a person’s head. But my friends are focused on one another, not one of them noticing that someone’s calling my name, and I have the horrible thought that maybe I am hearing voices, like that guy in the movie about the beautiful mind.
Not liking that possibility, I decide it’s a prank. “Having fun?” I mutter as I spin a slow circle and end up facing the street again.
The crossing guard’s gone. There’s no one else around. Except—
There’s a girl, a little girl. She’s squatting in the road in the middle of the crosswalk. Doing what? Picking something up? I expect her to stand up and move along, and when she doesn’t, wariness shoots through me.
A memory hits: me walking across that same crosswalk when I was a kid, and my mother waiting on the far side of the street with a hug and a cookie. I hit back, burying the image because it hurts too much to think about it. Pain’s one of the two things I do still feel with a razored edge. Anger’s the other. Everything else is muted and distant, like I know I ought to feel things even when I don’t.
Right now, I choose anger instead of pain. That little girl shouldn’t be there. Someone should have picked her up after school.
Her head’s bowed, and she doesn’t look up when I yell, “Hey,” and again, louder, “Hey!”
There’s something familiar about her….
Crap. She’s Janice Harper’s little sister. She’s deaf. And Janice isn’t here to get her because she’s in detention.
The words reverberate in my thoughts, but I’m already moving before the unseen boy finishes barking the order. Because there’s a truck—old, rusted, going too fast, just moving into the blind curve, picking up speed and weaving side to side. The driver’s head is down; there’s a phone in his hand. I can’t be sure, but I think he’s texting.
My heart slams against my ribs.
I don’t think. I just run. My feet hit the ground, but I feel dull, sluggish, like I’m running through waist-deep water and everything in the world—including me—has slowed down to a crawl except that truck.
I’m too far away.
Faster. I need to move faster.
The truck is coming out of the curve now, doing at least double the speed limit, music blaring from the open windows.
I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, my throat already raw. The kid can’t hear me. She can’t hear me.
I run full tilt, chest heaving, terror driving me. And something else. All the anger and fear and grief I’ve been bottling up for two years bubbles to the surface, finding its release in the slim hope that I can control the outcome here, that I can reach her in time.
I’m at the sidewalk now. A single leap carries me over the grass and the curb onto the road.
My shadow falls across the girl and she looks up, her eyes going wide and her mouth rounding a perfect little O. She starts to rise. There’s a terrible shriek of tires on asphalt as the driver sees us and hits the brakes. The truck skids sideways to come at us broadside.
I dive, hands outstretched. My palms connect with the girl’s chest, and I shove her as hard as I can.
She goes flying back with a cry.
I see everything with abnormally sharp clarity, like a series of perfect snapshots capturing each millisecond. I see the girl. I see her tears. I see the blur of motion from the corner of my eye as my friends run along the sidewalk toward us. And someone else shooting past them…Luka.
I see the truck spinning again to come at me head-on—so close I can make out the chunks of rust on the grill—and the pavement, flat and gray, coming up to meet me. I hit hard and slide along the rough surface, layers of cloth and skin scraping away.
There’s the endless screech of the brakes and the smell of burning rubber. My head jerks up and I try to scramble out of the way. I can’t find my footing.
Terror clogs my throat.
Then there’s a hand on my arm, tight as a vise, yanking me to my feet.
He pulls. I pull. Opposite directions. Our dance is all wrong.
The truck slams us both.
I shouldn’t be able to define each sensation, each event. But I can. I double over forward with the force of the blow. Then I’m lifted. I’m flying. Screaming. Until I hit the ground and my breath is forced out in an obscene rush.
There’s no pain. Not yet. Only shock and the cold knife of my fear.
Sound hurts my ears. My name. People are screaming my name, over and over. I want to tell them I’m okay, but my mouth won’t work, and I have no breath to lend sound to my words.
Turning my head, I see the little girl standing at the side of the road, her face streaked with tears. My friends are standing beside her, screaming, pushing at the air. I don’t understand what they’re trying to do. The roaring in my ears drowns out whatever they’re saying.
The lights flicker like someone flipped a switch, except we’re outside and there’s no switch to flip. Everything goes dark. Then light again. The truck’s right in front of me, the rusted chrome bumper stained red, like finger paint or smears of cherry juice.
I turn my head to the opposite side and see Luka, his body twisted and broken, a puddle of blood forming beneath him on the road. His eyes are open. They’re dark blue, bright and clear as an arctic lake. Like mine. I never noticed that before; I thought his eyes were brown. His lips move. I can’t hear, but I think he’s saying, “Okay.”
He’s wrong. This definitely is not okay.
I look down and feel a sort of distant horror as I see a body that is mine but not mine. My limbs are bent at odd angles. Shards of bone poke out through my skin. When I try to move, I realize that I feel no pain because I feelnothing. Nothing at all. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t move anything but my head.
I’m broken, like Luka. Broken and bloody.
The thought feels hazy, as though it ought to mean more to me than it does.
I smell cotton candy and cookies. I smell metal and raw steak.
Then I hear it again. The screaming. But it’s far away, growing fainter. It fades until I hear only the sound of my own heartbeat, growing ever slower. Slower.
Stay still. Let it pass, the boy says in my head.
Sounds like a plan.
I wait for the next heartbeat, but it doesn’t come.
The Game 1 | Young Adult
The Game Series
For readers of The Hunger Games and Divergent, Rush follows in a similar new tradition, with electric high-action scenes, a world in peril (this time, by the threat of aliens), and amorphous morality in a broken society, though with a little less emotional heft. The brazenness that makes Miki nearly barely likeable at the opening of the book morphs into bravery, giving her the makings of a true hero.
—The Globe and Mail
Silver has produced a taut, exciting YA debut with believable dialogue, enticing characters, and a cliffhanger ending that will have readers waiting impatiently for the series’ next instalment.
—Quill & Quire, starred review
The battle scenes are visceral and taut. The intricate, multilayered plot is inventive…Mind candy for those teen readers who love the thrill of the game.
Whether teens read this for the romance or the science fiction, they’ll finish eager for the second installment of the Game series.
—Erin Downey Howerton, Booklist
Smart and original, Rush is an action-packed ride with plenty of heart.
—Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Rush is different from most YA offerings today, making it all the more exciting…you’ll fall head over heels in love. Miki and Jackson are the real highlight: Miki is realistic, brave and loyal and the mysterious Jackson will keep readers entranced. The addictive plot, fresh setting and amazing characters create a novel you’ll stay up late to finish.
Within one chapter, I found myself hooked. The stakes are high, the action is consistent, and there is never too much revealed at once; Silver has a wonderful talent with suspense. . . . Rush is the first book in a series that promises to get better as the plot thickens and the stakes increase (and hopefully, as more about the game is revealed.). Silver writes with a deft hand, constructing a realistic but still alien world which she controls with great skill. Highly Recommended.
RUSH is an intense, pulse-pounding thrill-ride with a strong heroine, cute boys, and scary monsters—you need to read this book!
—Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author
RUSH is the perfect title for Eve Silver’s fantastic YA debut. A RUSH of excitement, a RUSH of danger, of action, of romance, of hot boys with dark secrets. I loved it!
—Michelle Rowen, national bestselling author
RUSH is a thrill ride of a read with hot guys, aliens, and LOTS of action. Perfect for gamers AND romantics.
—Amy Christine Parker, author of Gated