I have received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I finished this book days ago, but I keep thinking about it. It definitely left an everlasting impression on me and I now need a physical copy on my shelf.
Middlegame is the story of two kids, Dodger and Roger. One day, when they’re both eight years old, they find out that they can communicate with each other without phones or actually being physically present – via quantum entanglement, they can speak to one another on the other side of the country and see what the others see. Almost – but not quite – feel what the other feels. Which, for Dodger, is the best thing that could have happened – she is a math genius, but otherwise hopeless when it comes to making friends, spelling and being normal. Roger is sweet tempered and has a love for language, finding in Dodger a great, daring friend. But they don’t know where they come from – they’re both born on the same day, have the same eyes, both are adopted… could they be twins? Could they be… not human at all?
This is such a cool book, I love the premise! This is no spoiler, right at the beginning you find out that the two are actually not human, but created by a Frankenstein-monster-like alchemist called Reed, who is keen on continuing the work of the alchemist-turned-writer who created him from dead bodies. Creepy? Yes. Cool? HELL YES. There are several sets of twins like Roger and Dodger, and Reed wants to make in them the flesh embodiment of the Doctrine of Ethos – math and language, which control the universe. The Math twin could have the power of controlling time, while the Word twin has the power of controlling… everything. And Reed wants those children to answer to him – so you see how definitely nothing can go wrong with this plan.
This fantasy novel sometimes feel low-key like sci-fi, due to the time travel elements (not much of it, just enough to make it interesting!) and the fact that Dodger is a Math nerd. So if you like fantasy and you have a friend who likes sci-fi, I think both would enjoy this book! Neither is the science part too heavy, nor the fantasy elements too fantastical.
Middlegame is a slow-burn, which I didn’t mind at all – you watch the twins grow and find out their powers little by little, get scared by it, cause tragedy – it’s so good. My only complaint is that, because it’s slowly building to the climax, a lot of the information is simply thrown at Roger and Dodger in three pages – all the alchemy stuff, all the names of people who have been in a political game for the power they could create, all the things that are at stake… it felt a bit sudden.
Otherwise, I loved this book. It’s dark and interesting, and there is something about it that just felt so instant-classic. It left such a strong impression on me and it’s made it to my favorite adult fantasies for sure!