Observing others takes patience and can yield insights, good or bad, into a person. Being observed, however, can foster feelings of paranoia. In Asa Avdic’s The Dying Game the stakes are high in a test centered upon observing.
In Sweden in 2037, a test is being conducted to find the best candidate for a sensitive position within the intelligence community. Anna Francis finds herself not a candidate but a hidden observer of the candidates, whose job it is to observe how they react to her “murder” and report back after 48 hours. When one of the candidates happens to be a former coworker, Henry Falls, whom Anna can’t help but think about, her mind starts to go into overdrive to figure out what game might be playing out for them all. As candidates start disappearing from the secluded clifftop house where the test is being conducted, Anna is worried that someone is actually killing people, driving her into action that goes against her orders and changing the game in an unforeseeable way.
While the ultimate outcome of this not overly outlandish premise was utterly predictable, I found that the way in which it was written was relatively compelling and certainly made for an incredibly quick read. There was little background to develop how the world got to the moderately dystopian stage it did or other details to invoke deeper investment in the story, which was confusing and would have helped to strengthen the narrative. The mental games played on Anna were fascinating, if disturbing, and demonstrate the drastic means taken in political and governmental circles to secure a desired end, no matter what the cost might be.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.