“Life is all about numbers in my time.”
Title: The Voting Game
Author: Peter Gulgowski
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publication: Self-published, 6 March 2018
Read: April 2018
In the year 2084, Every Interaction Counts.
Darrius Young’s sixteenth birthday brings a harsh reality: It’s time to join the Voting Game. Playing is mandatory and each day may be his last.
In this bleak future’s society, citizens rate their interactions with one another. Highest scorers are members of an elite upper class. An average score means you can keep playing.
Fall below average? You are taken and killed by the government entity known only as The Bureau.
Darrius has prepared his whole life for this challenge, knowing the reality he will soon face — especially after the death of his mother to the game.
But despite preparation, he’s losing — and not just the Game. Suddenly the people he loves are getting brutally downvoted and taken by the Bureau. It’s soon clear there’s a target on his back, drawn there by the Bureau itself. And Darrius has no idea why.
In a frantic race against time against a society that’s already sentenced him to death, can Darrius save himself and those around him before it’s too late?
– My Thoughts –
Hello, lovelies! I’m here today with a review of The Voting Game blog tour! You can check the hashtag #TheVotingGamePH on Twitter for more posts related to the blog tour!
First of all, I want to thank the author Peter Gulgowski and Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch for organizing this blog tour. This girl seriously has no chill! This is her 3rd blog tour this year and there’s still one coming on the last week of April and I’m participating in that one, too!
Just so you know, the hardest part about writing this review (aside from trying to contain all the feels), is trying to fit in all the passages and quotes I wanted to include. I originally had 3 pages worth of them before I started writing and for someone who really loves book quotes, you could easily see why I really liked The Voting Game so much!
No longer will I just be Darrius Young. At midnight tonight, I’ll be Darrius Young, with a rating of God-knows-what.
In Darrius’ present, you rate people like you rate apps and places today. On your 16th birthday, you enter the game whether you like or not. You are given a clicker, which you will use to rate other people; and your own score will be displayed on your forearm courtesy of a receiver implanted on you on your first month in the world. Fall below a score of 2.5 (out of five) and it’s game over for you.
I can use it for good, or I can use it as a weapon. A 1.0 rating may as well be a shot through the head. I’ve heard stories of people who get lowered to 2.7 and already put a pistol in their mouths knowing how close they are to the end.
I think this is one of the scariest dystopian futures I’ve read. Sure, we’ve read about districts and factions but people in those futures are born into their classes and more or less stay in them for the rest of their lives. But imagine a future where every day could be your last. One where one wrong move could mean the end of your life. I mean, just piss off the wrong group of people, enough to lower your score, and you’re done.
On to happier stuff, I love the relationships in this book!
Darrius’s mother is a victim of the game, gone for a few years now. He and his younger sister Jada only have their father to take care of them. The Youngs are as chill as a family can get and have a great sense of humor! It makes me want to crawl my way into their family, except that I don’t want to get caught in a conflict with the government — much less with the president himself.
When Darrius and his dad were looking back on the time he came out, his dad is all sweet about it.
“You’re not pushing anything. I love you. I love Jacob. The moment you came out to me, nothing changed. I thought everything had, but you were still you. You’d always been you. We just were more honest. I feel like I got to see a new layer — like an onion.”
“I hate onions,” I say.
“It’s an analogy. Grow up and don’t interrupt me right now. I’m trying to be nice.”
“I thought everything changed, but the only thing that came out of that conversation was a stronger relationship with my child. All a father can hope for is that.”
Also, cooking more pancakes than you asked for is probably up there among the top most wanted traits of fathers of all time, agree?
Darrius and Jada’s relationship is also the kind of brother-sister relationship anyone would like to have. I mean, I do because my brother and I just fight 90% of the time. Though Jada is younger than Darrius, they both look out for each other.
“I can’t imagine what’s going through your head, Darrius. But whatever I can do to help. Even if it just means talking to me when stuff gets tough, all you have to do is ask. I know you think it’s your job to be the older brother and all, but it’s okay to need someone to lean on once in a while.”
She also has a great sense of humor and an aura of glee that she brings everywhere she goes.
She smiles a little. “Can I see your arm?”
“Oh, yeah,” I say slightly surprised.
I pull back my long-sleeve shirt and reveal my forearm. Contrasting against my deep brown skin, the number 4.0 glows a faint blue.
“Forget needing a nightlight,” Jada says. “Just use your arm to light the way to the bathroom at night.”
I laugh. “Only you, Jada. Only you.”
Jada is one of my favorites and after THAT ending, I am more eager than ever to find out how she will handle everything. Actually, as of writing, the author already confirmed that we’ll be seeing more Jada in the second book! *faints*
I. NEED. THAT. SECOND. BOOK. NOW!!!
There’s also Darrius’s boyfriend Jacob. They started out as friends and one day, they just saw each other. It’s the cutest thing ever. Although they’re already together at the start of the book, the idea that they’re friends that became lovers warms my heart. Which is totally great, at least my heart wasn’t cold when Peter broke it. *cries internally*
Jacob and I met at school as kids. We’ve had debates lasting well over an hour on who saw who first. I claim it was me, but he claims it was him. Either way, one of us saw the other — as most relationships work — and that was it.
And this quote from Jacob gave me major FitzSimmons feels.
“To me, I’d travel light-years without even going into cryosleep if I wouldn’t die before reaching you.”
Darrius also has a great set of friends in Elodie and Hunter. They were there for him when things went south for a time. And clearly, Darrius trusts them with his life — or Jada’s.
We also see part of Darrius’s struggles as a member of the LGBT community, receiving judgment even from people he least expected. And I think he and Jacob handled the confrontation the best way possible. *C’mon guys, let’s all hug Darrius, he’ll most definitely need it.*
Okay, back to the game.
“Of course. Society was messed-up, selfish, rude to strangers, and all that, so people liked the idea of this rating system. They didn’t realize the intent behind it, and even when they heard it, Wright brainwashed them to think they were doing their part in cleansing society. Half of the country is as messed-up as he is.”
While The Voting Game is set in a dystopian future, I cannot deny how similar it is to our today’s society. Sure, we don’t have clickers and receivers here but we may as well have because even though it is the government who imposed their setting, the people are the ones creating classes between themselves while feeling superior over those that have lower ratings than them.
“I — I don’t know what you want me to say? Bullshit you and let you find out the world sucks for yourself? It’s always been this way — the rich get taken care of, while the rest of us try to stay alive. We’re just doing it in a new way. Either way, some things just don’t change.”
Over the years, people learned to stick together and avoid interaction outside their own range. It’s the only way they can think of to survive. Like how these days, the poor stay poor and the rich just get richer by the day.
And like today, criticizing and going against the system will definitely put a target on your back. Only this time, instead of bullets, expect a lot of 1.0s coming your way.
Our leader is a sadistic, merciless killer and right now, he’s winning this battle in our heads.
But I think there’s more to the game than a sick president trying to “cleanse” the society — a sick first family, maybe?
THIS BOOK IS… UGH.
It will have you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the end. Although, honestly, I think you’ll be sitting on the floor when you finally finish reading.
It will throw you mysteries that you think you can solve but — tadaaa — you’re wrong and there’s a whole different level of mystery underneath that layer you just peeled off.
It has characters that will grow close to your heart but thanks to the universe, they live in a society where their arms are turned into ticking countdown timers when they turn sixteen. The trick to this is to love the ones who are younger than sixteen, so LET’S ALL GIVE JADA SOME LOVE FOLKS.
It will make you forget all your scheduled chores because all you’d want to do is make it to the ending as soon as possible. Don’t look at me, I finished all my laundry two days ago albeit almost a week late.
It will significantly ruin your sleep cycle because you won’t be able to sleep well trying to finish it and that ending will not let you sleep for the days that follow.
It will make you need a support a group, and badly. Good thing we’ve created one so after you read it, don’t forget to hit me up or any other tour participants here so we can all hug each other and share theories and all.
It will make you stare into the void for a good five minutes after closing the book and then you will realize
WOW THAT IS ONE HECK OF A ROLLER COASTER RIDE OF THRILL AND FEELS
I WANT MOOOORE!!!
– Quotes –
I guess this is what it took to create an ideal society. One where everyone played a part in putting their best foot forward. It’s sad it took this to make this the truth.
We’re never ready to grow up. We just do. It simply happens. And as much as we try to fight it; to push back, time always wins every battle. Everything will change. Everything.
All things are meant to happen, sooner or later. Fate has a funny way of wriggling its way into our lives one way or another — for better or for worse. Fighting this off, like some enemy in battle, is like a grain of sand trying to defy gravity within an hour-glass. Some things are simply meant to be.
In my time on the sidelines, I’ve seen that those who seem weak are taken out the quickest.
Of course. People have always been fake to other people, but now it’s life or death, so they really have a good reason.
We didn’t change ever. We just came out when we did, and that was that. You only knew one Jacob and one of me. There isn’t two or more. We were always this way. We just don’t hide this minor fact.
I think the main thing is that we always think about the life we don’t have. When we’re kids, we can’t wait to grow up. Then, when we get there — when we grow up — we want to go back. It’s the basic human thought-process. We want what we don’t have. Clicker or no clicker. We knew what to expect, but we still wanted to be adults and run our own lives. Now that we’re here, I kind of want to go back.
I’d rather get twenty years to live, then get one-hundred to pretend.
I’ve always had a love affair with night. There is something about the beauty of simple light reflections. Each surface casts a refraction of light, and each one adds up into a much larger picture. It’s like a metaphor for life and the individuality among us.
Just because they’re gay doesn’t mean they’re a match made in heaven. That’d be like saying a guy is perfect for you as soon as we found out he was straight.
For three months, I felt like I was on a never-ending walk to a destination of which I didn’t know the distance or even which direction. I feel that now I at least have a semi-functional compass that points me in the general direction. Let’s just say, I’m a work in progress.
No matter how long time passes between a death and now — when someone mentions a name or a certain memory, the name of a favorite fragrance, those feelings we push down, flatten, and stuff away into some shadowy corner of our brains — those feelings have a way of shooting right back out, with great strength, as though they’ve been attached to a sling-shot that’s been trembling with angst since being loaded.
– About the Author –
Peter Gulgowski was born and raised in a suburb in Wisconsin. He began writing at the age of fourteen during a study hall session in which he had already finished his homework. Several years later, his debut novel, The Government, would become published. Mr. Gulgowski remains a student, with hopes of becoming a full-time writer.
Inspired by authors such as J.K. Rowling, John Green, Veronica Roth, and so many others, Gulgowski hopes one day to join their ranks in inspiring the next generation of storytellers.
His latest novel, ‘The Voting Game’ became the #1 New Release in Teen & Young Adult LGBT Issues Fiction and is his fourth bestselling book. Currently, he is working on several new novels to be released later in 2018.
– Blog Tour Schedule –
09 April (Monday)
- The Voting Game blog tour launch from Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch
- Review from Charvi @ Not Just Fiction
- Review and feature post from Allie @ The Hufflepuff Nerdette
- Review from Tyv @ The Youngvamp’s Haven
10 April (Tuesday)
- Review and playlist from Belle @ Belle’s Archive
- Excerpt from Vee @ My Reading List
- Review from Jodie @ forthenovellovers
11 April (Wednesday)
12 April (Thursday)
- Review from Cara @ The Little Miss Bookworm (That’s me!!!)
- Review from Rose @ Wanders Between Pages
- Review from Rambling of a Book Nerd
13 April (Friday)
- Feature post from Kate @ The Backwards Bookshelf
- Review from Kate @ The Backwards Bookshelf
- Review from Naadhira @ Legenbooksdary
- Review from BookMyHart
14 April (Saturday)
- Author interview with Peter Gulgowski
– Giveaway –
For the giveaway, multiple winners will be drawn. 1 winner will receive a paperback copy of The Voting Game (US residents only), and 5 winners will receive a digital copy of the book (international residents).