Book - 2019
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"Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He's not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn't attained." -- Goodreads.com
Publisher: New York : Tom Doherty Associates, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781250195524
Branch Call Number: FIC/MCGUIRE
Characteristics: 528 pages ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Middle game


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Jul 25, 2020

I hate horror novels and was uncertain after seeing people say it was partially horror. I still read it, and while there is a lot of violence and descriptions of gore and stuff, nothing is too over the top where my weak, queasy, little tummy starts filing return policies on yesterday's lunch.

I had no idea what was going on most of the time with all the talk about the Doctrine of Ethos and The Impossible City and "Manifest"-ing or whatever. Super confusing book, I can barely describe the plot.

I still loved it.

Jun 18, 2020

This is going to be one of those books you're SO lost reading when it comes to plot, but it's okay because Seanan will take your hand and guide you to an ending that will make about as much sense as it can be expected to. I had been intending to read something by Seanan McGuire (or Mira Grant, another pen name of hers) for a while now and while Middlegame wasn't what I expected my first book of hers to be, I'm so glad I picked it up!

While it's impossible to get into the plot while still remaining sensical and avoiding spoilers, let's just say this book will reel you in. It struck the perfect balance of maintaining a complexity that required me to follow things closely while also giving me enough information to keep me completely interested. At no point did I feel like things were lagging or forced; this book was perfectly set-up and perfectly paced and I'm so impressed by it.

In order to balance out a largely confusing plot, the characters and their relationship were so, so endearing. We start off during Roger and Dodger's childhood and I was impressed to find that Seanan was able to write them in a way that felt realistic without feeling immature or irritating, which I often find to be the case with younger POVs. They both felt like such truly real people and it was wonderful watching their growth.

Overall, I just found this to be such a satisfying read and wouldn't be surprised if my 4.5 tips over to a 5, depending on how well it sticks to me. I'd definitely recommend this to lovers of sf/f.

content warnings: attempted suicide, graphic descriptions of blood/gore/death

Apr 10, 2020

This reminds of the hefty, mystical young adult fiction I devoured in my youth. Like the protagonists, I fancied myself an alienated, 'too smart' kid--and I would have loved the expansive depictions of college life. Twenty years later, this novel was disappointing. The teasing method of presenting the magical/alchemical through quotes, the book-within-a-book excerpts, brief interludes of the evil-doers doings lost steam half way through the book. By then, it just seemed like a young adult novel centered on the trifecta of identity/love/abandonment sprinkled with some fantastical world-making. Even with the last quarter's plot solidly set in the fantasy, this wasn't a satisfying read for me. If only I could call myself in 1996...

Mar 12, 2020

recommended by TOR - Loved it. Amazing book.

Feb 24, 2020

This book wasn't for me. It seems to be more Sci Fi than fantasy. It was dark and slow moving and was hard to follow with so many references to the doctrine of ethos (I read the whole book and I still don't know what it is) and a book that hasn't even been released yet (Over the Woodward Wall). I finished the book feeling a little depressed and confused and wish I would have chosen a different book to read instead.

forbesrachel Jan 05, 2020

Language and math. Science and alchemy. Boy and Girl. This is a book about finding the middle ground in more ways than one. Roger and Dodger were created. They don't know it, but their lives have been manipulated to serve the purposes of others. All they know is that they have a strange connection with one another that allows them to communicate with each other, and see through the other's eyes. As children, they never meet, but become best friends. Throughout their lives they come together and become separated despite their bond though. Overcoming these traumas, as well as others, become defining moments for them, sometimes breaking them, or setting them on a wrong path. Their powers though, allow them to reset, starting at an earlier point in their timeline. They are the Doctrine of Ethos split into two and it is only by finding the middle ground between universal principle and human that they stand a chance. McGuire's multi-timeline plot doesn't jump around much, rather sticking to a fairly linear path that refers to past failures. This helps as the alchemist jargon usually requires some pondering. The symbolic folktale running in parallel, provides some good context, meaning it is not necessary to fully understand all the esoteric aspects though. Measures like these show what a superb writer the author is. Characters develop and learn, the plot is full of thematic material to explore, and the whole is balanced with engaging and thought-provoking moments.

Dec 02, 2019

This book was sufficiently creepy and fantastic. Not only answering what might you do if you could rewrite time, but also examines the questionable practice of tailored breeding and DNA manipulation all within a touching story of brother and sister.

JCLHeatherC Nov 25, 2019

Fantastic stand alone fantasy read.

Nov 04, 2019

This book is fantastic.

PimaLib_ChristineR May 28, 2019

Middlegame is the urban fantasy you never knew you always needed. Middlegame begins with "Book VII: The End....Failure. Timeline: Five Minutes Too Late, Thirty Seconds From the End of the World" and we are introduced to Roger and Dodger. Dodger is bleeding out from a gunshot wound. It isn't clear where they are or why. And suddenly we are back in 1886 at the beginning of the story.

It begins with an alchemist creating a man, a la Frankenstein. This monster, aka James Reed will go on to create multiple sets of twins, one pair of which will embody the "Doctrine of Ethos," a perfect combination of the purely rational and the purely emotional, which under his control will allow him to control reality. Roger and Dodger are one set of those twins, sent out into the world, on separate coasts of the US as adopted children. Children who unknowingly have the minions of Reed watching their every move.

While the story is primarily about Roger and Dodger as they grow up, the story is anything but typical. I found McGuire's sheer inventiveness and brilliant story craft awe-inspiring. In an adult fantasy world of endless knockoffs, here is something purely original and meticulously crafted. Like Furyborn, the timeline is key to the story.

McGuire pulls from so many sources, both fictional and real. I've never had to look up so many references while reading fiction. And I mean that in a positive way. The story pulls from our known world--Twain and Baum--and integrates it into a world of alchemy that is secretly maneuvering our world. Who knew The Wizard of Oz was put out by a member of the old boys' club of alchemists out there to try and disrupt the work of a female alchemist? McGuire uses the power of belief as an influence on alchemy in the real world, and after reading this story I can believe it is true.


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Apr 07, 2020

“You can't skip to the end of the story just because you're tired of being in the middle. You'd never survive.”

Apr 07, 2020

“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one's looking, and words don't leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That's what makes them so powerful. That's what makes them so important.
That's what makes them hurt so much.”


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