Readers of David P. Philip’s latest novel, A Game for the Young, are in for a treat. It is a multidimensional text; considering scientific discovery and the issue of ethics in experimentation, as well as delving into the personal lives of its characters and exploring their darkest secrets.

Set with the idyllic backdrop of Oxford University, a site of tradition and steeped in academic excellence, A Game for the Young charts the experiences of four young students as they embark on a scientific experiment that will change their worlds forever.

They are all connected through their desire to pursue the highest level of knowledge, but when this dream is taken to the next level by a professor with a dark secret, they find themselves facing a challenge that forces them to make the toughest decisions, and sacrifices, of their lives.

The novel is initially a slow burner, concentrating on building up a detailed picture of the main characters and shielding them and the reader from the truth about the experiment; but this allows the reader to develop a strong emotional connection with these characters and this alignment becomes incredibly powerful as the story unfolds.

The concepts of knowledge and power are explored in depth, with the reader able to draw conclusions, along with the students, about the potential dangers of making the ability to absorb all information readily available. The idea seems incredible and entirely positive; but what could such knowledge do in the wrong hands and what would happen to institutions like Oxford University if we were all able to simply “plug in” and learn? Philips also considers memory and its importance in the development of an individual – take that away from us and what do we have?

Packed full of thought-provoking ideas, daring night-time information raids and enough secrets to fill a dozen spy novels, A Game for the Young is deep, insightful and incredibly clever. Science enthusiasts will enjoy its focus on research and experimentation, but there is something for all readers in this novel. The twists and turns are sharp, unexpected and thrilling and will draw the reader in until the final, gripping line.

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David P. Philip

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