Book Review: The Diver’s Game by Jesse Ball

The Divers' Game: A Novel: Ball, Jesse: 9780062676108: Books

Title: The Diver’s Game

Author: Jesse Ball

Genre: Science Fiction

Number of Pages: 240

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

I had mixed feelings about this book. I like Jesse Ball’s books because they’re so different from anything else I’ve read, but this novel was pretty confusing. It takes place in a intriguing dystopian society where convicts and immigrants are kept in ghettos and have their thumbs removed, as well as having their faces tattooed. The upper-class citizens keep gas masks and containers of chemicals by their side and they can legally gas the untouchables as they see fit. The first part of the book is about two girls who go on a trip with their professor, and one of them ends up getting lost.

This ends rather inconclusively, and then there are three more interconnected stories- one about a boy who is being questioned about the disappearance of his playmate, one about a child given a symbolic role in a bizarre festival, and one told in the form of a woman’s suicide note. The last part kind of comes full circle because the dead woman is the wife of the professor in the first part.

I appreciated that this wasn’t your usual dystopian novel, because I’m always on lookout for dystopian books that don’t feel derivative. There wasn’t a lot of character development but there were some striking images and scenes that were simultaneously absurd and nightmarish. I liked a lot of Jesse Ball’s ideas even if they didn’t necessarily mesh coherently. The suicide letter chapter was the most powerful and did the best job of conveying the message of the novel.

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