Middlegame
Middlegame
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Annotation: Roger and Dodger don't realize that they aren't exactly human. Reed, their creator, is skilled in the alchemical arts. His plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, then ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Catalog Number: #194694
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: TOR Books
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 528 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-250-19552-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-250-19552-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019285075
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
In an ambitious piece of world building from a master of the craft, children are created to embody fundamental forces of the universe. Roger is gifted in language, Dodger in math. There are alchemical forces at work man named Reed, heir to a great alchemist, is continuing in her footsteps, searching for something called the Impossible City, along the Improbable Road. The narrative becomes ever more complicated and shifting as we follow Roger and Dodger through their childhoods and into young adulthood, as they find each other and lose each other and learn the facts surrounding their strange abilities. One of the things McGuire (In an Absent Dream, 2019) does best is construct the foundations of fantastic worlds. So when she reveals that Oz (among other familiar fantasies) was part of a battle for alchemical supremacy, it makes perfect sense. Despite the careering, looping nature of the story line, the threads of these children finding their places in the world are thoroughly engaging. For all that this is a stand-alone, it contains enough potential for a series and certainly warrants, possibly demands, rereads.
Kirkus Reviews
The product of a long-running alchemical experiment, twins Roger and Dodger struggle to understand their unique circumstances and gain control over them.In the late 19th century, ambitious young alchemist Asphodel Baker tried to rewrite reality to create a better world. She set in motion a long-range plan to incarnate the alchemical Doctrine of Ethos, encoding her scheme in a series of children's books destined to become classics. In the present day, the considerably more ruthless James Reed, who is her creation and her killer, breeds twins designed to each incarnate half of the Doctrine; once they have fully matured, united, and manifested as "the living force that holds the universe together," he will seize their power to control everything. Failed experiments are terminated. Roger Middleton, brilliant with languages, develops a strange telepathic connection with Dodger Cheswich, a math genius living across the country from him. Despite all of Reed's brutal and covert efforts to keep the pair apart so their abilities will flower fully, they cannot help re-encountering each other and then separating in the wake of tragedy. Their attempts to avoid becoming one of Reed's failures force them to draw upon their more arcane powers: Roger can persuade people—and reality itself—to bend to his wishes, while Dodger can actually reverse time back to a certain fixed point. With the help of Erin, the living incarnation of Order, they must craft the timeline that allows them to survive long enough to realize their potential. Books that include magic range across a spectrum that puts rules-based, logical magic on one end and serendipitous magic with no obvious cause or structure on the other. This book falls intriguingly far on the logic end; with its experiments and protocols, it redefines what is typically meant by science fantasy. If there's a flaw in McGuire's (That Ain't Witchcraft, 2019, etc.) gripping story, it's that it isn't clear how Reed could really gain complete control over the Doctrine long term, nor why Reed's followers actually believe that he would cede any of the Doctrine's power were he to gain it.Satisfying on all levels of the reading experience: thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral. Escape to Witch Mountain for grown-ups.
Publishers Weekly
McGuire (the Wayward Children series) puts a genuinely innovative spin on the magical child horror novel in this mesmerizing story of two gifted, telepathic children and the unsettling source of their powers. Massachusetts seven-year-old Roger Middleton is struggling with his multiplication worksheet when a girl-s voice pops into his head and gives him the answers. Dodger Cheswich, his mental correspondent, lives in California, and Roger is soon able to reciprocate her assistance when she shares that her academic struggles are with reading and spelling. Roger has an intuitive connection with words that-s as strong as Dodger-s with numbers. As their relationship develops, the two remain unaware that they are pawns in a larger game initiated by James Reed, the son of Victorian alchemist Asphodel Baker; Reed and Baker aspire to create human incarnations of Pythagoras-s Doctrine of Ethos, which concerns humanity-s ability to command nature. As Roger and Dodger grow up and explore their more terrifying abilities, their investigation into their origins puts them in danger. Heightening the tension is a prologue set -five minutes too late- and -thirty seconds from the end of the world,- in which Dodger is bleeding to death as Roger takes desperate measures to save her. Shifts and alterations in timelines demand close attention from readers, but McGuire-s rigorous plotting pulls everything together by the end. This is a fascinating novel by an author of consummate skill. (May)

School Library Journal Starred Review
This epic sci-fi adventure will grab fans of Doctor Who and Blade Runner . Twins Roger and Dodger were genetically manufactured in a lab so that their psychotic creator, Reed, who is also genetically manufactured, could unlock godlike powers. The twins are separated and raised on opposite ends of the country. Despite the distance, they are linked and nothing will stop them from connecting with each other. The plot is intricate yet fast paced, with classic sci-fi elements such as genetic engineering, psychic links, alternate dimensions, and time loops. The book follows the protagonists through elementary to graduate school, and teens will readily identify with the characters' thoughts and actions. VERDICT An excellent recommendation for those who enjoyed Lev Grossman's The Magicians and Lauren Oliver's Replica . Melanie Leivers, Palm Beach Country Library System, FL
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
The product of a long-running alchemical experiment, twins Roger and Dodger struggle to understand their unique circumstances and gain control over them.In the late 19th century, ambitious young alchemist Asphodel Baker tried to rewrite reality to create a better world. She set in motion a long-range plan to incarnate the alchemical Doctrine of Ethos, encoding her scheme in a series of children's books destined to become classics. In the present day, the considerably more ruthless James Reed, who is her creation and her killer, breeds twins designed to each incarnate half of the Doctrine; once they have fully matured, united, and manifested as "the living force that holds the universe together," he will seize their power to control everything. Failed experiments are terminated. Roger Middleton, brilliant with languages, develops a strange telepathic connection with Dodger Cheswich, a math genius living across the country from him. Despite all of Reed's brutal and covert efforts to keep the pair apart so their abilities will flower fully, they cannot help re-encountering each other and then separating in the wake of tragedy. Their attempts to avoid becoming one of Reed's failures force them to draw upon their more arcane powers: Roger can persuade people—and reality itself—to bend to his wishes, while Dodger can actually reverse time back to a certain fixed point. With the help of Erin, the living incarnation of Order, they must craft the timeline that allows them to survive long enough to realize their potential. Books that include magic range across a spectrum that puts rules-based, logical magic on one end and serendipitous magic with no obvious cause or structure on the other. This book falls intriguingly far on the logic end; with its experiments and protocols, it redefines what is typically meant by science fantasy. If there's a flaw in McGuire's (That Ain't Witchcraft, 2019, etc.) gripping story, it's that it isn't clear how Reed could really gain complete control over the Doctrine long term, nor why Reed's followers actually believe that he would cede any of the Doctrine's power were he to gain it.Satisfying on all levels of the reading experience: thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral. Escape to Witch Mountain for grown-ups.
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9+

New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame . 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. Roger and Dodger aren't exactly human, though they don't realise it. They aren't exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. 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. Named as one of Paste Magazine 's 30 Best Fanatsy Novels of the Decade


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