Recently a writer friend (Pavarti K Tyler) loaned me her copy of Glenda Adams’ GAMES OF THE STRONG. It’s a 1989 novel about a young woman named Neila who lives in a future dystopia where a central city government called the Complex has control over surrounding lands. The Complex government applies fear, force, and a steady stream of propaganda to keep everyone in line. Neila has been hired to write propaganda pieces for the government, but she is a resister who wants to bring down the Complex and see freedom returned to people’s lives, but it is extremely difficult to know who to trust as there are spies everywhere, and resistance could mean death, or arrest and imprisonment on an island where life is worse than execution.
Pavarti said that this book is like an early draft of THE HUNGER GAMES, though the games in GAMES OF THE STRONG are really mental rather than physical. Neila faces constant emotional and psychological pressure trying to figure out who is a resister, who is not, and how to manage her own resistance efforts in the midst of all of it. Neila is often wrong in her assessment of people’s agendas and her errors push her further and further to the brink of despair. In Adams’ writing, her struggle is deeply felt and the penultimate lines hit you like a ton of bricks.
This is one of those novels that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it, a testament to excellent endings, and probably why Pavarti remembers it over 20 years after it was first published. The book is now out of print, but if you can find a copy of it, you won’t be disappointed.