Tuesday, April 15, 2014

G272 Book Review of Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates

Name of Book: Black Chalk

Author: Christopher J Yates

ISBN: 978-1-84655-728-6

Publisher: Random House UK

Type of book: Game, suspense, friendship, college, tests, dares, isolation, drugs, revenge, 1990s, group, secret society

Year it was published: 2013


A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.


For some odd reason I had trouble differentiating characters, or at least recalling the function and major of Mark. (Was he the sleepy guy Physics guy?) But anyway, here goes: Jolyon is best described as sort of a golden boy who is well liked, popular, handsome and knowledgeable, while Chad seems to have self-esteem problems and has a complex. There is also Jack who is supposed to be the a history major and a comedian and often gets on Dee's nerves. There's Emilia who is blond and is there just to be there I think. (I recall she has problems with the way miners are treated,) and Dee whose real name is Cassandra but they call her that because she is determined to write 500 poems (Roman numeral D) and then kill herself. I honestly liked Dee out of all the characters.


Be careful who you share your secrets with


The book has two points of view: when it takes place in present time, its written in first person narrative from a mysterious male that was part of the game, but it had a negative impact on him, while the other is in third person narrative from either Jolyon's or Chad's points of views. I get the feeling that this is one of the books that should be read twice instead of only once. Lack of details towards certain matters really distracted me from enjoying the story, and its only in the last part of the book do I finally learn how creepy the story becomes.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.
For more information on Christopher, please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.

When I accepted the book, from the summary I seriously thought it would be similar to a favorite Japanese drama of mine titled Liar Game. But while Liar Game keeps me on my toes and throws unexpected sucker punches, this book doesn't do that, although the story is interesting, I feel that it needs more work: the idea itself is interesting, but I often felt that we literally went from point A to point B without dealing with the why it happened the way it did. I was more concerned with small details: for example, there is a hermit who seems to suffer from agoraphobia and while the reader does learn who he is and why he suffers from it, I often wondered how he came into possession of money and how he can afford to feed himself as well as liquor and other items? Also, how does the game work? I mean the basic rules instead of it just being very vague as well as a bigger role of the mysterious Game Soc (And why they chose to share their information with a specific character when the winner wasn't clear yet.)

This is for TLC Book Tour


Monday, March 31st:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, April 1st:  My Shelf Confessions
Tuesday, April 1st:  Books and Movies
Wednesday, April 2nd:  Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, April 3rd:  Joyfully Retired
Thursday, April 3rd:  Bibliotica
Friday, April 4th:  Not in Jersey
Monday, April 7th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, April 7th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 8th:  Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, April 9th:  Reading Reality
Thursday, April 10th:  Read. Write. Repeat.
Friday, April 11th:  Book Journey
Monday, April 14th:  Book Dilettante
Monday, April 14th:  Daily Mayo
Tuesday, April 15th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, April 16th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, April 17th:  October Country
Friday, April 18th:  Daily Mayo – author interview
Monday, April 21st:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Redheaded Book Child
Wednesday, April 23rd:  Sarah’s Book Shelves
Thursday, April 24th:  My Bookshelf
Friday, April 25th:  Between the Covers
Thursday, May 1st:  Books a la Mode
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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