The Vatican Games
Clink Street, January 2020
From the publisher—
Vera is born on the day an apocalyptic revenge is unleashed, annihilating half of the world’s population.
Her birth marks the beginning of a new world order run by powerful gaming corporations.
A warless existence with no poverty has been secured, until this fine balance becomes once more under threat.
Vera is the female David to beat Goliath and prevent further devastation.
The future lies in her hands. It’s a game that she needs to win.
What an unusual story this is! There are certain things that set it apart from most apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian tales—Vera is born just as the worldwide terrorist attack happens, she survives a deadly brain defect, the setting is in Vatican City, etc.—but, taken as a whole, they create the beginnings of something unexpected. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it and I suspect this is one of those books that has to sort of rumble around in my mind for a while.
To this semi-luddite, it’s appalling to think of the gaming industry being in charge of the world but this kind of story is supposed to be unsettling, isn’t it? Speaking of unsettling, Ms. Guibert is very adept at dropping little crumbs here and there that make you think, “Wait a minute…oh” starting with how hunger no longer exists.
Carry on as usual…urged people to carry on with life in the midst of death. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, but in The Vatican Games, a diabolical attack by unknown terrorists, first against the US, then spreading around the world, is the cause of the overwhelming devastation. It’s followed by a self-justified US military retaliation against the Middle East and then a counterattack on Israel, resulting eventually in incredible loss of life as well as economic disintegration. As might be expected, though, ruling bodies around the world soon collaborate to form a world government but, in reality, this is the story of Vera and her mother, Alina, and Vera’s life after another tragic event.
So much happens in this story that I think the pacing was a bit too slow but it’s a compelling tale of the condition of our world and where it could be heading. Food for thought, indeed.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.