The Game Weavers by Rebecca Zahabi – REVIEW

Seo is Twine’s youth champion.

We are in a darker Britain and the national sport is not football but Twine, a game where weavers craft creatures from their fingertips to wage battle against others in vast arenas, watched by thousands.

But we are living in intolerant times and Seo harbours a secret. When he is outed as gay by the media, Seo cannot use his magic to save him.

With the help of his brother Minjun and Jack, the man he can’t quite decide if he loves or not, Seo has to fight to get his life back on track whilst facing the biggest match of his career.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zuntold Books.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Content Warning: homophobia, outing, homophobic violence, conversion therapy, and homophobic slurs.

“Twiners are put away in containers, like things, not people.”

Set in a not-very-distant future where a conservative backlash has eroded LGBTQIA+ rights even further, The Game Weavers is an engaging novel following Twine World Youth Champion Seo after he’s outed as gay. There is prevalent and unchecked homophobia throughout society and this hatred is quite sickening to read at times. It’s a much darker novel than I expected and will definitely make you angry more than once but it’s worth persevering with if you can.

“Most jokes around Kuroaku are sexual and linked to his age. Most jokes around Woolfe are sexual and linked to her gender.”

Twine itself was an interesting magic system and I haven’t read anything quite like it. The main premise of Twine is to weave creatures from magic and compete with them against other players in arena combat. The battles were tense and brutal, especially the final showdown, which had me on the edge of my seat thanks to its fast pace and the descriptive language. Twine has many similarities with football and online gaming, especially it’s legacy of toxic masculinity and misogyny, and I loved how the author used Seo and the reigning female champion Woolfe to highlight this.

“If being gay is an addiction, what am I? The nicotine patch? Planning on giving me up as soon as you feel strong enough?”

Seo was a fascinating main character and it was heartbreaking to witness his self-hatred, shame and fear about being gay. Seo is outed as gay in the first chapter via a tabloid and, like in football today, the homophobia makes it easy to see why players refrain from disclosing their sexuality.

Alongside this exploration of homophobia, the author also touches on racism as Seo is adopted from Korea because of his Twine abilities. All the issues are handled sensitively and the characters are never fetishised. The main draw for me though was the core sibling relationship between Seo and his younger brother Minjun which anchored the novel. Overall, I’d highly recommend The Game Weavers if you’re looking for a thought-provoking novel.

(Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon UK | Hive)

 

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