Book Review: The Game by Jack London

I read The Game by Jack London for the same reasons I’ve read so many other free “Kindle Classics” books. It was short, free, and by an author whom I’ve previously read and thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve probably read it four or five times. Like Anthem, it doesn’t take long to read—maybe an hour or two. Like The Road, it paints a picture that is clear, beautiful, and shocking.

It would seem that this tale is set around the turn of the century, though I’ve done no research to confirm this. But there is no mention of The Great War, which I’d imagine there would be if he’d wanted to set a concurrent or post-war timeline. Perhaps there was no reference to outside events to create a more timeless story. Regardless, I love it.

Genevieve meets Joe in the candy shop where she works. Both are instantly smitten with each other. After dancing around their shyness, they begin to “walk out” together, strolling in public parks and talking, or even just sitting in an amicable silence. They fall in love, plan to be married, and have a wonderful life together.

What she doesn’t know until after she’s fallen for him, is that he’s a famous boxer. The Game has him, and it doesn’t want to let him go. He is torn between his love of boxing, and his love of his lady. He eventually agrees to give up boxing, promising that his next title match will be his last. They’ll be married the next day after his final bout.

She’s curious, though. She wants to know what it is about this sport that calls to him, that drives the spectators mad. She wants to see him fight. Joe disguises her as a man and sneaks her into the club where the match will be. Hiding in a dressing room and watching through a peephole in the wall, Genevieve watches her soon-to-be-husband get the bejeezes knocked out of him. But then he begins to rally.

London does not give us a blow by blow of the entire fight, but he does give us the highlights. As a reader, an author, and someone who used to study kickboxing, I was delighted by what I felt was the perfect balance of describing the fight itself as well as the rollercoaster of emotions Genevieve was going through. He manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seat as Joe seems to be losing, then winning again. London shows us well the rage of Ponta, Joe’s opponent, at the lack of support for him from the audience. We are made to constantly wonder—can Joe possibly win?

Have you read The Game? What did you think of it?