Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Twins born with abilities beyond normal skills and talents. A connection that spans a continent and across the reaches of time. Roger and Dodger have a gift of language and mathematics, respectively. They were adopted and placed in families on either side of the United States (Palo Alto and Cambridge), and at a certain age they found they were able to communicate with each other and see out of the other’s eyes. While Roger was reading Shakespeare at age 5 and Dodger was computing high-level calculus at 6, there were few friends to be found, but they always have each other, a “call” away. You may not be able to call it sibling rivalry exactly, yet there are times when the brother and sister do not get along and communication is broken and they have to develop on their own.

Orchestrating this experiment is James Reed, a man who is descended from a distinct line of alchemy and wants to use the twins as a source of great power, immortality and beyond. He gives them reign to develop their abilities to maturity on their own and uses his henchwoman Leigh at various times to help them on the desired path. Reed and Leigh are a wicked pair and are more than ready to take out anyone who gets in their way to their goal of perfection. Several other pairs of twins are being created and tested to ensure the odds are always in the favor, but they keep going back to these two who may show the greatest potential.

Roger and Dodger’s story starts at the origins of youth, the discovery of latent talents, and proceeds through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. The first half of the book is that, a growing up, but the tale shifts and the second half really turns out to be an all-out battle. While the pacing does ebb and flow, it’s McGuire’s phenomenal writing that holds it all together. A spot-on metaphor or turn of phrase can be found on most every page. The characters are experiences that can be seen walking down the street next to you. They are real and in your face, and stuck in an experiment with their lives, and maybe more, on the line.

Two Notes:  1. The epigraphs are well-placed and important. 2. Loved the Bay Area setting. I knew many of the places the characters visited.

Middlegame is a book that turns a madman’s experiment into story of developing individuals and lifetime companions.

4 out of 5 stars.

Releases on May 7th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.


23 thoughts on “Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

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  1. Great review as always. I am 100 pages into this story and I find it slower going that I would expect from a Seanan McGuire book. The language is lovely, but it doesn’t seem to be picking up yet. I am hopeful it will soon. The twin thing is such a cool narrative. I am not sure where her character is going, but I love that Dodger was written with an aptitude for math. I find that either woman/girls are written with aptitudes for the “softer” subjects and writers tend to stay away from the more analytical ones or the characters are written with a heavy hand. Those characters should be almost apologetic for having a love of math and science. Not so in this case. Dodger is just unapologetically dodger. I find that really wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read Every Heart a Doorway and liked it. Didn’t love it, just because I was in a funk from reading too many “school” books in too short a time.
      Middlegame is very interesting, some great concepts are explored.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Wayward Children series is one of the most poignant she’s written: if you don’t like the school element, I can recommend both “Down Among the Sticks and Bones” and “In an Absent Dream” – you might change your mind about these novels… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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