The Believing Game
After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.
But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.
My immediate impression of Joshua was that this man is freaking cuckoo bananas! He doesn’t do anything particularly strange at first. In fact, he presents himself as a very nice man, but some of the things he says are unsettling. It’s clear from the very beginning that something is not quite right about Joshua, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. It’s actually scary how he has the ability to twist what people are saying, but in a way that still makes perfect sense and makes them question themselves. It’s easy to see how he’s able to draw people to him. I also feel like this is how cults get started.
This is by no means an action packed book. I’d classify The Believing Game as a subtle psychological thriller, and I think it would probably make a good movie. Joshua is extremely charismatic, and is able to get his way in every situation. There’s this uneasy feeling in the background from the moment we meet him, but there are absolutely no clues as to what he’s up to. I think this makes the story even creepier (not in a monster with a chain saw jumping out from behind a bush scary way).
About halfway through, The Believing Game started to feel like The Waiting Game. I was waiting for Greer to start finding out the truth about Joshua. It comes little by little, and a bit too slowly for my liking. However, the situation does get really strange really fast, so I kept flipping pages. Dinosaurs, Jesus, and pig blood! Oh my! Yeah, it’s weird. There’s no big reveal, and the dramatic ending isn’t very dramatic. I wanted to know why Joshua ended up doing what he did, and more of the effect it had on the teens. The ending was a little unsatisfying, and that epilogue was really unnecessary. Overall, it was an interesting read though.