Thursday, April 6, 2017

Throwback Titles (1): The Quillan Games, or, The One Where Pre-Hunger Games + Clowns = Eesh

The Quillan Games by D.J. Machale
Pages: 486
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 16th, 2006
Cover Comments: Pretty straightforward cover. Nothing to write home about, but it does reflect the plot, and how Bobby has grown a lot and really needs a haircut.
First Lines: "I like to play games."


Quillan is a territory on the verge of destruction. The people have lost control of their own future and must struggle simply to survive. The only chance they have of finding a better life is by playing the Quillan Games. Hosted by a strange pair of game masters, Veego and LaBerge, the games are a mix of sport and combat. They use the people of Quillan as pawns for their amusement as they force them to enter competitions that range from physical battles, to impossible obstacle courses, to computer-driven tests of agility. To triumph in the games is to live the life of a king. To lose is to die.

This is the dangerous and deadly situation Bobby Pendragon finds on Quillan. He quickly realizes that the only way to save this troubled territory is to beat Veego and LaBerge at their own games and dismantle their horrible fun house. But there is more at stake for Bobby. The prize for winning the Quillan Games may be discovering the truth of what it really means a Traveler.

Throwback titles are books that I've been meaning to read for a very, very long time, but have just now gotten around to it. In other words, it's that book you picked up in middle school that may have been a little bit above your reading level, and also happened to have 14 sequels. And what do you, a rational adult do now that you've realized that you stopped a mere five books from finishing the series? Continue, of course.

That's most of my stories, but I consider a throwback title to be any book 5 or more years old. Let's clear these babies out of to-be-reads and remind people of their favorite 2005 novel! I'll be posting a throwback title every Thursday (naturally). Please join in the fun by adding to the linky below and adding my graphic (or one of yours, as long as it links back here) above to your post!

The Quillan Games: Throwing it Back to 2006

"There are two types of people in this world. People who hate clowns...and clowns."

^ I identify very strongly with this quote.

Also, let's just get it out of the way right now that I've been pronouncing the title of this book "The Killin Games" and it's given me a lot more giggles than it probably should.

This is the 7th book in D.J. Machale's Pendragon series, which revolves around Bobby Pendragon, the Traveler from Second Earth (there are three Earths cause we're just the most important territory obviously). Bobby has spent the last three years or so traveling through the ten territories of Halla, which comprise all of time and space. The big bad in this series is Saint Dane, a demon traveler who wants to bring all of Halla into chaos so he can rule over it himself. But don't worry, he's doing it all for the best.
I remember beginning this series when I was around 13 - we were on a vacation to Disneyworld and all I really wanted to do was sit on the patio and read The Merchant of Death. What a dork. Now, 10 years later, on a beautiful weekend, all I wanted to do was finish The Quillan Games (heh. Killin). What's really obvious to me, reading this after The Hunger Games was published, is the striking similarities between the two. This book was published in 2006, while The Hunger Games came out in 2008, but it's a bit uncanny how many ties there are between the two.

On this territory, Quillan, a huge corporation owns pretty much everything and everyone, and forces people to compete in games in order to survive or have enough food to eat. The games are publicized, and the only source of entertainment for the people. Of course, their darker purpose is to keep the people under control and distracted. Bobby is a challenger in the games, and rebels from the territory want him to be a symbol of hope for the rebellion, even calling him "a tribute" to the people of Quillan. "We want a symbol. A spark. It doesn't have to be huge, but it must be stirring." So, yeah. D.J. Machale did it first, y'all.

I found this installation in the Pendragon series pretty thrilling and intriguing, but I do think a good 100 pages could have been cut out, and none would have been worse for the wear. The books are all written in the form of a journal from Bobby to his friends back home on Second Earth, which means lots of recap and introspection opportunities, and the author makes heavy usage of these. MacHale does great with the action scenes, but his writing tends to be a bit choppy, i.e. "At least I thought it was a wall. It sure felt like one. It was hard. It was flat. It stretched out on either side of me. You know... wall." When the action is going, you don't notice the choppiness as much, but it's really evident with the amount of downtime in this book.

Saint Dane is always a great villain, and I think it's because of his persuasive powers. He really has a way of making Bobby and the other travelers question their purpose and what the "right thing" is to do. He reminds me of an intellectual, but evil genius - the things he says make complete sense, but when you actually look a little deeper, it's just fancy words on top of violence and greed. There's a pretty big betrayal in this book on account of Saint Dane's power to manipulate.

I do wish that there had been more secrets revealed about the nature of the travelers themselves in this book. It was hinted and teased at, but no new information really appeared, which is a shame. I've been wanting to know what happened with Bobby's family since the first book, but we're still no closer to discovering the dealio. This book does a great job at setting up for the next one though, and there are some great storylines I can see forming up ahead. I may have started this series 10 years ago, but I won't be taking that long to finish them. They're thrilling, action-packed, and are finally beginning to mature enough to where I don't feel embarrassed reading them in the privacy of my home.



  1. Wow, who knew?? An inspiration for The Hunger games, perhaps? Ha ha this sounds kinda fun. And I'm not a clown person... just saying. :)

    1. I would never have suspected a nice guy like you to be a clown person hah! And I know, it almost can't be coincidental how similar this was. Although there's also the Battle Royale book that came out before this book and the Hunger Games.