Game Theory

Barry Jonsberg

Game Theory
Allen & Unwin
25 May 2016

Game Theory

Barry Jonsberg

Game theory has brought me to this point and I must follow where it leads. Even though this is not a game.

Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high.

When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble - big trouble. And when Jamie’s younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear.

Jamie thinks he can use game theory - the strategy of predicting an opponent’s actions - to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister’s life at risk?

A brilliant, page-turning novel from a superb storyteller.


I’m always up for a young-adult murder-mystery and, having enjoyed some of Barry Jonsberg’s past novels, I was keen to see how Jonsberg tackled the crime genre for teens. 

Jamie is a maths whiz and spends his time working on homework, chatting to his video-game obsessed friend and making up stories for his youngest sister. Oh, and keeping out of the way of his increasingly out-of-control older sister. That is, until his oldest sister, Summerlee, comes to him for help in choosing lottery numbers based on game theory, a strategy that aims to predict the actions of other people in order to have the upper hand.

But when Summerlee wins 7.5-million dollars she cuts ties with her family and broadcasts the win to the world which leads to the kidnapping of Jamie’s youngest sister, Phoebe, for a ransom of two million dollars. With the cops on the case, Jamie thinks all will be ok, until the kidnapper makes contact with him, leaving Jamie to decide what he is going to do. Does he go to the cops with news the kidnapper has contacted him, or does he apply game theory and try to guess the kidnapper’s moves in a bid to outsmart them, potentially risking Phoebe’s life and the chance of ever seeing her again?

Game Theory is a fun page-turner which saw me suspecting everyone at different stages of the book. It’s fast paced and captivating with a believable scenario and characters that make you hope for a positive outcome. It made for an enjoyable read, and trying to guess who might be behind the deed made me finish the book in a day and a half. Readers who enjoy a bit of a whodunnit will enjoy the guessing game that Jonsberg has created.

Ages 13 and up.

Katherine Dretzke

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