Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Not gonna lie, had the soundtrack for the musical Chess popping up in my head through this whole book. However, if you're not a fan of ABBA, or musicals, don't let my mental musical accompaniment deter you from David Klass's Grandmaster.

Daniel Pratzer is a freshman at a school where the cool kids play chess (and are also athletic).  When the All-Star Seniors invite him to a father-son tournament in New York, he's a bit confused, since he's not the best player.  He finds out that thirty years ago, when his father was a teenager, he was one of the best players in America.  However, the stresses and pressures of the game drove him to give it up completely.  What else will Daniel discover about his father over a weekend full of new friends, old rivalries, and the oldest game of war?

First, how could you not love this cover?  I kind of want it as a poster.

I...was actually on the chess team in high school.  For about 10 days.  I was horrible- I don't have a mind for strategy games (I killed it in Academic Decathlon, though!)  I think I typically lost my King within 10 moves.  It WAS cool to watch those who were serious about it, though- studying moves and all. Grandmaster was very interesting in that aspect- it took a game (sport?) that is generally viewed as boring, and gave it new life.  When one remembers that it's based on war, it's an interesting perspective.

It is wonderfully written- there were times I felt like an observer in a totally new environment.  Kind of like my first time at C2E2.  I don't know how to describe it..."I am so out of my element, but this is so cool in a non-traditional kind of way, and I want to keep watching and being a part of it."

It was interesting to learn more about the darker side of Chess- the mental and emotional drain it can be on a person (and especially young Chess prodigies).  There was definitely a sadness to some of the characters' stories.

On a happier note, though, I loved Daniel's family.  Seeing his relationship with his father develop over the weekend was great, and I especially loved his rapport with his mother.  There are friendships, rivalries, romantic interests, but at its core: father and son.  It's definitely a story of relationships and overcoming things for your family.

I'd recommend this book to middle-grade and YA readers; the subject matter is gender-neutral, but I think would definitely catch guys (competitions and all).  Also, anyone who is interested in chess and its history, and those who enjoy reading about child prodigies.

Grandmaster is published by Macmillan Children's. Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 02.25.2014

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