In the fifth installment of the Sandman series, A Game of You, the story follows Barbie (introduced briefly in The Doll’s House). Since her first appearance, she and Ken broke up, and, left to her own devices, Barbie moved to New York, to find herself. She lives in an apartment building with Foxglove and Hazel, Wanda the transsexual, unassuming George, and soy milk-loving Thessaly. Barbie’s adventures with Rose Walker and the dream-vortex incident have somehow impeded Barbie’s ability to dream, and thus “The Land” (the realm she used to go to in her dreams) is on the verge of collapse, about to be overwhelmed by the antagonistic Cuckoo. One night, George, unleashes the forces of the Cuckoo (evil birds that live in his chest…yeah…that happened…) on Barbie and her building-mates, in an effort to corrupt their dreams. Thessaly, the seemingly shy and nerdy one proves to be a bit of a psycho-killer, killing the bird and George without hesitation or remorse (she’s SO cool through, the epitome of badass-ness). Thessaly, seeking revenge against the Cuckoo, transports herself and Fox and Hazel into Rose’s dream-world, leaving Wanda to care for Rose in her coma-like dream state.
When compared to typical ancient-witchcraft-being-incorporated-into-modern-situations plotlines go, this piece was good. As far as Neil Gaiman’s stuff goes…it was…meh. The plotline was definitely readable, but nothing that really sucks the reader into the action. Truly, the best aspect of this book was the characters; I kept reading because I wanted to know how Thessaly wound up, and because Wanda was pretty awesome. But amidst a plot with too many character deaths, and too few appearances by Death herself, this is not a standout issue. Furthermore, as the name may suggest, A Game of You is about the fragility of one’s identity, but the theme is over done and too blatantly incorporated into the story that it comes off as preachy.
A Game of You hasn’t turned me off to the entire series by any means, I’ll definitely keep reading because Neil Gaiman’s writing was been beautiful until now, but this is my least favourite book so far. The theme was too in-your-face, and left no room for the reader to think or interpret it for themselves. Two of the new characters, Thessaly and Wanda were entertaining stand-outs because of their general awesomeness, everybody’s had a day where they feel like Thessaly. And although this book was, in fact, good, it fell short of Gaiman’s usual greatness.