Official Review: Tag by John Collings

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Scerakor
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Official Review: Tag by John Collings

Post by Scerakor » 04 May 2017, 12:51

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Tag" by John Collings.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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If someone were to ask me, at a very high level, what this book is about, I would be honestly forced to answer that this book is about a game of tag between a large group of kids. Now, if you were to read that first sentence and walk away from this review, you would miss out on the fact that at a deeper level, it is about much more than just a simple childhood game. Tag: A Cautionary Tale by John Collings is a book about the human psyche, a metaphor for life, a creative tale of the “invention” of many of the classic childrens' games we love, and a witty banter between a curmudgeon and a sassy little girl.

The book is presented to the reader in two different time-periods and perspectives. The first, is of an old man who is recounting to a sassy young girl the exploits of his youth. He tries to explain to her the significance of the location they are in and how everything got to be as she sees it now. The other perspective is the story that the old man is telling the girl. In interweaving chapters, he tells part of the story and, in-between each episode, little Lizzie comments on the foolishness and ignorance of the characters in the old man’s tale. The story itself tells the tale of a group of children who accidentally invented the game of tag. Starting off with two simple rules everyone is running around and having fun. These kids quickly see opportunities to improve the game and begin to make additional rules. Although the intent is to make the game more fun for everyone, as more and more rules are invented, something is lost. The group dissolves into factions and chaos ensues.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. When you first start reading it, it comes off as a modest tale about a man who is reminiscing about the good old days that were his childhood. The book begins extremely simply (albeit very proficiently written) and comes off as suggestive of a simpler time of fun-loving innocence. What I liked most about this book, however, is that after a few chapters pass, the genius of this story comes out in droves. Like an onion, once you rip off the outer layer that is the simple childhood game, you are rewarded with layer after layer of sub-text. There is the (still light-hearted) suggestion that this group of kids not only “invented” the game of tag, but in the process of doing so, also “invented” many other childhood games we know and love. There is the witty banter between the naïvety of the old man and the sassy, but not exactly wrong, little Lizzie. This banter reeks of a battle between the super-ego and the id. There is a dark and foreboding layer that outlines how low humanity can stoop simply by imposing rule after rule upon its occupants. This layer is eerily redolent of books like Animal Farm or, even more so, Lord of the Flies. Finally, there is also that silent warning layer that screams how difficult (if not impossible) it is to pull out the deeply rooted traditions, prejudices, conventions, and preconceptions that are littered throughout our society. It shows how, despite being pestilential to our very existence, it is extremely difficult to change how we think and feel once we have an idea in our head and are willing to fight for it.

There are only a couple of small things that I disliked about this book. The first has to deal with the day-to-day lives of these kids. The massive amount of time that these kids spend playing this game and the lack of consequences for certain things that happen in this book is potentially unrealistic. The last item, and what I disliked the most, was a part of the ending. The ending came at a logical time and everything that needed to be discussed was said, but it simply feels like something was missing. Perhaps an additional section is necessary to outline what happened after the conclusion of Chapter 21. That being said, I really don’t think that these issues significantly detract from the overall enjoyment of this book

Without any reluctance whatsoever, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. John Collings has produced an expertly and very intelligently written book that can easily act as a cornerstone of literature to be taught in schools alongside some of the classics. It not only tells a fun story, but also throws open the blinds to the dark and littered landscape of humanity’s collective psyche. I fully recommend this book to anyone that is interested in reading stories that are simple at first glance, but ripe with allegorical undertones. If you aren’t a fan of books that try to tell a story in the sub-text as well as what is actually written, this likely isn’t for you.

******
Tag
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Amagine
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Post by Amagine » 05 May 2017, 05:38

I'm a huge YA fan and this book sounds like one I absolutely want to read. I love how the book seems like a simple book about children creating a game, but it is so much more than that. This is a book that explores life and the human conscious. It's also an entertaining read because of the witty characters. I really enjoyed reading this review and I'm sure I'm going to love the story!

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Post by Scerakor » 05 May 2017, 06:00

Amagine wrote:I'm a huge YA fan and this book sounds like one I absolutely want to read. I love how the book seems like a simple book about children creating a game, but it is so much more than that. This is a book that explores life and the human conscious. It's also an entertaining read because of the witty characters. I really enjoyed reading this review and I'm sure I'm going to love the story!

Great Review! ?
That is one point that I didn't get a chance to throw into the review. The author and amazon classify this as Young Adult, and I really can see what. That being said, it comes off just as easily as a book for anyone and those that don't really gravitate towards YA should not be discouraged by the classification. Thanks for the comment.

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Post by MarisaRose » 05 May 2017, 06:59

This is such an interesting concept! You did a great job explaining the complexity of the seemingly basic premise. I can honestly say I've never read anything like this and I'm intrigued. I tend to shy away from YA novels because I don't always find them that stimulating - but this one sounds unique! I really enjoyed this review :)
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Post by kandscreeley » 05 May 2017, 07:29

I love this concept as well. I think it takes a great writer to create such a complex tale around a game of tag. How interesting and inventive! Thanks.
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Scerakor
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Post by Scerakor » 05 May 2017, 08:05

MarisaRose wrote:This is such an interesting concept! You did a great job explaining the complexity of the seemingly basic premise. I can honestly say I've never read anything like this and I'm intrigued. I tend to shy away from YA novels because I don't always find them that stimulating - but this one sounds unique! I really enjoyed this review :)
And I keep realizing that I didn't mention that in the review. I usually shy away from "YA" categorizations as well but this didn't have the traditional YA feel that I dislike. What I tend to dislike about YA is the "distraught teenager finding oneself saves the world" aspects. This, although is fairly simple and can be geared as a book to be analysed by that age group (think Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, etc) it is perfectly enjoyable for all ages. Thanks for the comment.

-- 05 May 2017, 09:06 --
kandscreeley wrote:I love this concept as well. I think it takes a great writer to create such a complex tale around a game of tag. How interesting and inventive! Thanks.
That really is the magic of it. Take something that we all take for granted, something as simple as tag, and make a full-blown novel that is actually interesting to read!

Thanks for the comment.

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Post by Jaime Lync » 05 May 2017, 10:46

Awesome review! This book sounds awesome as well. I think I have experienced what you said about the ending with many books. I think when we love a book so much we are not really happy that we are finished and want just a tad more.

Scerakor
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Post by Scerakor » 05 May 2017, 13:12

Jaime Lync wrote:Awesome review! This book sounds awesome as well. I think I have experienced what you said about the ending with many books. I think when we love a book so much we are not really happy that we are finished and want just a tad more.
You know, that is the best explanation I have ever heard about having that sinking feeling at the end of the book that something is missing.

Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Kitkat3 » 12 May 2017, 00:29

I love this concept. It sounds like a very difficult writing device to properly execute, but it was successful. What a talented author! I'm putting this in my to read. Great review!

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Post by Gunnar Ohberg » 06 Dec 2017, 18:35

I really, really, really like how this book sounds. What a clever and inventive and unique idea for a story. Thank you for the review!

Sidenote: I'd like to start a drinking game where I take a shot every time you refer to a girl as "sassy."

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Post by CalHull » 10 Jan 2018, 20:40

This seems like such an original concept, I’m intrigued to see for myself how something so simple can work. I’m going to make this the next thing I read.
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Post by julessawyer » 09 Jul 2018, 11:54

The plot was very creative. The use of game of tag to spin an entire novel was great. Your review was well written. :)

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Post by SpencerVo » 06 Jan 2019, 11:13

Tag sounds like a great book with many layers of meaning which will delight patient readers. This is also one of the most well-written and insightful reviews I've ever read on this site, so well done for that!
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