by David Klass
Summary: Freshman Daniel hasn't really found his place at school. He doesn't seem to fit in anywhere and just tries to fly under the radar. A mediocre player on the team's prestigious chess club, Daniel is surprised to be asked by the two senior co-captains to join them and their fathers at a weekend father-son tournament. To his further amazement, Daniel then learns the truth. His father - a reserved, accountant - was actually a chess prodigy at the age of 16 and earned the ranking of Grandmaster. When his father agrees to return to the game 30 years later and accompany Daniel to the tournament, the six man team is in for a weekend none of them expected.
Thoughts: Grandmaster is a fast-paced, compelling novel that keeps the reader engaged like a spy thriller or intense sports match. I am not a chess player, and I was completely on the edge of my seat during the tournament scenes. The book includes enough chess to satisfy those who do play, but not too much to overwhelm the novice or non-player. What keeps the story captivating is the characters. They are interesting, flawed and believable. Main character Daniel is a likeable kid, and readers can relate to his desire to fit in at school. His father is also an interesting character as he faces his past demons and reveals his former life to his son. I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between these two as Daniel learns more about his father and starts to reorder his priorities. I also liked the addition of Liu, a spunky girl who competes with her mother. She brings out a different side of Daniel and adds some pluck and humor to the story. If you see Grandmaster and expect it to be a boring book about chess, you would be grandly mistaken.
Read Grandmaster if you ...
- like chess
- don't like chess
- enjoy sports fiction with front-row-feeling scenes that pull you into the action and keep you on the edge of your seat
- look for young adult literature with interesting teen and adult characters