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Run the Game
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Run the Game

3.5 19
by Jason Myers

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In this gritty novel from the author of Exit Here and Dead End, love is a high-priced and dangerous game: Play or be played.

Alexander didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met Patti. She’s the kind of girl you hear about in songs: gorgeous, feisty, and dangerous. Being with Patti is better than any high, and he


In this gritty novel from the author of Exit Here and Dead End, love is a high-priced and dangerous game: Play or be played.

Alexander didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met Patti. She’s the kind of girl you hear about in songs: gorgeous, feisty, and dangerous. Being with Patti is better than any high, and he can’t live without her.
But Alexander’s not the only one who wants to be with Patti. Burke ruthlessly takes what he wants and will kill to protect what is his. And he won’t let Patti go without a fight. If Patti and Alexander are going to be together, their love will come at a steep price. Because some promises are meant to be broken, and not all debts can be paid in cash….

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Valerie Burleigh
Alexander has made many choices, many of the wrong ones. His days are filled with getting high and doing what it takes to survive. When he befriends a girl years younger, Patti, he feels a spark of humanity and hopes that maybe life can get better. The glimpse into Alexander's mind and daily life is truly heartbreaking as he goes from hit to hit, without ever making an actual break from the sordid world in which he lives. Selling himself for that next hit changes him in ways he could not predict or imagine, and even the hope of true love cannot save him in the end. Written in Myers's gritty style with very graphic descriptions, this story does not camouflage the world of drug abuse, child prostitution, and hopelessness found in many cities today. While we get glimpses of what has caused much of Alexander's despair, we never fully understand his hurt and rage until he is able to exact revenge. In the end, we hope that Alexander and Patti will begin life anew, but as the title states, it has been a game all along. Reviewer: Valerie Burleigh
School Library Journal
Gr 11 Up—When 19-year-old Alexander Franklin meets 14-year-old prostitute "Patti Smith" at the A-Lot in broken-down Beaver Falls, it's love at first sight. He can't live without her, and neither can the town's drug lord Burke, which makes being with her extremely dangerous. The story begins when Alexander sees Patti for the first time, and what follows are more than 500 pages of their drug-and-alcohol-soaked love affair. He spends most of his days shooting heroin, having graphic sex, playing guitar in a band with his friends, and obsessing about Patti. However, there are powerful people who don't want them to be together, and the consequences of their intense romance are tragic. Most of the characters are flat and one-dimensional archetypes. There are sparks of sympathetic moments hidden in the text, but not enough to really flesh out Alexander as a person. The ending leaves readers with a dark message. The over-the-top, extremely explicit sexual content, drug use, and profanity feel as if they are included more for shock value than as devices to further the plot. Teens looking for gritty reads with substantial characters would do better with novels by Ellen Hopkins or Walter Dean Myers.—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Northampton Community College, Hawley, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A 19-year-old junkie with delusions of grandeur falls for a 14-year-old prostitute in this poor approximation of a Chuck Palahniuk novel. Drug addict and punk guitarist Alexander spends his days in a depressed Midwestern town drinking enough alcohol and smoking and shooting enough drugs to put down a bull elephant. Still, he manages to show up to band practice on time and woo Patti, a mullet-headed, song-writing Lolita whose motives are suspect from page one. Alexander believes that he and Patti will run away to New York and live druggily ever after. But after Patti's drug dealer/pimp threatens to chop off his limbs with a chain saw and leave him to "these four rabid badgers that I keep… in a shack," he has second thoughts. It's written like a bad rap song; readers will have four-letter-word fatigue within the first 20 pages--and there are still nearly 500 to go. The characters are flat, the constant drug use gratuitous and the graphic, occasionally violent sex scenes pornographic. By the time the author commits the cardinal sin of plugging one of his own previous titles within the text, readers will be too numb to care. Teens looking for gritty content are better off checking out the award-winning work of Adam Rapp or Ellen Hopkins. Dreadful. (Fiction. 16 & up)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


THE FIRST TIME I SEE HER, SHE’S ON ONE KNEE, TYING her shoe in the A-Lot, next to a lamppost, and I’m stepping out of this guy’s car with thirty dollars in all fives. He says something while I do this, but I don’t pay it any mind and he drives away.

The girl looks up at me and smiles.

She’s supercute and shit.

I stuff the cash in my pocket.

She’s wearing a jean skirt with a Blondie patch, a yellow-and-blue paint-splattered shirt with the sleeves cut off, and black Chuck Taylors with no socks, the shoelaces obviously untied, but she’s getting them there.

This is the order I always take people in.




She has oily black hair that’s cut into a she-mullet with two lines shaved into the right side of her head. She’s got freckles and decent-sized tits and a slim waist from what I can tell. It’s late in the summer but she’s pretty pale, just like I am, and her eyes are big and brown.

She stands up as I’m lighting a Pall Mall 100, and I notice that her knees are scuffed red.


“You got one of those for me, man?” she asks, her voice low and raspy, like she’s been drinking and smoking for years, even though she only looks maybe sixteen.

“Sure,” I answer, sliding out a second one and handing it to her.

“Give me a light, too, please?”

“Yeah.” I hold the lighter to the end of her cigarette. “What are you doing out here anyway?”

“Enjoying this amazing weather.”

I make a face. “Huh?”

“Come on, man. I just got dropped off, like you.”

“Shit,” I say, tucking the smokes and lighter back into the pocket of my sleeveless red-and-black-plaid shirt. “How old are you?”

“Why do you care?”

“I don’t really. You just look a little young to be doing what you’re doing.”

She shrugs and rolls her eyes. “And you look a little too much like a boy who digs chicks to be doing what you’re doing.”

“I need the money,” I say.

“That bad you need the money?”

I glance quickly at the track marks on my arms then back to her. “That bad,” I go.

“I see.”


“Is that heroin you shoot into them holes?” she asks.


She laughs. “Kinda, dude?”

“It’s mostly straight coke, sometimes speedballs. Those are my poisons.”

“That shit will make you go crazy.”

I take a drag and exhale. “Fucking life will make you go crazy. This just makes it more interesting.”

She grins and smoke flows out of her nostrils. “I get it.”

“So how old are you?”

“How old do you think I am?”


She shakes her head. “Wrong.”

“Higher or lower?”

She turns her thumb down.

“Fifteen,” I say.

“Wrong again, man.”


She nods.

“Jesus,” I say. “Ain’t you—”

She cuts me off. “Ain’t I what?” she snorts.

“Ain’t you really superyoung to be kicking it around the A-Lot?”

“Not the way I see it,” she answers.

“And how’s that?” I ask.

“Walk with me.” She smiles, winks, then tilts her head to the side. “Come on, now. I don’t bite on the first meeting.”

• • •

We walk back toward the center of town. The sidewalk is cracked and weeds are growing everywhere. It’s muggy and the sun is shining into our faces, making us both squint.

I curse myself for not bringing my shades. Take a drag. “So tell me, then. . . .”

“How I see it?” she asks.


“I love fucking and I love sucking dick. So why not get paid to do what I love more than anything in the world besides buying clothes and records?”

“So you do this because you like to?”

“Yessir.” She’s smiling big. “I do it because I like to fuck dudes and sometimes bitches, and the money gets me the records and clothes.”


My eyes become fixated on her. A surge of rage, jealousy, and passion slams through me like a tornado, and I want her for some reason. I want her so bad it aches. I’m pissed at the guy who dropped her off for getting to touch her and have her touch him.

And I don’t even know her.

She makes a face. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?” I ask.

“Like you want to fuck me and then hate me right after for it.”

A bug flies into the side of my face, and I swipe at it. The emotional twister dissolves into nothing just as suddenly as it arrived. My heart slides back into place.

And I go, “Whoa, there. Whoa.”

“That’s what your face looks like, man. I’m just being super-duper honest.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “That’s not what I’m thinking or anything.”

“So you don’t want to fuck me?” She’s grinning again.

My cheeks flush, and I wipe the sweat from my forehead. “No, that’s not it.”

A truck filled in the back with tan kids in dirty jeans and dirty shirts flies by us.

“Whores,” a couple of them scream out.

She flips them off. “Faggots!” she yells back.

I take the last drag of my cigarette. “I don’t want to hate you afterward, and I know I wouldn’t at all. I swear to you that I wouldn’t.”

This admission seems to throw her off. The truth shakes her for just a second, and I catch that beautiful grin again, flashing just for me. Her guard coming down just ever so slightly. Her eyes get even bigger—they sparkle—and she winks, the last drag of her smoke flowing through her nose as she says, “That’s nice to know.”

The moment passes, but my feelings of blatant attraction and love at first sight whip through me even harder. “Thanks for saying that.”

“You’re fucking welcome, man,” she says back.

• • •

The street turns from old pavement into faded red brick as we cross the Arch, the small bridge that stretches over the small creek that divides Beaver Falls into two.

Some kids are partying under the bridge. I hear them laughing and their boom box blasting out Guns N’ Roses, and I wonder if I know any of them.

“I hate the kids who hang here,” she says.


“I think they’re a bunch of idiots.”

“I hang out down there sometimes.”

She looks at me, and her fucking eyes are sparkling.

“Am I an idiot?” I ask.

“I don’t even know you, man.”

“Based on this conversation,” I say as we get over the bridge and it turns onto Main Street. “Do you think I am?”

“You haven’t said anything stupid. That’s pretty darn cool. Usually guys say stupid shit to me right away.”

“Like what?”

“Like, ‘Hey, cutie. Those lips would feel great around my dick.’ Or, ‘Yo, girl, that ass needs worked out. I can be your personal trainer.’”

“Shut the fuck up,” I go. “No way dudes are that lame.”

“Oh, hell yeah, they are. That stuff really gets thrown my way a lot. It’s fucking pathetic.”

“Well, that ain’t me.”

The grin turns into a full-on smile that goes from ear to ear. “I like that.”

“But I still hang out under the Arch sometimes.”

She shrugs. “You’re just the exception, then.”

“It really can be fun.”

“They were playing fucking Guns N’ Roses,” she goes. “I can always get behind that.”

“You’re a GN’R fan?” I ask.

She shoots a look right at me. “You need me to answer that? Do you?”

“I think you just did,” I say.

“Good. Love me some of that old GN’R.”

“Me too.”

“Obviously, man.”

We continue down Main Street. Shops and bars and hardware stores. Two small diners. A pizza place with video games and cheap beer. An ice-cream shop. And Larry’s Chicken Shack, with my apartment right above.

Cars line the street. It’s just after one. Lunchtime.

We stop at the intersection of Main and I-22, the road that runs through town.

We glance tough at each other.

“I live up there,” I say, turning and pointing at Larry’s. “Right above the chicken place.”

She nods. “Does your place smell like chicken?”

“Sometimes it does.”

“I don’t think I’d like that, man.”

“You get used to it.”

“Could be you can. But maybe not.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t live there, then.”


“Where do you live?” I ask.

She turns and points west down I-22. “About a mile down there, like a block from Frank’s Bar, in an apartment with just my mom and whoever her boyfriend is for that week or month.”

“That brown building? I’ve walked by there before.”

“Yeah, it ain’t much.” She shrugs. “But it’s home, ya know. It’s the one I’ve spent most of my life in.”

“You think that’s the description of home?”

“I don’t know for sure. But it seems like the right one.”

Silence for thirty seconds as our eyes wander away.

I take a deep breath.

“Say,” I start. “Why aren’t you in school? Didn’t classes start a week ago or something?”

She runs a hand through her hair. “Yeah. But I don’t need to go.”

“Why’s that?”

“I don’t like it so much.”

“And your mom doesn’t make you?” I wonder aloud.

“Nah. She says it’s my choice. She says I can do what I want if I’m happy with it, and school don’t make me happy.”

I smirk. “Wish my parents woulda thought like your mom.”

“Everyone says that.”

“Cos it’s fucking true.”

Cars whiz by on I-22 to leave out the other end of the town.

Then she says, “Well . . . I should be getting home now. My work is done for the day.”

I hate the way she says that so casually too. It makes me a little insane. It really does. Because she’s so adorable and little and sweet, yet nothing about working at the A-Lot is even close to fucking cute. But there’s something about her. A toughness. A playbook. An attitude that somehow makes it okay, I guess. It does and it doesn’t, and I’m not trying to let her go just yet so I ask:

“What are you gonna do at home?”

“Probably drink some beers. Play some records I got yesterday.”

“What records did you get?”

Queens of Noise by—”

“The Runaways,” I snap, cutting her off.

Another big smile. “Fucking right,” she says.

“What else?”

Happy Sad by Tim Buckley.”

“Cool shit.”

“And Funky Divas by—”

“En Vogue,” I say, interrupting her again.

“Wow. You know your shit. I really fucking like that.”

“And you got some great fucking taste.”

She winks. “I’ve got great fucking everything, man.”

I laugh. “Is that so?”

She winks again. “It sure fucking is.”

My heart is so on fucking fire for her right now.

But then she says, “So, anyway, I’m gonna head back.”

This statement makes me tense up and ache all over again. I don’t want her to leave, but I ain’t trying to see her tonight either. I have band practice. But, still, something about being apart from her suddenly makes me nervous and paranoid.

“You okay, man?” she asks.

“Totally. Just thought of something.”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t know your name.”

“I don’t know yours, either.”

I hold my hand out and she shakes it. “Alexander,” I say.

“That’s such a cute name,” she says. “Cute fucking boy with a cute fucking name.”

“Why, thank you.”

Our hands drop back to our sides, and she goes, “Alexander, my name is Patti. Patti Smith.”

“Patti Smith? Really? Is that really your name?”

“Yup. It’s the one I go by, anyway.”

I laugh. “I like it.” Pause. “Actually, I love it,” I finish.


“Well, Patti Smith. I guess I’ll see you around, then?”

She nods with a hint of excitement. “Yeah,” she says. She stops and looks back over her shoulder. “See ya around, Alexander.”

She giggles, and I wave bye and cross the street. When I get to the other side, I look back, and Patti Smith, she’s looking back at me.

Meet the Author

Jason Myers is the author of five teen novels, including his debut, Exit Here., which became a cult classic. He lives in San Francisco, California. Find him online at JasonMyersAuthor.com or follow him on Twitter at @JasonMyersBooks.

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Run the Game 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had it all! It was funny, gritty and sexy. plus there was alot of drug use.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
I have read his previous books and enjoyed them all. I especially liked Dead End because I felt that the story had a heart and I really enjoyed the plot and the action. It hurts me to give this book such a low review, but I have a lot of problems with it. One of them being the labeling of this novel as a Young Adult book. I am conflicted in my disapproval of this, because at the same time I know that kids now are saturated with sex and drugs. It's the sad truth. Are there kids like Patti out there? Yes. I cannot deny that truth. At the same time, though, most of the characters in this novel are not teenagers but adults. Take the main character, for example. He is nineteen years old and dating Patti, a fourteen year old hooker. I'm supposed to be okay with the fact that they're dating? Am I also supposed to be okay with the disturbing violence and discrimination against women? I ground my teeth every time a woman or girl was referred to her sexual organ. Throughout the entire novel, it feels like women are the enemy and the main reason why everything goes downhill. Women and girls are judged on their bodies alone and nothing else. Also, Alexander and his 'crew' don't hang out with ugly or fat people. How disgustingly shallow is that? I hate the main character. In the end, I don't care what ends up happening to him. I don't feel an ounce of sympathy toward him. There's an abundance of sex, drugs, booze, and violence. I don't get any emotion out of it, though. What did I feel when I finished reading it? Nothing, really. I hate almost all of the characters. They have no sense of responsibility and are completely selfish. They only think about themselves. They are supposed to be cool, but they are the last people on Earth I would ever want to hang out with. It's a scene that's supposed to be awesome, but to me it has the attraction of raw meat on a sizzling pan (I've been a vegetarian for five years). It bothers me to no end that women are still called wh*res and sl*ts, yet we live in the age of equality. This novel just reminds me that sexism is still alive and well. And of course I enjoyed the use of fagg*t on every page. That always brings a smile to my face. Sarcasm. It's pretty obvious, but I am disappointed with this book. I had such high hopes for it. It just feels like a reinforcement of our hyper-masculine, sexist society that always lays the blame on women. That horribly flawed yet well loved stereotype: females are only concerned about one thing. Money. That's all we ever care about. It's such a horrible message, and one that young kids are able to read into? Some things just won't change, I guess. I feel horrible writing this review. It's hard for me to write this. I really wanted to like this novel. But I hate the main character. I hate the other horrible characters. Drugs are stupid as hell. They will never, ever appeal to me. And I just find the story flawed and stereotypical. 2 stars.
TeeEyeAyy More than 1 year ago
Jason Myers does it again in his fourth book, Run The Game. It was so good that I read it within one day! The first person narrative is used wonderfully. Like in his other books, the main character's head is where you want to be. So much, in fact, that's it's almost as if you are Alexander, and you actually do feel the emotions that he's going through. The intense details and shocking plot keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting more. There's never a dull moment. While the novel contains heavy use of explicit language, graphic sex, and drug use, it is used in a way that positively adds to the plot. That being said, this novel is most likely suitable for readers ages 14 and up.
haley18 More than 1 year ago
I would rather read 50 shades (which I hated) 500 times before ever picking up this book again. Worst. Book. Ever. Thank god I was able to get a refund for this garbage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is always something interesting going on, which makes it easy to get into and hard to put down. There is a lot of graphic sex, drug use, and violence. Which isn't a bad thing at all, at least, not for people who are okay with it. The extreme detail makes the book so much more immersive. Although it is mostly surface value, with few deeper meanings, it is a brilliantly designed surface.
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Iv read every one off his book an everyone is awsome cant wait for the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one one the best books ive ever read.
Johanny97 More than 1 year ago
I was hooked on the book the moment I picked it up and It was really hard to put it down! I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to go onto the next book by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The 5-star ratings make me laugh! This book had no plot, it is simply pornography and has no place in a teenager's hands. Is it interesting to read about a 14-year-old girl who is a prostitute, and her boyfriend who sells himself to survive? I would love to know what redeeming value this could be to any reader, let alone a teenager.
Rosetattoo58 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Not only is it badly written but even worse, it has no plot, no message. It is merely a receptacle for overly graphic and disgusting descriptions of sex, drug use, and murder. There is nothing remotely redeeming to applaud in this piece of trash.
Nicolle1971 More than 1 year ago
I have to agree 100% with the review that stated that the 5 star reviews for this book are a joke/laughable. This book is discusting and has absolutely no redeeming qualities about it from the first page to the last page. The descriptions of the sexual encounters are just so wrong that I cannot help but to think the author left cutting edge and fell into I am going for broke abyss. The supposed love story between the two main characters is a joke. If you enjoyed this book I have serious concerns about your morale character due to the graphic descriptions ie: violence, sex/anal sex, rape, sodomy and drug abuse. This book amounted to nothing but a attempt at shock value that failed terribly. My suggestion is that if you choose to read this book breeze through it prior to purchasing so that you can decide if you want to read 544 pages of vulgar language, anal sex/sex, violence, rape, sodomy all stemming from a rip roaring drug habit. But hey mabey I missed the point all together. This book could of never been published and we would of missed nothing.