Invitation to the Game

Monica Hughes


Monica Hughes was born in England in 1925, and grew up in Egypt, London and Edinburgh, Scotland. In school she heard and read fascinating legends and myths which inspired her to write her own stories. Although she began writing stories and novels for adults at an early age, her work was continually rejected by publishers until years later, when she read a book on literature for young people and discovered some of the wonderful juvenile novels written in the 1950s and 1960s.

From then on, she knew she wanted to write for young people. Since 1974 she has had more than 30 novels and many short stories published. She attributes her success to perseverance, thorough research, and being able to combine the logical side of her brain with the imaginative side. Her science fiction novels are especially thought-provoking. She spoke regularly at schools in her home city of Edmonton and beyond and she continued to be an active writer up until the time of her sudden death from a stroke in March 2003. Some the best-known novels of the over 35 that were published during her lifetime included Crisis on Conshelf Ten, Hunter in the Dark, The Isis Pedlar, Storm Warning, and The Maze (HarperCollins, 2002), the final book published prior to her death. In addition to her prolific writing, Hughes was a weaver and watercolor artist. She was also very involved in her community, church, and social causes such as Amnesty International. In 2002, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, one of the most prestigious honors that a Canadian can receive. She leaves behind her husband, Glen, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.


1. Read the Book Summary

2. Search the Websites

3. Answer the questions on the quiz.

4. View the Rubric.


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Book Summary

“Invitation to the Game,” by Monica Hughes is the story of a group of teenagers trying to find their way in futuristic society.  The story takes place in 2154, in a time when a gradually mechanizing society and overpopulation leaves a group of eight graduates homeless and unemployed, but staged to make an incredible adventure that can only be dreamed. 

The main characters of the story go away to school for much of their lives.  The government imposes these boarding schools to develop the student’s specialties, to eventually find employment for them.  The narrator, Lisse, brings us to her school, the day that employment assignments are handed out.  Lisse knows there is little hope since she isn’t the best student, and has skills that robots tend to excel at.  Soon, she receives her diploma with a slip of paper telling her that she is consigned to unemployment and must take a bus to a Designated Area or D.A.  Designated Areas are where unemployed are restricted live for the rest of their lives.  Lisse boards the bus with many other people she knows, most very talented and skilled people.  Lisse herself is a great writer and literature expert, her school yard crush Brad is a carpenter and talented handyman. Scylla is an artist, Trent is brilliant, but bored, Alden is a chemist, Paul has an amazing photographic memory.  Katie is a brilliant judo expert and geologist. Karen assumes the role of leader at times, but also is a historian.  Rich and Benta, who join the group after their jobs are replaced by robots, are a doctor and farmer respectively. 

Once in the D.A., the characters must find a way to make do with little government assistance, and the constant fear of being hurt by roving gangs within the D.A.  The group finds out that some of them have special talents that can compliment the group; Brad can fix almost anything, Scylla brightens their lives with art that she sells on street corners, and the rest work hard to create a home and a new life.  The problem is that they are given no other opportunity to advance, they cannot vote, and they have little or no access to news.  In essence, they are forced to find a reason for their existence since battling the current system is nearly impossible because of the way a designated area is segregated from others, and the restrictions on traveling outside a D.A.  Lisse describes how the group begins to believe that there really isn’t any reason to exist, that is, until they hear of “The Game.”

“The Game” is by invitation only.  After searching for how to become involved with it, the group find themselves invited by an envelope to the door.  After their first train ride they are told that they will be given a “prize” for completing the Game, and should work together.  After each member lies down on soft benches they all suddenly find themselves transported to another place that is open and unspoiled.  “The Game” is never explained, only that they must figure out how to get the prize.  The group is brought back the center from whence they started after someone’s life is jeopardized, as Lisse is when she falls climbing down a rock face.  As the story continues, the group returns several more times to the game, each time stronger and better prepared than before.  But we must ask ourselves, what is “The Game?”  Is it a virtual reality world simply for amusing the masses, as Karen says? 

At the end of the novel we encounter the truth of these questions, as each character is forced to use his or her talents to help the group to the eventual “Prize.” 

Hot Sites

  1. The website, talks about overpopulation and what the population of the world will look like in fifty years.  Do you think the population will decrease or increase

  2. The website, informs us about the ghettos that Jews were forced to live in during World Wars.

  3. The website, has a story about a robot so lifelike that it can confuse people as to whether or not it is alive

  4. This website, has some of the most recent information about the riots in France

  5. The website has biographical information about the rappers life.

  6. The website, talks about a prize someone receives for a contest.  Have you ever received a prize for winning a contest?

Quiz Questions for Invitation to the Game


Read each question.

Use the web links and your knowledge of Monica Hughes’s novel to write a response.

Lisse describes all of the characters special talents and interests that aid them in “The Game” and qualify them to participate. If you were a part of “The Game” what special trait would you contribute for survival? How would that trait help for survival?

Throughout your life you are given freedom to choose where you live, what your job will be, who you hang out with, and even what you wear. What if the government told you that you no longer had the right to make these choices and they decided your future? How would that make you feel? When has this happened in the past? (Hint: Think about concentration camps.

Describe two characters and their relationship before “The Game” and after they receive the “Prize”. What events led to this change, if any?

Describe the setting of where the characters are sent when they participate in “The Game” and draw your interpretation of the surroundings.

How would you feel if you were replaced by a robot? Do you see this happening in the future?

What would you do if you were given your own planet? Who would be the leader? Who would you bring with you? How would you survive? (aka food, shelter, weather?) From this information, write a letter persuading the government to your opinion of the effectiveness of your plan.

Rubric For Quiz

Ideas and Content:

5 4 3 2 1

(Contains relevant supporting details,

is consistently aware of purpose, and uses

book and internet sources for supporting details.)

Sentence Fluency:

5 4 3 2 1

(Creates a natural sound and is easy to follow.)

Word Choice:

5 4 3 2 1

(Uses a variety of words, effectively and accurately

conveys a message, and uses words appropriate to

the topic.)


5 4 3 2 1

(Uses a consistent tone and shows awareness of



5 4 3 2 1

(Uses appropriate spelling, capitalization,

and punctuation.)