The Queen's Gambit

Walter Tevis

fiction literary
adventurous fast-paced

243 pages | first published 1983

Engaging and fast-paced, this gripping coming-of-age novel of chess, feminism, and addiction speeds to a conclusion as elegant and satisfying as a mate in four. Now an acclaimed Netflix series.
Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting.

What the community thinks

summary of 743 ratings (see reviews)

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Moods

inspiring 50%
tense 50%
emotional 42%
reflective 34%
dark 32%
hopeful 21%
informative 20%
sad 20%
adventurous 18%
challenging 18%
mysterious 6%
funny 3%
relaxing 3%
lighthearted 2%

Pace

medium 52%
fast 30%
slow 17%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 63% | A mix: 30% | Plot: 5%

Strong character development?

Yes: 78% | It's complicated: 12% | No: 7% | N/A: 1%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 42% | It's complicated: 38% | No: 17% | N/A: 0%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 48% | Yes: 32% | It's complicated: 16% | N/A: 3%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 91% | It's complicated: 4% | No: 3% | N/A: 0%

Average rating

4.05