December 03, 2014

Book Review: ENDGAME: THE CALLING by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Book:  Endgame: The Calling
Author:  James Frey and Nils Johnson Shelton
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Genre:  YA Fiction; Science Fiction; Fantasy

The Blurb:

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality… until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun.
Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology, a major prize will be tied to a puzzle in each book, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights.

Read the Books. Find the Clues. Solve the Puzzle. Who will Win?

My Review:

I am disturbed.  So much that I had to drag out my laptop as soon as I finished reading the book in the midst of work just to get this out of my head.

This book is comparable to The Hunger Games in that it pits teenagers against teenagers, kids killing kids, bloodthirsty children with no thought of anyone but themselves and surviving.. The biggest difference is the fact that Endgame is much more violent with burning bodies, hacked off body parts, blowing up people, shooting, stabbing……  It is bloody, it is gory, it is ugly.  There is no grace in their violence, none at all.

Endgame is also similar to the book series I Am Number Four for they have characters with unearthly powers.  But unlike the Lorics and the Mogadorians, these beings are not mere aliens.  They are gods who have bestowed and chosen 12 lines among earthlings. 

These lines would train their offspring one after the other about their roles in the universe which is to fight for the existence of their line from the ages of 13 to 20.  Beyond 20, their role as Player will then pass on to the next one of age in their line.  They are trained to be the best killers, for on their shoulders rest the lives of their people.  If they do not succeed, their people will be obliterated.  For thousand of years they trained, and for thousands of years nothing happened….. until now. 

Meteors killing thousands descend to earth triggering The Calling.  Those of age, the unlucky Players, gather at a place where on the get go they try to kill each other, except for two players, Sarah and Jago. Of the Cahokian and Olmec line respectively.  They form a truce, create a partnership that they both know can not last.  Eventually, if they both survive to the end, one will have to kill the other.

During the truce they start falling for each other.  It isn’t just the physical attraction.  It is what they know each other to be, killers just like themselves, their reflection of sorts.  But Sarah isn’t alone.  She doesn’t know that the boyfriend she left when she gave up her former, normal life to fight, has followed her. Christopher, well meaning, brave, strong Christopher is a fighter, but not to the degree that Sarah and the other players are trained to be.  He ends up the pawn in Sarah’s fight to the top. 

Do I love Endgame: The Calling?  I like it enough and I am curious enough to know that once the second book comes out I will get a copy and read it to its gory end.  But do I love it?  With it's violence, death and heartaches?  I can’t really say.  I am flabbergasted at the way it ended.  It’s certainly unexpected.   The sacrifice is justified….it is after all the end of the world as they know it…. But for him to end the way he did.  It’s too sad.  And Sarah, I don’t know how she will survive knowing that she caused the downfall of someone she loves most. 

It is hard to assess my overall feeling about this book.  I do recommend it, especially to those who loved the book series I’ve already mentioned above.  It is like Hunger Games on steroids.  So if your stomach can take all that blood and gore, I challenge you to pick up this book.  But if you would rather read a good, sweet romance, you might want to stay away.  It takes a certain level of curiosity and devotion to love such a book.

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