John Green meets Stephen King: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The End Games by T. Michael Martin
The End Games
by T. Michael Martin
Genre: Young Adult dystopian
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: May 7th 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Author's website | GoodReads
It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh.

And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.
When I first picked up The End Games, I thought I was going to get a fast-paced survival story with zombies along the lines of the third season of The Walking Dead. The End Games was more than that. It tells the story of a young boy's will to survive and the lengths he was willing to go through to protect his brother and reach the safe zone.

I have to be honest and say that I had a hard time reading this book. It wasn't that it was bad or anything, it was just so difficult. The book handles a lot of heavy themes like Patrick's mental and social issues, antagonists that may possibly be insane, and Michael's struggles to stabilize his state of mind. The End Games had themes similar to that of a psychological thriller, and I had to invest a lot into the story and really think because it was so easy to get confused if you didn't pay attention to some minor details.

The writing is really different from what we're used to in the world of YA. It's much more complex and literary, reminiscent of the writing used in well-loved contemporary classics. The main character in the book is a teenager, but the narration treats the reader like an adult. Michael still sticks to his teenage jargon and is known for shouting out internet lingo like the word 'newb' but there was just something about the writing that made it sound so grown up. The book doesn't scrimp on the gory details and harsh realities either. The unique writing style may have taken a while for me to get used to but I learned to appreciate and enjoy it.

I struggled with the narration a bit because the main character, Michael, had a lot of issues with himself that were dealt with so vividly and I felt like he brought me along for the ride. He didn't understand himself completely, making it hard for me to understand him. I really admired his strength and dedication to his brother Patrick though and I really felt his growth as the story progressed. Patrick, on the other hand, was so hard to bear with. He's just a five year old boy and most of his actions were understandable even though he ruins everything almost every time. He really annoyed me but since I guess that is what the author wanted, I think he's a really well-written character. The supporting characters and antagonists were also very well-rounded and entertaining, and I enjoyed their contributions to the book.

The world that T. Michael Martin created for The End Games was new to me, but I welcomed it with open arms. When I read a post-apocalyptic novel I have to believe in it completely and leave no holes for plot holes and doubts, and that's exactly what this book gave me. Unlike most dystopian books, the story doesn't take place years or centuries after the end but places us just a few weeks after the supposed 'end of the world'. I also loved the author's fresh new take on zombies and the living dead and how they came to be.

The End Games actually opens up right in the middle of the action and we're immediately thrown into this world of darkness and monsters. The plot was evenly paced and even though a lot of major details were kept a secret early on, they were gradually revealed throughout the book during the perfect times. There was never a time that I had a question that would go unanswered. There were a lot of instances where I thought that it was done and over, but another curveball gets thrown our way and the book kept me on my toes.

At the end of the day, the best aspect of this book is Michael's love for his little brother Patrick. It's the whole reason for this story, actually. The strength they gave each other and their trust in one another confounded me and left me with awe. The array of emotions I felt while reading this book was so real, so breathtaking, and so raw.

The End Games is a masterful debut with equal parts innocence and darkness about redemption, second chances, love, and finding yourself in the darkest situations.


Buy the book from: Amazon USA | The Book Depository

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  1. I've seen a few reviews for this one and everyone say it's interesting. I mean I love John Green but not Stephen King (I don't like horrors in general) so I'm really curious how good is this! Great review! :)

  2. First of all, pardon my French, but that's one creepy-ass cover, so that alone hooks me! I'm really curious about such a dark literary story in the midst of so much bland YA fiction these days. Fabulous review! :)

  3. Fantastic review, Ellie! Your writing is lovely :) The sibling love between Patrick & Michael will surely be something that I'll look forward to reading about when I pick up this book-- which is most definitely now! ;)

    - Sel @ Bookcase to Heaven™

  4. I think I'm going to love the writing-style! Complex and literary :D I always love to read something more unique in the YA genre. I can't wait to read it, great review.


  5. I think if the writing style is reminiscent of classic literature, I'm going to have a hard time getting in to The End Games. But, I love the sound of a fleshed-out post-apocalyptic future and a strong sibling relationship, so I think I'm going to have to give this one a shot!

  6. John Green meets Stephen King... that's an interesting mash-up. I think I'm going to love the writing in this one, and the idea of it being set in a world just after the 'apocalypse' is new in YA. I've always loved stories of survival and I hope I'd get to read this one before school starts. Great review Ellie!

  7. Hmmm, I do like psychological thriller and zombie books (though I couldn't watch The Walking Dead, found it boring...), so I might give this book a try. Thanks for the great review!

  8. Wow, can't wait to read The End Games. You wouldn't expect John Green vibes behind a creepy cover like that! Thanks for your review:)

  9. An Amazon review led me here. Great review; I've made up my mind...


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