Thursday, May 1, 2014

The End Games

By T. Michael Martin
Published: HarperCollins, 2013
Pages: 369

Michael has one goal: to get his five-year-old brother, Patrick, to the safe zone.  Since Halloween, he and Patrick have dodged the brainless Bellows who are quickly evolving from wandering flesh-obsessed undead.  They aren't playing by the rules of The Game and neither are the new survivors that Michael and Patrick meet.  In order to survive, Michael needs to figure out who they can trust and follow The Game Master's instructions if they ever expect to get to the safe zone and end the game.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I searched high and low for it and when I found it, I was ecstatic.  But I feel as though I hyped this book up far too much in my mind.  I did enjoy reading it, but not as much as I thought I would.  It took me a while to get into the book, though I did I sneak in a page or too whenever I had a moment to read.  

I  found myself falling in love with a five-year-old. Patrick's innocence along with his disability, touched me. In a world where Bellows run free and nothing makes sense, this boy gives a stark contrast - he is the hope this book needs. Michael's innate desire to protect Patrick, even before the apocalypse, makes their relationship tender. I love the contrast between the world they live in and the one that Michael creates for Patrick, however flawed it may be. Along with Patrick, some of the other characters, Michael and Bobbie particularly, were dynamic and intriguing.  I routed for them wholeheartedly despite the stupid decisions they may have made.

I had a little bit of a tough time with the voice of the story at first.  It seemed choppy and over the top.  I'm not sure what I expected, but this particular 17-year-old narrator annoyed me, which may be why it took me longer than usual to get into the book.   That being said, the narration grew on me as I got to know the characters.  I ended up sympathizing with Michael and finding his way to seeing the world engaging.

This was my second read into the zombie genre, but it's so much more than a zombie book.  It gives me hope for other zombie books.  As far as a debut book goes, it is incredibly imaginative and well done.  I am looking forward to T. Michael Martin's next book, with the hope that it will be even better than this!  

Stars: 3.5/5


"I feel like calling The End Games a zombie apocalypse novel will deter many of the readers who will love it most.  It's brilliant, fun, and blisteringly intelligent fiction that happens to feature a zombie apocalypse.  I can't recommend this one highly enough."
     --John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

"The best of the undead bunch, meshing relentless action, intelligence, and emotion.  The plot rockets forth like a single exhaled breath.  Any last words? Yes: Very. Exciting. Book."
     --Booklist, starred review

"It's full of both jaw-dropping action and heart-twisting beauty."
      --Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist

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