Book in Review: Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

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Title: Endgame: The Calling
Author: James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014
Pages: Hardcover, 477 pages

Summary (via Goodreads):

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.

This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

Play.
Survive.
Solve.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

I have seen this book a lot whenever I go to bookstores and every time I do, I feel the strong urge to buy it, but for some reason, I never did. Until one night, midnight, in a sleepy haze, I decided to get it as an e-book. And I'm glad I did.

My initial thought when I read the summary was "Um, is this gonna be like The Hunger Games?", but after reading the book, I can honestly say that this was nothing like it. Let me also say that this book is definitely not for everyone. It's a bit too brutal for some people and the fact that there are so many characters and perspectives might not be enjoyable for some. 

I was actually hoping that this book would be less objective of who it wanted the reader to want to win, if that made any sense. I wanted it to make you utterly confused as to who was gonna win, who you wanted to win, who deserved to win, so in that prospect the book failed. But, the book did not fail to make you sympathize with every single Player. It's like as soon as you got into their head, no matter how much you loathe them, you'll sympathize with them. 

The plot of this book seems familiar, and yet strangely alien at the same time. It's a common story being rewritten and turned into something completely different. I did enjoy reading this book. I've been reading a lot of romance YA stuff that I didn't realize how much I actually missed stuff like this. The world building was great. The characters were amazing. The writing suited the story perfectly. Even though you could tell who was gonna win, there were still a lot of twists and surprises here, mainly with who dies and who doesn't. It was also able to capture the suddenness of death. How it could happen so quickly that you almost wouldn't register it, and then it hits you and you're left there standing, stunned at this sudden development. The ending of the book. Oh my God, the ending. I was a jumble of emotions, it was fantastically horrible and predictably surprising.

Despite the heavy plot, the book was surprisingly easy to read. The writing was simple, rather straight to the point. It was blunt, but had that subtlety and suspense to it that such a book needs. I was worried that because there would be 12 (maybe even 13) complex characters that you were supposed to relate to, this book would be a mess, I would be stressed out trying to find out who was who and what in the world was even happening, but that didn't happen. The writing was clean, I know every single one of the characters, and I could really connect to all of them. I know them all. I was actually rooting for one of the Players to win. Unfortunately, they didn't and they actually died which was a big blow, one that I certainly didn't expect.

The author was not afraid to kill off, or severely injure his characters. In fact, I get the feeling that he kinda likes doing so. That's not a bad thing though. I also love how even though there is a love triangle, that wasn't what the book revolved around, and it contributed to plot in some way. The characters are all strong, smart. They all have their special talents. They're all different although they're fighting for the same thing. All in all, this is a great book that isn't for everyone. If you want a unique book that is adventurous and challenging, but a bit brutal, give Endgame a try.

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2015 Reading Challenge
Kimi has read 3 books toward her goal of 100 books.
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