Endgame: The Calling by James Frey & Nils Johnson-Shelton
The end of the world as we know it is quickly approaching, and the fate of humanity lies on the shoulders of twelve teenagers. These twelve descendants of the original civilizations of Earth, and they are Players. Trained from birth to be highly-skilled assassins, puzzle-solvers, and survivors, the Players must find the first of three keys, hidden somewhere on the planet. The Player who wins the Endgame will save his or her race, but all others will be exterminated.
It’s a fascinating premise, albeit familiar to young adult readers interested in the dystopian genre. Inevitably critics will compare it to the Hunger Games—and though they do share many similarities (twelve “tributes” in a deadly “game,” a fight to the death, an initial bloodbath, and romance in between the action)—Endgame is told very differently. Author James Frey jumps around from each of the players’ perspective from chapter to chapter, and it’s not at all difficult to follow because of the distinct fleshed-out characters he’s created. Despite the fact that the storytelling and plot isn’t as well thought out as Hunger Games, Endgame still succeeds because it has higher, deadlier stakes.
In addition, Endgame is bigger than the book itself. Puzzles are scattered throughout the pages, and some are puzzles meant for the characters, but others are meant for the reader. The clues—which may take you online and to actual locations as well—will lead to a key, unlocking a cash prize in real life. It’s an epic premise with a lot of promise. Even without the puzzles, Endgame is still a page-turner with memorable characters and heart-racing action, perfect for the young adult target.
First Published @ Teenreads.com