Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Book: The End Games
Author: T. Michael Martin
Rating: 3.5/5 stars - soooooo it ends there?

Synopsis (as found on 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.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.


OK, so I have an unsaid tradition. Every year for Halloween, I look for a "Halloween-y" book to read for the holiday. When I say "Halloween-y", I don't mean vampires or werewolves- I mean something that isn't a common paranormal novel. I think ghosts, demons, paranormal mysteries, etc. (Or in this case zombies.)

So two years ago I read Anna Dressed in Blood which was FABBBBULOUS.  Then last year I forgot to get a book.... heh.

So I was running through this small list in my head of what I could read this Halloween and I was debating Warm Bodies or the next book in the Body Finder series when BAM IT HIT ME. The End Games.

It was perfect; even the date of the apocalypse was Halloween. And recommended by John Green? SCORE. Plus the author was a YouTuber which instantly made him more awesome.

The sad thing is I didn't finish it on Halloween cause Adrian Ivashkov demanded for my attention. Heh.

But even without that, I don't think I would've finished The End Games anyways. It took me forever just to burn through 100 pages. True, the font was a little smaller so more words on the pages but that's not totally the reason why.

The main reason why it took me a while to read this novel is the narrating style. The End Games is written in this very sharp, survival instinct narrative that is somewhat difficult to swallow down. I was confused at certain phrases that the author invented, which caused me to slow down. I reduced my reading speed by about half. Some sentence phrasing is awkward, causing me to pause and re-read. Although it makes for a unique style of storytelling, at certain points it makes me want to put down the novel because I needed a break. The style was difficult to read as the rhythm and flow was somewhat disrupted and disjointed at points. I guess it works for some people. I'm on the side where it didn't work with me.

However, the plot held my attention as the plot was captivating and intense. Although the writing did make me have to decipher the plot a little, I like how the novel was put together plot wise. This book was like a puzzle. The beginning spent a lot of time laying the pieces out, then after we slowly begin to sort and put the pieces together, sometimes in surprising ways. Even random pieces that we didn't realize we needed are brought in.

Character wise, I actually found Patrick really annoying. Yeah, he's a kid, and he's a big part of Michael's survival will, but he was honestly quite annoying to me. It also causes Michael to use this very immature language style, and it reflects in the writing which bothers me. I enjoyed Michael's character, but I found I didn't really care for anyone else. Like people die and I'm emotionless.
The synopsis lies about the romance. There's barely any. Which is actually a good thing considering I would not suggest started a relationship in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. And it was refreshing to not have a romance in between things.

I did however enjoy that survival instinct feel Michael had. It reminded me intensely of Saba in Blood Red Road- how she calls that final survival instinct of hers "the red-hot". It gave an interesting twist in the story and added an interesting side to Michael's character.
However, calling it the "yes-yes" bothered me. Of all the phrases.... "yes-yes" felt so childish.

Also, the ending... I was surprised how this was a standalone. I wanted just a little more of a closure. Just like another 500 ish words or something. It closed at a somewhat awkward point in my opinion. Like done, but not quite done, but done enough that it could be called done.

Overall, I'm slightly disappointed by this novel- with a recommendation that high, and so many popular authors commenting on it, I expected a little more from this novel. I did enjoy it though, and had a few laughs. It was hard to swallow down, but it was captivating with a desperate atmosphere. I like this book, but I think more could've been done with it and the writing style could try to flow a little better.


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