Published by Harper Collins on 2013-05-07
Genres: Family, Horror & Ghost Stories, Science Fiction, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Source: the Publisher via Edelweiss
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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.
When I finished The End Games, I was really torn about how I felt. And I still am. On the one hand, it was very different from what I thought it would be. It wasn’t a game book, like the blurb suggests. It’s a survivalist, inner-struggle book. It was more along the lines of a This Is Not a Test or Monuement 14 than a Ready Player One. So I was a little disappointed in regards to that. On the other hand, I was really drawn to the boys’ relationship, which I was not expecting either. Michael’s love and protectiveness for his brother was what touched me and their moments together were the ones that stayed with me. There were other pros and cons for me about this book, which I’ll discuss below, but ultimately this was a pretty decent, slightly creepy take on a YA zombie book.
A couple of pros for me in this book were the male POV, the brother’s relationship, and the zombies. I think one of the most interesting thing about zombie books is discovering each authors idea of how zombies should be. In this version, they are pretty typical. Undead creatures originating from some sort of disease. But what makes them different is that they evolve. And that was super creepy. The least scary part of zombies is that you always know how they will act and how to kill them. Here, they change. And that’s scary because it’s new and unexpected. I appreciated the different take on zombies. Also, as I mentioned above, the relationship between the brothers was very well done. Although the one brother is much younger than the other, he doesn’t play any less of a role than Michael and he brings out almost all of the emotions we see from Michael. I can’t imagine having to keep myself alive during a zombie apocalypse but it all changes when you’re keeping someone else alive. That becomes everything and Michael did a great job protecting his brother.
I did have a few issues with the book. The writing was a bit confusing, especially in the beginning, and sometimes Michael would just start randomly talking to himself. It was a bit strange at times. And sometimes, especially towards the end, events just kept happening and happening and part of me felt like it was getting a little ridiculous. I almost would have liked delving deeper into one or two big events than having tons of crazy moments coming out of nowhere. But that’s sometimes how books like this are. Also, I suspected The Game Master twist pretty early on. Which turned out fine, but lead the book in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted it to go.
Final Thoughts: I did enjoy this book and liked the different approach it took on zombies. I really enjoyed the brother’s relationship and the emotions it brought out. I wish the writing had been a bit smoother but I did like that it had a male POV that felt nature and not in-your-face teenage boy. It was different than I had originally expected but in the end I gave The End Games 3 stars and would recommend it to fans of This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers and people who are looking for YA books told from a male POV.