Monday, October 27, 2014

Endgame by James Frey

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Title: Endgame: The Calling
Author: James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Pages: 477

Buy: Amazon
Rating: 2/5 stars 
Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality… until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

Yes, I know about the controversy with James Frey. No, I am not going to base my review off of what he's done in the past. I'd like to separate the book from the author. This review is going to be solely about the book. But before I proceed to my review, let me say a few things about the whole "this is a Hunger Games ripoff!" situation that's been circling the reviewer community. First, can you really say The Hunger Games (or any book, let it be YA or Adult Fiction) was 100% original? Second, the blurb gives off The Hunger Games vibes, but unless you read it, you'll never know that the two are quite different. Sure, there are some similarities (I'll get to them later) but they're... tolerable.

Basically, twelve Players from twelve bloodlines are chosen to play Endgame, an insane fight to save their line from the destruction of humanity. The Players are from the ages 13 to 17. At the end, the winner will be spared from the extermination of all but their line. Sound familiar? 

I think one of the problems I had with this book was of its too-close similarity to The Hunger Games. I mean, really? Of all the numbers that could've been chosen! The killing off part -- I guess I can deal with that. This book's execution just didn't quite match its potential.


The writing doesn't even come close to good. The short sentences frustrated me, made me feel like I was reading a script instead of a novel. The book starts off with this kind of writing, and just from that, I wanted to put it down immediately. It also completely neglected "show, don't tell" which made my mind feel dry. Part of the fun in reading is imagining, but sadly I didn't get to do that here. 

Another problem I had was keeping track of the characters. Frankly, there were too many of them. I found myself going back to previous chapters because I couldn't remember who was who. It seemed like the author couldn't even handle all of them, which just makes everything fall apart, because if the author can't give all his attention to the character, then the character's going to end up flat. Most of the characters ended up with poor development, but I guess that's fine, because they're all going to die anyway, right? 

Endgame's story is thrilling and filled with gore, but that's all it turned out to be. I was left uninspired and totally exhausted from reading it. It does have potential to become a fantastic sci-fi adventure; however, it aimed too much for the things that actually stopped this novel from being great. The world-building was unclear, the writing was enough to cause a headache, and there was simply no spark to this book. And because of that, it appeared as a good attempt to merge all of the popular YA-themes into one.

Sorry, James Frey, but I won't be continuing this series.


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