Endgame: The Calling

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Endgame: The Calling Book Poster Image
A super violent Hunger Games-James Bond hybrid.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

On top of the story that takes readers around the world and wonders at the origins of Stonehenge and  Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, there's a puzzle to solve. The book explains it's a "worldwide, puzzle-based scavenger hunt for three hidden keys. Each Endgame book will feature a 'super puzzle' comprised of of of clues and riddles layered into the text, some of which will take you into the Internet, some into the real world, some into social media, and some into your own mind." The End Notes point to many URLS for more information. A Fibonacci sequence is explained.

Positive Messages

In Endgame humans are all pawns of a superior alien race and a few warrior humans must fight to the death to be in their favor and be saved by them. There are some stirrings of more peaceful ways to go about things, but humans are still shown as pretty powerless and bloodthirsty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

It's tough to find "good guys" here. Most of the Players think they need to kill one another to win. They're trained killers -- all under 20 -- and think because the world's probably ending for most of humanity there are few consequences to their brutal actions. Sarah and Jago are the closest to positive characters since they form an alliance and care about each other. Much time is spent marveling at the cruelness of Baitsakhan and Maccabee, who kill and torture anyone in their way. 


Lots of bloody, brutal violence. Some torture; a severed arm, finger, then hand, then three heads, one exploding off; stabbings with a death; shootings with deaths, including a rubber bullet right in the eye; a plane crash with two survivors (after two others are purposely drowned); someone is crushed to death; someone's lips are taken off by a boomerang; arrows injure Players; a bite into someone's cheek during one of many stylized martial arts fights; explosions kill some people and burn others badly; 12 meteors kill thousands of people around the world. Talk of one Player raised by abusers and how he killed them all, including his own father. Another mention of father shooting his son.


One couple has sex, but little is described. Two other partners kiss. There's much sexual tension in the air when a male and female Player take turns strip-searching each other for bugs in an airplane bathroom.



A couple handfuls of "f--k" with everything else mixed in, especially "s--t" and "bitch."


Mentions of Xbox, Call of Duty: Ghosts, iPod, Camelbak, Adidas, and a bunch of cars including Mercedes, Audi, and Land Rover.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players are all under 21 and drink wine and hard liquor and smoke cigarettes on a few occassions. One character has a bunch of beers in one sitting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Endgame: The Calling is the first in a mature teen series that ties in a scavenger hunt for real gold. Clues from the story and URLs from the End Notes point readers toward the loot. Luckily, that game won't have as much bloodshed as Endgame. Twelve Players under age 20 are after keys around the world to save their people. After 12 meteors kill thousands, Endgame starts and the 12 trained assassins are ready to kill the other Players and anyone in their way. And they do. There's some torture; a severed arm, finger, then hand, then three heads, one exploding off; stabbings with a death; shootings with deaths, including a rubber bullet right in the eye; a plane crash with two survivors (after two others are purposely drowned); someone is crushed to death; someone's lips are taken off by a boomerang; arrows injure Players; a bite into someone's cheek during one of many stylized martial arts fights; and explosions kill some people and burn others badly. The rest of the content is mature to match. Expect handfuls of "f--k" and the other big expletives, some sexual encounters (though not much is described), and some underage drinking and smoking.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySteve H. July 31, 2016

Many Layers to this book

First, let me say that, Yes, this book is violent. Stories where there are kids killing kids are always compared to The Hunger Games.
Second, it is not what I w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byElisekarenrasmussen November 4, 2016

Really good book, but sexual enconter

This book was really good at the start and i loved it, but while 2 of the main characters were in the bathroom they took the others clothes off touched each oth... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBookbubbles October 28, 2015

13+, for teens that can handle violence

Really good book, lots of violence, some swearing, and some sexual encounters but no description.

What's the story?

Right in the middle of Sarah Alopay's valedictorian speech in Omaha, Neb., a meteor streaks through the sky and takes out her high school and some of her classmates. In 11 other places around the world similar meteor events happen, and not by chance. Sarah and 11 others are all Players in something called Endgame and have been summoned to action by the Earth's god-alien creators who pull the strings. Each of the 12 comes from an ancient line of people. The winner of Endgame is told their people get to survive and all others die. The Players have been training their whole lives through many generations (you're ineligible after age 20 and the burden passes to the next of kin over 13) and are ready to take out the other 11, but they have to find three talismans first: one for Earth, one for Sky, and one for Sea. Each Player has his or her own clue implanted in their heads, and sharing the clues will get them to the talisman faster. Some Players die quickly, some slowly and painfully, and some uneasy alliances form.

Is it any good?

For all the hype ENDGAME: THE CALLING is getting, it should be crazy-awesome. Big press, big-name bestselling adult author James Frey, a movie deal with the folks who brought Twilight to the screen, and real gold to win if you dig deep and follow the clues to a real location somewhere on Earth. Real gold! Sadly, Endgame the book is just OK. Sure, the intense action sequences are begging for Quentin Tarentino to direct them. There are lots of those, they're well choreographed, and there's plenty of bloodletting. The writing is choppy (the parroted phrase "This is Endgame" will drive you nuts after a while), and the story alternates between being too cryptic and too unbelievable. Why on Earth would we want to follow what the alien overlords say without question? This should have occurred to more than one character.

And why should we care about some rather ruthless characters to begin with? A few get backstories to explain their behavior, but not enough, or not soon enough in the story. Readers who look past the story's flaws and focus on the treasure hunt may be more forgiving. And if they win the gold, who could blame them?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what drew you to the series. Was it the promise of gold? The big media hype? The comparison to Hunger Games?

  • Endgame: The Calling is more violent than most sci-fi books for teens. Did the blood and gore stand out to you? Or do you read past it to get to the story? 

  • Will you keep reading this series? Will you follow the clues and hunt for treasure?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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