A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Authors: James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: October 7, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.