Friday, May 3, 2013

Becky's View: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

The End Games by T. Michael Martin
♦publisher: Balzer & Bray
♦release date: May 7th, 2013
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦ALA midwinter
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.

Review: The End Games was a really great surprise.  I know I've said this before, but I tend to have a hard time with zombie books.  Sometimes I just can't take the brain-eating, skin-rotting, guts and eyeballs gore.  Honestly, I only made it through an episode and half of Walking Dead before I couldn't take it anymore.  But The End Games?  Well, this story was something so much more than just another zombie novel.  At the heart of it's story, it's about two brothers, Michael and his little bro Patrick.   It's about their bond and what incredible lengths Michael will go through to make Patrick feel like he's safe in a really messed up world.  

Michael and Patrick were both incredibly well-written characters with distinct voices and a language all their own. For me, it took a bit to really adapt to it, there were terms that didn't seem to make sense at first, but much like learning a new language, once it clicks in your own head, it immerses you even deeper into their world and their bond.  Martin's whole writing style was unique and stylistic in a way that immediately gave Michael a voice that was intense, sometimes comedic, and almost always on the verge of panic at loosing control of the situation---as well as a spot-on voice to Patrick, a troubled 5-year-old whose emotions are on a constant precarious cliff.  Their connection to each other just seemed perfectly real, how brothers would be even in the most extraordinary of circumstances, both humorous and intimate. 

The world is stark and deserted, and the eeriness is only added to by the fact that the apocalypse just happened to hit on Halloween, the forgotten decorations and jack-o-lanterns everywhere adding an extra creepy flavor to the abandoned world.  This was a really different take on zombies.  It was chilling the way they would moan back any word that they heard, which is why the boys called them "bellows".  But the most terrifying part was how they evolved.  Their change from Bellows to Shrieks was heart-stopping, as they somehow learned to adapt themselves and make themselves even more dangerous.  But even with the dead walking the earth, the greatest threat the brothers faced were other human men that were quickly losing their grasp on sanity.  

Most of the story was fast-paced and intense, I do admit to feeling a little drop in attention somewhere in the middle, but it quickly picked up again and gripped me until the wildly exciting ending. I really enjoyed this debut, highly recommend to fans of zombies and especially those looking for YA reads that are perfect for boys!
Find T. Michael Martin online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase The End Games:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

In case you missed it, check out my interview with T. Michael Martin and the incredible book trailer for The End Games here!


  1. Great review! I'm so stoked to read this one I might have to pick a copy up for my nephew as well as myself :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    1. YA books for boys seem to be few and far between, but this is definitely a great one for them!

  2. This review makes me more excited about this one. For some reason I didn't realize this was about Zombies, but now rereading the synopsis and looking at the cover I'm like duh how did I not see that?! lol. Great review!

    1. Ha! So glad I'm not the only one! When I first saw this, I guess I must have skimmed the synopsis because I completely missed that it was about zombies until way later. :)

  3. Ohh this might be a book I can finally recommoned to some of my male workmates! Most of the books I'm reading are just not suitable for the boys, but this one might be perfectly up their alley! thanks:)

    1. Definitely! I remember a few months back, a coworker and I were trying to compile a list of YA for boys and it was tough trying to come up with more than a few! This one is boy perspective, about zombies, and has a kind of video game mentality. They will love it!

  4. I wasn't going to read this - I have a hard time with zombie books too usually - but it actually sounds a lot better than I thought! I love the sound of the deserted eery world, it would really add to atmosphere! Might have to give it a go now. Great review, thanks :).

    1. Yea, I'm a bit of a weenie when it comes to zombie books, shows, and movies. :) Martin definitely did a great job creating an eerie post-zombie apocolyptic world! Hope you give it try!

  5. I've seen a few mixed reviews of this one but yours renews my excitement for this title. I love how you mentioned it happened on Halloween so everything seems scarier because of the decorations, it tells me that the author pays great attention to small details and is pretty creative! Great review!

    1. I can see where people might have been thrown off by the writing style, but I found once I got into it, it really brought me into Michael & Patrick's world. I'm glad to help get you excited for this one again! :D

  6. I'm really intrigued by this book! There's just something interesting about a zombie book that stands apart from other zombie books (like this one, especially with the term that refers to them). Plus, I love the whole aspect of a strong sibling relationship. Great review!

  7. I have an e-galley of this book, but haven't read it yet. I'm with you, I don't usually enjoy zombie stories, so it's good to know this one is different. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

  8. EEP! So happy to see that you enjoyed this one! I'll be buying it soon, and I can't wait to read!