Thursday, December 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Calling: Endgame by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

The Calling: Endgame is a 2014 Children’s book written by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton and published by Harper Collins Children Books. It was released on 7 October 2014 and its ISBN is 9780062332585.

THE PLOT

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.



This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

Play.
Survive.
Solve.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

WHY I BOUGHT IT

I bought it after I got an advanced sample from NetGalley which I have recently tried to get into more. Who knew a Kindle would come in handy. The description of the book had me intrigued and by the time I got through the sample I knew I had to have the full version to see what happened, well what happened at first as it is a series and not a standalone book.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I am not sure whether this is YA or Children’s though some of the content and the violence involved seems to push it over into YA. Still what matters is the content of the book and in this case it is almost entirely great compelling stuff.

This feels a bit like a disaster movie as it does take quite a few tropes from that genre, the multiple locations and multiple main characters, the book starts off with 12 and then brings in a few more so we get to see a variety of outlooks and takes on all things Endgame which for me just makes things even more fun.


I am not going to talk about the Players I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you are interested in getting a better idea I think you can still access the Sampler on NetGalley so check it out if you want a taste. I love the exotic locations and the bits of historical notes thrown in there, it motivates me to at least do the occasional Wikipedia or Google search to see which part of the legends and history mentioned are real and which are just added in there to fit in with the mythology of the series.

The characters are in a lot of ways superhuman in the way that is just about believable if you factor in the trained from birth thing and the fact that the writer does take pains to ensure that the characters tend to be specialists and not just capable of any and everything and the fact that preparation is a big part of why they are so formidable. There is also that aspect of them being underestimated by the world at large due to their age.


The lore is rich and interesting and doesn’t bog down the plot which can often happen in the first of a series. I can’t mention this book without the crazy puzzle based competition that is being used to promote it where through clues and puzzles contained within the books people can be lead on a global search whose prize is lots of gold (I kid you not).


I would recommend The Calling for fans of adventure and ensemble casts. The characters are larger than life but not ridiculous and the story is interesting and left me hungry for the next instalment of the series. Feel free to share your thoughts about The Calling below.


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