Book Review: The Calling (Endgame #1) by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Book: Endgame The Calling (Endgame #1)

Author: James Frey and Nils Johnston-Shelton

Original Release Date: 7th Oct 2014

Genre: Young Adult / Sci-Fi / Dystopian

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

Blurb: 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. 

My Thoughts: 

When I first read the synopsis of this book it intrigued me but I had a worrying suspicion it would be too much like The Hunger Games like pretty much every dystopian book at the moment, but I was pleasantly surprised! For one thing this book does not take place in a futuristic American/any other country but lets be honestly it’s usually America. This book takes place now, in our world, where everything is exactly the same as we know it, except Endgame. But even then it’s still the same because we don’t know about Endgame, we are normal people living our lives, oblivious to what is affecting our fate throughout the book. This is one of the things I loved about this book, that there wasn’t some big explosion/war/shortage of anything that caused the world to change, it takes place in the world we live in. It’s not just the teenagers fighting against each other that get killed, it’s the ordinary people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time, pick up the wrong person in their taxi, know a little too much about the monuments of their city. Isn’t that what a dystopian novel should be? The world we live in with a slight change, and that’s what this novel is.

Another amazing thing about this novel is the diversity of characters. The players in this game are brought from all over the world, with different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions. It’s so refreshing and you can see their different cultures in their characterisations. The story isn’t just set from one characters perspective either, we get to see inside the majority of players heads, understand their lives and their motivations throughout the game. Although there is focus on a small amount of players, and we get to read more from their perspectives in this book, there are hints and storylines that make it seem like we will hear more from the others in the second book of the series.

The novel is fast paced, and you are dropped into the action from he get go. The player’s don’t have time to focus on how pretty the landscape is, and so the writing mainly focuses on the thoughts of the characters and their actions, which I prefer. We get to be more involved in Endgame and the characters themselves. Every second counts to the players, so every word counts in the book. So much is packed into this novel, and it’s only a third of the game! Normally when this happens in a book it feels like the author is trying to put too much in there, too many ideas, and it spoils the novel. But that doesn’t happen in The Calling, it all seems appropriate for the plot, and in some ways I do wish The Hunger Games had have been like this, I wanted to see more action in the arena, and that is what The Calling gives us. Action where everyone isn’t killed in what seems like a few days because everyone is just as skilled as each other, and they have reasons not to kill, their clues. Each player is given a clue to help them with Endgame which adds more action to the plot as the players all want to know the others clues to help them win.

Although I only got emotionally invested in one or two characters I wish invested in the plot, especially as the reader is invited to play Endgame along with the players. There are clues in the book so the reader can play Endgame for themselves, with the chance of winning a cash prize which has already been won unfortunately. I thought I’d be okay at this but I did not understand a single clue! That may sound frustrating but it wasn’t, because there were so many I wanted to read the next chapter to find out the next clue to see if I could understand that one. The clue’s weren’t going to be easy when there is a cash prize on offer, and I didn’t look at any of the google links given in the book, which probably didn’t help me, but it was still a really interesting concept and one I hadn’t seen before. I enjoyed seeing the different pictures and numbers that appeared and trying to figure them out before wanting to find out what happens next got the better of me.

Have you read The Calling? What did you think of the book? Did you feel the same or differently to me? Let me know in the comments section! 

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