The world is about to end and it’s going out not with a whimper but with a bang. Twelve meteorites struck the planet, causing untold billions in damage and in loss of life. No one will survive the cataclysm that is approaching, simply known as the Event.
Endgame is here.
WARNING: Many spoilers contained:
Endgame: The Calling is no ordinary novel. Yes, hidden within the pages is a special puzzle. Crack the puzzle, win 500,000 in gold. But there’s something else. The Calling is the inaugural novel in a massive transmedia project that will utilize novels, the web(the Ancient Societies ARG), movies(20th Century Fox has gained the rights to create the movies, no release date has been announced), and your phone(Google’s Niantic Labs has agreed to create a mobile app game that will go live sometime this year).
The Calling, the first book in a trilogy of novels, signals the end of the world. 12 young individuals were chosen to participate in a win all, lose all showdown/scavenger hunt known as Endgame. The goal: Find a series of keys scattered across the world. Gather them and own all of them and one person will win.
So is the Calling any good? Well, here’s what I liked and what I didn’t like about the first book.
What I liked:
When I first opened Endgame, I wasn’t actually expecting much. I was initially drawn in for the massive gold hunt so I got a copy and started reading. One thing I enjoyed was the large diversity of characters within the novel and seeing how everyone reacted to the beginning of Endgame. Some, like Sarah Alopay, were terrified of what was coming. Others, like Baitsakhan(the hardest name i’ve ever had to pronounce), are beyond ecstatic. Many others simply understood and stepped up to do what had to be done.
Another thing I began to like about the novel as it progressed was seeing these characters change and evolve-some of them, at least. Some characters(two, in my opinion), developed far more than any other characters in this book. I’ll get to them in a bit.
The final thing about Endgame I enjoyed was the ending. It sets up the premise of the forthcoming novel and it showcases a massive secret(one of the characters, Shari Chopra, is the possessor of the whereabouts of the second key, giving her a major advantage in the next story).
Now comes the things about Endgame I didn’t like. Really, it’s only one thing but it affects a ton of other things in the book:
Death in Endgame:
The premise of this story is that out of all these 12 warriors, one will survive. This causes the characters to constantly think about death 24/7 throughout the novel which is okay. Take Kala Mozami, for example. She dies after being overwhelmed by the most bloodthirsty pair of Players in the book: Baitsakhan and Maccabee Adlai. She is burned alive but she is mercifully killed off by Chiyoko Takeda before the flames consume her.
So that death was fine. But the problem isn’t that characters die in this book-it’s the premise of the entire series. We as readers end up favoring a particular character and we react when that character dies. For me, it’s how the story killed off certain characters that I couldn’t stand while reading.
Take Marcus Loxias Megalos, for example. The first character we’re introduced in the novel-and he’s the first one to go out. Not only that, it’s pretty much common knowledge by the time of his death that the Players of Endgame are no ordinary kids-they’re extremely well-trained killers. So how does Marcus, someone who’s supposed to be a well-trained and powerful killer, die? He mistakes a grenade for something other than a grenade and catches it. It explodes and poof! He’s done. Someone who’s been trained his entire life to be ready to fight for the end of the world dies in what I can only call a stupid manner.
Ok, remember how a short while ago I talked about how certain characters developed in what I thought was a positive way during the book? Those characters were killed off as well. They were Chiyoko Takeda and An Liu. When we were introduced to these characters in the beginning of the book, we learn that Chiyoko is a solitary character, not one wanting friends or even relationships. With An, we are introduced to someone who wants the world to burn and is willing to disrupt Endgame and ensure no one wins.
However, throughout the course of the story, these two characters meet and they radically change from their intros. They fall in love with each other. For Chiyoko, she finally has someone to confide in, someone to trust-something she’s never had to do before. For An, he realizes that there is someone in the world he’s not willing to pull the trigger on, someone he wants to protect and value.
An and Chiyoko die in the climax of the story which takes place in Stonehenge and while An’s death was okay(he traps Christopher, Sarah’s boyfriend who followed her throughout the course of the novel and sets him up as a hostage. Sarah kills An but sacrifices Chris in the process of doing so, killing him as well), Chiyoko’s death was not. As she mourned the loss of her lover while Sarah obtained the first key of Endgame, she dies due to a boulder falling on her and crushing her. That’s it.
While most characters in this novel don’t really evolve or change or grow much throughout the story, Chiyoko was different. I began to slowly care about her and wanted to see her continue on throughout the first book. But no. Instead, she dies-but she died in a way that did not honor her. She was killed off in a lazy manner and frankly, I don’t think she deserved to die like that. If she was going to die, I’d like to believe she would have wanted to die fighting on in Endgame in the name of her lover. She deserved to die with dignity and the writers didn’t give her that, plain and simple.
At the end of it all, 4 Players die in the first book-Chiyoko, An, Kala and Marcus. Christopher Vanderkamp, Sarah’s boyfriend, also is killed off. The characters who managed to stay alive are relatively unchanged from the beginning except for Sarah, who had to straight up kill her boyfriend to obtain the final key.
So, what happens next? We’ll have to wait and see when the second Endgame novel goes live in Fall 2015.
At a glance, The Calling may seem like an ordinary novel. But dig deeper within its pages and you’ll find a world on the brink of ruin and with every turn of the page, we as readers go on a journey of our own to follow the 12 warriors who hold the final vestiges of survival in their hands. As a book, Endgame isn’t perfect-but no novel really ever is. It tells a story and it tells it well enough. As for me, I’d recommend Endgame to others but with one caveat: Don’t get too attached to the stars of the show. Much like real life, you don’t know when they will no longer be around.
Keep checking back at Fev Games for more reviews of the Endgame novels and novellas! Soon I’ll be covering the first couple Training Diary novella so stay tuned and I’ll see you next time!