Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Tuesday, September 03, 2013 with No comments

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.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I started out pretty excited, because the idea of some sort of dystopian society in which people are forced to fight off zombies was pretty intriguing, but I soon discovered that the author chose to go in a completely different direction with the plot than I had been expecting. Not that it was a bad thing - I like when plot-lines unfold in unexpected ways, but this whole book reminded me of a story I'd seen before on film:

Basically, the novel was about a teenage boy who was doing anything he could to protect his special-needs little brother from the realities of a zombie apocalypse, in a style similar to how Roberto Benigni's character, Guido, protects his son from the horrors of the holocaust in the movie Life Is Beautiful. It was interesting to see how Martin applied this "game" scenario to his novel, but I do feel that it got a bit dry towards the middle of the story. I found myself losing interest almost halfway through, and at some point I actually had to force myself to continue reading, which surprised me.

Luckily, the novel got really suspenseful towards the end - there were some major mutations occurring with the zombie virus, which successfully freaked me out. Michael also started to develop more as a character, and started to realize that he was capable of making some big mistakes. I don't want to give out any major spoilers here, but I do want to say that I felt the ending was just too unrealistic for my liking. I've read a lot of zombie novels, and while I always root for the main characters, I don't always enjoy it when they seem to have every ounce of crazy-luck on their side.

Because of the "dry areas" in the story combined with some really hard-to-believe moments, I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. The brothers had a cute relationship, and the mutated zombies were creepy-fun to read about, but the story didn't have enough of a punch to have really stood out for me. I'm still glad to have read it, though, so don't be afraid to give it a try.



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