Thursday, July 2, 2015

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

Title: The Calling
Series: Endgame #1
Author(s): James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: 
October 7, 2014
Format: Audio Book 

Page Count: 461


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. (taken from

Okay, so first of all, it was a bad idea to listen to this as an audiobook instead of reading it. There are so many pages chock full of numbers and repetitive information. Seriously, I listened to 3 minute chunks of numbers being recited. Plus, the narrator was irritating. He would read female dialogue in this high-pitched, creepy voice... No bueno. 

Anyway, this is one of those books that has been highly promoted by everyone: book bloggers, the publisher, YouTube channels, you name it. Obviously, I had to figure out if the novel was worth the hype. 

It's an intriguing plot idea, although not super original. We've already seen the whole Hunger Games thing replayed countless times in various YA novels. At first, I was just... bored. Apathetic. The chapters switch POVs, alternating between several different characters. This makes it slightly difficult to bond with the different characters, and after listening to the first few chapters, I was pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy this one at all. I kind of wish the authors had chosen just a few characters to really focus on. Maybe then the plot wouldn't have been as confusing. Twelve players are too many to keep track of individually. 

However, things got better towards the middle of the book. I started to pick my favorite characters and root for them as they pursued the key. A movie adaptation of The Calling is in the works. In some ways, the book already reads like a movie script. I can easily visualize this one on the big screen. 

Question: why would teenagers (who are facing the end of the world as they know it) feel the need to develop love interests? The love triangle had me rolling my eyes pretty often. It's ENDgame, people. The end. No time for stupid drama and romantic competition. 

Another question (and maybe I'm just overthinking this): in today's world, aren't most families descended from multiple bloodlines? This book plays on the idea that we can all trace our lineage back to one of the twelve original bloodlines, which I understand, but aren't most of our bloodlines mixed by now...?

Okay, so I know it sounds like I've pretty much just complained about this one. So why three stars? It was entertaining, like a cheesy action movie. You want to know what will happen, even if you don't really care if the characters will live or die. 

It was alright, I guess. Not something I'd immediately recommend, but an interesting read if you have the time.