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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: May 7, 2013
Pages: 369
Source: For Review from HarperCollins Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

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.

In short: The End Games by T. Michael Martin was an exciting post-apocalyptic zombie novel with a wonderful sibling relationship at its heart.
The End Games was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013. Everything about it screamed that it was a "me" book - the male protagonist, the focus on a non-romantic relationship, the fighting of zombies. And as I expected, The End Games was a book that I ended up enjoying a lot. 17-year-old Michael and 5-year-old Patrick are brothers and video gamers who are fighting their way through zombie hordes to get to the safe zone and The End of the Game. The End Games was a surprisingly insightful post-apocalyptic zombie book with plenty of scary, gory, and heart-pounding action scenes. More importantly though, it had a wonderful display of sibling love that was quite lovely.

I can't say that this post-apocalyptic zombie book is particularly groundbreaking in its genre, but The End Games did provide me with enough originality to keep my interest. The zombies in The End Games repeat back to you anything you say to them, earning them the nickname "Bellows". I quite liked this as it added a creep factor, but was also humourous at times. Something that wasn't at all funny about these zombies, however, was their ability to adapt and become savvier over time. Over the course of The End Games, the zombies become progressively harder to defeat and this added a lot of thrilling tension.

The best part of The End Games for me was definitely the display of sibling love between Michael and Patrick. There is some romance in The End Games, as well, but the main focus is on the familial relationship and I can't begin to describe how nice and refreshing this was, as it is something of a rarity in YA these days. Michael's nurturing and protectiveness of Patrick was so wonderful to see. I loved their bond and I loved the insight I gained from their relationship.

The stylized writing is the one thing I have mixed feelings about. Sometimes the writing was striking; there were several unique turns of phrase that added some interest to debut author's T. Michael Martin's prose. I really liked how the style of writing gave a "voice" to Michael's character. Other times, I found the prose to be too harsh and jarring. It didn't always flow very nicely and thus was sometimes distracting and confusing. It could very well just be me and my personal preference though; others may not be so bothered by the writing.

Overall, The End Games was an exciting post-apocalyptic zombie book with an impressively emotional sibling bond at its core. Though the writing may not have always clicked with me, it is evident that T. Michael Martin is an authentic new talent and one to watch. The End Games is a standalone (win!). I would recommend The End Games to zombie-lovers in need of some emotional depth in addition to the gore.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
Good Books and Good Wine
Stories & Sweeties

Author Links:
HarperCollins Webpage


  1. The writing took a little adjusting to, especially at the start, but I did end up liking this one overall. I'm glad you did, too! I agree that The End Games isn't exactly a groundbreaker, but I appreciated the emphasis on the sibling relationship. Fantastic review as always, Aylee. :)

  2. I feel like there are so many zombie books out there, but it sounds like this one has a bit of a different feel to it. I'm really excited to read this one. And I'm intrigued with the idea that the zombies adapt over the course of the book and are more difficult to defeat (definitely like a video game) Great review!

  3. I really love it when books have sibling love. Though I would have preferred a female protagonist with the brother (The Host, The 5th wave, etc), this does sound good too. I am not a big fan of zombies but I do love post apocalyptic novels.. Also in these novels i prefer if the romance wasn't the main focus (like Divergent).

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  4. Aw, the sibling love sounds like it makes it even more special. I am glad that you enjoyed

  5. Hmmm...the boy narrator and non-romance aspect make me more interesting. But not the zombies so much. But I am interested in the sibling aspect. You don't see that much.

  6. I definitely think you liked this one more than I did, lol. I do however love the use of a Hot Air Balloon that was a highlight.

  7. I'm beginning to hate the fact that these exams won't let me go on a book spree. Anyway, I think I'll get this eventually and really enjoy it :) I love the blurb and I'm glad you enjoyed the siblingly relationship, I think that could be really sweet. Also, adapting zombies intead of brain-dead staggerers? I'm impressed. Great review :)

  8. I have to admit that I did a little happy dance when I read "non romantic relationship". I love romances as much as the next person but not in every book. This sounds like a fun book and I'll definitely check it out next time I'm in the mood for a zombie novel

  9. I love the sibling bond in this book! I agree some of the language was a bit hard to get into at first, but it eventually clicked with me. I thought it was even more endearing when I found out the author and his little brother actually used the term "ya-ya" growing up :).

    Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I definitely did, too!

  10. The fact that this book is a stand-alone is great and I love the sound of the sibling love :)


  11. I'm glad this overall lived up to your expectations! I love that the sibling relationship is such a big focus, that's rare in YA. Great review!

  12. Post-apocalyptic zombies?! YES, PLEASE. And then a bromance to boot? YES, YES, YES. I love that the existing sibling bond between the two MCs is what had you in love because it's all about the characters and how awesome they must be together that gave you such positive feels toward this book. Yay!

  13. Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! :) I've heard that it doesn't stand out all that much in the zombie-apocalypse genre, but at least it held your interest! I'm all in for sibling relationships, despite my love for romances in novels. I can take a break from it, I'm sure! And I think the sibling relationship between the 2 brothers seem really strong and endearing. I'm really excited to read this one, beautiful review, Aylee! :)

  14. The major strength of this book was definitely the bond between Michael and Patrick. I don't think I've ever read a YA book with such a stunning portrayal of sibling love! The author definitely put a nice spin on the usually overrated zombie genre (even though I had difficulties with the writing in the beginning too). So glad you enjoyed this, and lovely review as always!

  15. Aylee I haven't heard of this book before, but wow have definitely put that on my wish list, it sounds terrific. Excellent review :D

  16. Ugh! It is entirely my fault after all. I gave up on this after only 10%, not because I didn't like it, but because I just wasn't feeling it at the time. I guess I should have tried harder. I always complain about YA being too focused on the romance (Parallel being the latest example), and when I finally get one that is about siblings, I don't even give it a proper chance.
    Thanks for proving me wrong, Aylee!

  17. Oh man Aylee. The zombies repeat everything you say back to you? *full body shudder* As if zombies didn't freak me out enough! Parrot zombies are even worse:) I love that the focus is on the sibling bond between the two brothers as well even though I'm a huge fan of a romance being front of center. Sometimes it's just really nice to have a different type of relationship in the spotlight:) Gorgeous review!

  18. Awesome review! I didn't know the zombies repeated back what you said. That is super creeper and a unique twist on them, which is nice. I do love a good zombie book and I'm all about MC protagonists too. YAY for a sibling relationship too. Sounds like this one has a lot going for it. Glad you enjoyed it overall.

  19. Ooh these Bellows sound horrifying! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this because I'm really looking forward to diving into it this weekend. I hope the writing works for me, but even if I find it bothersome, it's good to hear you enjoyed the story regardless of your issues with the writing. Fantastic review! :-)

  20. I've heard really good things about this one ... personally, I'd love a zombie book with a little more emotional depth. I do love the cover for this one ... very eye catching!

  21. Snap. The world ended on Halloween? Intense.

    You know, I've never read a zombie book. This definitely might be one I can look into. I like the post-apocalyptic plot.

    Thanks so much for sharing & great review! :)

  22. That cover is very striking and the book sounds pretty cool, though I don't like Zombies all that much :(

  23. I absolutely love a strong sibling relationship and it's lovely that this book has a strong bond between the brothers and it's also a very 'you' book. :P I'm not a zombies fan and I probably won't read this. Great review, Aylee!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  24. If I wasn't already convinced you've convinced me now that I need to pick this up! I love me some sibling love, too. It's so admirable when the mc protects and cares for thier brother/sister. Great reviww! ^^

  25. I read the occasional zombie novel but try to stay away from them general because I find that they're often gory. Is that the case here, Aylee? I do like the focus on a sibling relationship because YA often lacks that.

  26. Did you know that I have never read a zombie novel. It's funny, because I am not sure that I would like them very much that I am waiting for one that is going to be fan-frickin-tastic. I am intrigued by the relationship between the two siblings. I like little kids in books and age five is cute. However, I think I may still be skipping this one.

    Thanks for the review.

  27. Sigh, maybe it's time I let go of my zombie-aversion?! This sounds like a really compelling read! I love the male MC bit though and sound of the brotherly-love relationship you mentioned... The 'Bellows' repeating bit sounds creepily clever too! Glad you enjoyed this one overall Aylee - awesome review :)

  28. Ooh this sounds like a good one. And maybe one I can read with my hubby since there isn't a lot of romance.

  29. I also love the fact that this focuses more on familial relationships than any other kind. Getting a little tired of so much romance in YA novels, to be honest. So yay for that! The plot sounds pretty intriguing, and knowing that it's a standalone is doubly awesome. I'll definitely have to check this out. Great review, Aylee!

  30. The zombies sound creepy. Thank goodness for a familial relationship focus - I love it when books do that!

    Great review!

  31. This book is suited for teens and even adults. The zombie scenes are not over-the-top gruesome and it even has some comedy. On another note that I found so interesting: The author wrote this story for his kid brother, Patrick, who shares his love for Zombie stories.

    Bruce Wassom