T. Michael Martin
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Number of Pages: 384
Rating: 4 stars
It happened on Halloween.From what I've been incredibly fortunate to read so far, I am able to say that it looks like 2013 is shaping up to be the year of absolutely excellent debut novels, and T. Michael Martin's The End Games is certainly no exception to that high standard of excellence. Filled with chilling creatures, wonderful characters and heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) relationships, and a surprising sense of poignancy similar to that of Courtney Summer's This is Not a Test, The End Games is a novel that simply cannot be missed by readers looking for the next great apocalypse novel, combining raw emotion with raw human flesh.
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.
T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.
The End Games starts right off with a bang--giving readers a look into a world practically run by the eerie beings known as the Bellows, but also giving them a look into the powerful relationship that is Michael and Patrick's. I've mentioned in quite a few of my reviews that I am a complete sucker for novels that feature strong, family-based relationships, and The End Games has just that, and then some. Throughout the entirety of the novel, the relationship between the two brothers and main characters--Michael and Patrick--both warmed my heart and made it ache, especially towards the middle.
The plot of The End Games is also something to praise, and is a refreshing take on the zombie apocalypse, with thrilling action sequences, twists even I was shocked by (including one right at the very beginning), and truly disturbing and creepy zombies--Bellows. The Bellows in The End Games are aptly named, considering the fact that whatever you say, they bellow back portions of in ominous shouts, which to me is terrifying in itself, but then there's also the evolution of the Bellows, which makes way--albeit more towards the end--to an even more thrilling and pulse-pounding conclusion. As well as the overall creepiness to the Bellows, the world-building and how the Bellows came to be, while perhaps slightly lacking in certain aspects, was thoroughly intriguing, original, and clever.
While the unique writing style may have taken a bit for me to get used to, and I found some aspects of the novel to be slightly confusing, I think it's definitely safe to say that The End Games was a debut that left me exceptionally impressed. There's not much more that I can manage to say about The End Games, yet there are so many more amazing things left to be said about it. I'll just leave the more eloquent and insightful things to inevitably be said about this novel for the more eloquent and insightful reviewers, but for now, I think all you really need to do to prepare yourself for The End Games is read the final sentence of the synopsis, and believe it, because unlike many blurbs recently, this one tells the truth.
"T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance."Yes, blurb. Yes it is.