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.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.
My Rating: ★★★★★
Before I get into this review, there is a story behind my reading experience of this book. Back in the eighth grade, one of my good friends and I stumbled upon this book when it was first published. If you don’t know already, not only is this book a fantastic YA novel, it also has a hidden puzzle on the inside that, if solved, grants the solver 500K dollars IN GOLD. (Now, before you get all excited on me,  the puzzle is ridiculously hard, and  it’s already been solved by a 25-year-old astrophysicist. Sad, I know.) Naturally, we thought this was our chance. We lived in young adult literature; we would be the ones to solve it. Spoiler alert, this lasted about a whole week and 50 pages into the book before all efforts were lost. At the time of abandonment of the puzzle, we also stopped reading the story, just because continually looking at our failed attempts at winning 500K was too sad to bear.
But fear not! After almost four years of carelessness, I finally read it and adored it. It has been longer than I would care to admit since the last time I read a book with so many layers and different elements. There was action, romance, adventure, mystery, and even a few puzzles featured in this novel. A full cast of characters, epic settings, and an unpredictable series of events brought these elements full circle. Once I powered through the daunting mental blocks, (I’m looking at you, you 460 paged brick) this book made its way onto my usual recommendation list.
One of the most prominent connections I made to this book was through one of the Players, Sarah Alopay. Up until Endgame began, she was a pretty average high school student in Omaha, Nebraska. She is valedictorian of her class, involved in all the high school extracurriculars, and a role model to her classmates. I’m not saying that we are equivalent by any means, but being in the running for the top seat in my high school class and also being very involved sparked an instant relatability with me. It’s not very often that girls like us are at the forefront of these books, and I felt like someone finally understood me with the introduction of Sarah. (And by no means am I hunting deer from miles away and training to save the world on the weekends, but I stay busy nonetheless.) Within this story, I could feel her stress of living a double life and feel almost as if I was living it right beside her the whole way.
To accompany Sarah to The Calling were 11 other Players from different backgrounds, fighting to save their people from the end of the world as they know it. Throughout the story, we get to know every single one of them, which I thought the author did a great job of conveying. It’s not every day that you read a book with 12 main characters, which made this book the exception, not the rule. Every personality had a unique role in the Game, and they all had their own personalities on the page. I thought when I started reading this book I would have a hard time keeping each Player separate in my head as I went along, but after about half the book, it became a complete non-issue.
The action and adventure in this book was something of another level. If you were to take your top five favorite action movies and combine them, they would be no match for Endgame. I’ve read plenty of books with fight scenes, but the combat writing in The Calling blew them all out of the water. Sometimes I run into books that have bouts that are okay but feel more repetitive the longer the book goes. This novel was the opposite of that. Every new skirmish was fresh and exciting and had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. It’s certainly something I would be happy to recommend to every type of person out there.
Overall, this book has something for everyone. Once you look past the mind-boggling puzzle and the number of pages (don’t act like you don’t check...we all do it) it’s sure to soar to the top of your favorites list.
Have you read any of the Endgame books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
As she conquers the mountain she calls her TBR Pile,
The future is unwritten, and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
― James Frey, The Calling
Ashton is a high school girl with a passion for books. She also participates in other activities such as sports and musical groups.