Review: Endgame: The Calling, James Frey

October 2, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Endgame: The Calling, James FreyEndgame: The Calling by James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton
Series: Endgame #1
Published by Harper Collins on October 2014
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction
Pages: 464
Source: Bookworld Reviewer Program
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

angelyas_reviewThis is more than just a story – codes throughout the book combine to point to a real-world location, where a real cash prize is hidden. Who will be the first to solve the code and discover the treasure?

Endgame has arrived in the form of twelve meteors falling to different places around the Earth – close to the locations of twelve Players, one from each ancient line of humans. Trained from infancy to take up the mantle of Player should Endgame ever actually arrive, these twelve ruthless killers have now been summoned to China for the start of the great Game. There can only be one winner, and the lines of the non-winners will be wiped from the Earth by the enigmatic Sky People. High stakes indeed.

This first instalment in the Endgame series has some very mixed reviews on Goodreads so far, mostly from people judging it based on the Hunger-Games-esque blurb. Yes, there are similarities to The Hunger Games, especially in the parts where the players are grouped and trying to kill each other, but the scope is so much bigger. This story is a little bit The Hunger Games, yes, but also a bit Stargate, a bit Race Around the World, and a bit Da Vinci Code.

I was a little hesitant when I first heard about the controversy surrounding the author, James Frey – the infamous creator of the Full Fathom Five production company behind the I Am Number Four series, and the subject of a partially fabricated memoir. Since I received this book for review, I thought I’d try to separate art from artist and give it a go. I’m glad I did as I rather enjoyed it!

It’s quite clear that this book was written with a screenplay in mind – the action is relentless and fluid, with fight scenes choreographed in detail. That did mean that it was very difficult to put the book down and the often very short chapters help to draw you along to keep reading.

Unfortunately, those short chapters also meant that the point of view cut back and forth between characters, sometimes several times within the same scene. It can be a little jarring trying to keep track of each player’s thoughts. Also, the brutality of the story and the ruthlessness of the Players themselves made me quite unsympathetic to any of them and I couldn’t find myself caring about any of them in particular.

Despite the violence and apocalyptic nature of the story, I liked that it wasn’t all doom and gloom – there is an undercurrent of hope about quite a few of the players, perhaps that there might be a more peaceful solution to the game, or perhaps some kind of rebellion against the Sky People and the Game. In any case, I’ll be interested to see how the story develops.

I do find conspiracy theories relating to ancient sites fascinating. There are strange sites all over the world, such as various pyramids, Stonehenge, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, of which very little is known about their origins or uses. It’s fun to speculate about what may have been the origins of god-worshipping cultures around the world, although I really hope that something like Endgame doesn’t end up coming to pass!

I do recommend this story for those who love an action-packed thriller with strange codes and conspiracy theories. Perhaps borrow it from a library rather than purchase it if you’re not a James Frey fan.

four-stars – An action-packed thriller and a great first part to a new apocalyptic series.

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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