Here's the eery bluuuurby-bluuurb!
"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.
T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance."
I am saddened to tell you that this will not be a positive review. It only happens once in awhile, but you stumble across books like The End Games that are just completely and utterly rage-fuelling.
*Spoilers: Heck, I don't even care that there will be spoilers. You don't even need to go and read this book yourself, it's a real tragedy that some of us shouldn't have to go through.*
I had such high hopes for this book; the cover instantly drew me in with the sinister looking trees which also spelled out the title with the black and red backdrop. The blurb was so captivating with the idea of a Game Master that was running the show and keeping these two brothers out of danger from the Bellows. I was so eager to read it, that that night I cuddled into the couch with it in hand and an excited grin on my face.
And that's where the grin began and immediately ended. This book definitely does not live up to the blurb, or cover. Michael, the seventeen year old brother who is protecting his little brother, Patrick, is the main protagonist. At first read, it's easy to see that Michael is a gamer. I thought, 'Great! I'm a gamer too, so I'll get all his references and probably understand where he is coming from and have a little laugh too." NO. THAT IS SO NOT WHAT HAPPENED.
Do you ever have that friend that doesn't know the social cues of when to place references, or direct quotes from media? Do you have that friend that only speaks in fandom-talk and doesn't understand why nobody else gets them? That's Michael in a nutshell.
I have two brothers; older and younger. They are both gamers. Both my parents are gamers. I am a gamer. I am very familiar with gamer terms. BUT, that does not distract from the fact that Michael (Or T. Michael Martin) forces every reference down your throat and randomly scatters it into the mix without a second thought. After two chapters full of gamer references, I was over it very quickly. Not only were there buckets and buckets of gamers references, to appeal to young boys who need to get into reading I expect, but there was an obnoxious amount of fart, butt, poop, and other toilet humour. By how simple the language was written in this book, that was the moment it hit me that this book wasn't for the YA audience, but instead it was for young 12 year old boys who want to read a book about violent zombie-like creatures, butt jokes, and gamer references.
I tried to persevere through it, I really did. I made it to Chapter 6 before I slammed the book shut and threw my hands up in the air, declaring that enough was enough. I've only DNFed two books prior to this one, but it looks like there will be a new addition to the group.
Having a stubborn attitude where I don't like to quit things even though they've become bad for me, it's a hard process for me to DNF books. I like to read things to the end, so that I have a valid reason whether to like it or not. I could not do it with this book. I did not like Michael and Patrick. They, as characters, did not interest me or gain my pity or sympathy. Instead, they actually annoyed me quite a lot. Patrick was a cliche kid who was too innocent, too naive, and was almost used purposely to pull heartstrings. Mine remain intact. Michael did not interest me at all. When he was in danger, I didn't tremble or frantically bite my nails out of my fear of my favourite character dying. No, instead I actually thought of ways he might die (Next Moffat over here...)
I stopped the instant Michael's love interest came on the scene. All the inner monologue of, 'Oh. She is pretty.' was enough to make me eye roll and put down the book to go and read Love, Rosie instead. I could just tell, with my Spidey Sense for bad romances, that this would be a cliche Boy-Meets-Girl-And-Totally-Fall-In-Love-At-First-Sight. I was so excited for it too, but it wasn't appealing or lovey-dovey in any sense of the word.
The worst thing though, and this is what kept poking me and whispering in the back of my head, was the writing. Oho, the writing. I don't know what concoction T. Michael Martin mixed up to write his First-Person narrative. I thought and heard feedback that it takes a bit to get into, to find that voice for you personally and then it begins to smoothly run. That moment never came.
Written with weird phrases like Yes-Yes.
Cut. Like. This.
And generally did not make sense some of the time. I spent more time than I should have trying to translate certain paragraphs that I just had to assume were slang words or weird phrases, like Yes-yes.
T. Michael Martin! No! That is not how a plot twist works! It requires build up! It requires red herrings and foreshadowing - not this dumb insistence and false denying until WHOOPS JOKES GUYS IT'S ACTUALLY A PLOT TWIST, BET YOU DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING FROM A MILE OFF OR EVEN BEFORE YOU STARTED READING THE BOOK BECAUSE IT'S JUST. THAT. OBVIOUS.
I'm rating this book a 2 out of 10, and a DNF (Did Not Finish) tag.