Review : The End Games by T. Michael Martin

April 23, 2013 2 - 2.5 Stars, Disappointing, Male POV, Post-Apocalyptic, Sibling Love, T. Michael Martin, Zombies 7

The End Games by T. Michael Martin
Published by HarperCollins on May 7, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 369
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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.
I’ve read through the current reviews on Goodreads, and one common thread is that everyone loved the relationship between brothers Michael, seventeen, and Patrick, five.  I’ll be the lone wolf who says I did not like it.  At all.  This child seemed straight out of 80’s sitcom land: way too cutesy and overly precocious in a way that made me (and I can’t believe I’m writing this about a young child) dislike him.  I suppose I can understand why readers who responded positively to the relationship rated the story highly.  For better or worse, this relationship drives nearly the entire plot.  I do appreciate a boy who puts the needs of his little brother first and goes to extraordinary (and often unbelievable) lengths to protect him.  I’m going to pause now to allow you to get out your pitchforks…

Are you ready?  Pitchforks in hand?  OK…

I wanted the zombies to eat Patrick.  There, I said it.  In part, just to get this annoying person out of the book.  But also, I think the plot would have received a much-needed jolt of energy by dispatching this child who required constant care and attention, admittedly just as would any 5 year old in a setting populated with ravenous zombies.

Look at the last two words of the synopsis: “unexpected romance.”  Well, no, it was not unexpected to me.  Unnecessary?  Definitely.  Thrown in at the request of the agent or publisher?  Maybe.  It seems as much an afterthought in the book as it did in the synopsis.  Out of the tiny, and I mean TINY, group of seemingly-normal survivors the boys found, one just happened to be the correct age and gender to appeal to a heterosexual teenage boy.  Her character could have been a different age or gender, and if you take away the flirty moments, you’ve got the same book.

If you’ve visited my site before, you might know that my obsession with zombies often leads me to give some leeway to flaws that might bother other readers.  As fantastic as the synopsis sounded, and THAT AWESOME COVER, I just couldn’t do it here.  In addition to the character problems I mentioned, I was also turned off by the overly juvenile tone of the writing.  Yes, it’s YA, but the tone of the book and Michael’s own voice seemed a bit dumbed-down.  It almost seemed more MG than YA.  The secondary characters, particularly the villains, were little more than caricatures, and there is absolutely no surprise in who gets their zombie comeuppance.  Worst of all, these zombies/bellows were not all that scary, and I never had the sense that the characters who were obviously going to make it to the end were ever in danger.  And that, my friends, is a major zombie fail.

Note – I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.

Review posted at Goodreads.


7 Responses to “Review : The End Games by T. Michael Martin”

  1. rivie bleu

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it, knowing how much you love zombies. Poor kid, eaten by zombies, I had to laugh, I’m sorry for him. I read somewhere about their relationship but I can’t remember where, I’m sure it was a good thing what they said. But maybe he got in the way of so many things, I don’t know if sometimes the publisher asks for things that are not necessary, I mean, yes, they know what people want and buy and that’s their whole point of being part of the book, but sometimes the author had it right the first time. I feel like when they delete scenes or have them add things, it stops being what the author intended, I’m sure most of the times it works out, but who’s writing the book? the author or the publisher? Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but if it were my book and I loved the way it was and then someone came and told me to add things because it’s what people want to read, I would feel like it was just not what I meant. I don’t know if I should delete this comment. I know the publishers do help and some authors love them. Okay, they are doing their job! it’s just something I always wondered

  2. Octavia H

    And thank you yet again for a awesome review. I laughed for a full minute when you wished for the zombies to eat the kid…wait I must laugh again…mwahahahahaha…ok it’s all out my syst….haha..ok I’m done laughing at small children being eaten by zombies. Awesome review, sucks that it wasn’t a great read, ESPECIALLY since zombies are involved.

  3. Nikki R

    Aw, how disappointing! I’ll probably still check it out, since I’ve been really looking forward to this one, but it’s always really good to see a different viewpoint, since most of the reviews I’ve seen have been positive. I’ll definitely go into this one with caution.

  4. Kay

    I’m sad that you didn’t like this book! It has been sitting on my TBR pile forever. I’ll still read it but I will get it from the library instead of buying it.

    When you said you wanted the zombies to eat that child… I was laughing so hard. He must has been one annoying kid. 🙂

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