Book Review: Endgame: The Calling

Emily Hawkins –

James Frey is best known for being accused of literary forgery in his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces, in which he fabricated the events of his experience in jail and drug abuse. Many fans of the book felt deceived by Frey, outraged that he didn’t write exactly what happened as it happened even if they enjoyed his book. But throw all of that aside and go into his work Endgame: The Calling with no prior judgments of the man.

           Endgame is fictional and Hunger Games-esque but with much higher stakes. The book follows twelve “Players”; each Player being part of a line that all humans have descended from. They are not supernatural, but they have been trained physically and mentally for Endgame, a game in which each Player must figure out clues that will lead them to three keys. These three keys ensure only one Player’s survival. When the keys are found, everyone else on Earth will be destroyed except for the ones in the Player’s bloodline.

But Frey and Johnson-Shelton take this even further. Back when Endgame was published in October of 2014, readers could scour the book for clues that leads to a key, a key that leads to a golden treasure chest filled with $500,000 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. This prize has obviously come to pass but the second book will have a reward of $1 million and the third $1.5 million. The more you read of the novel, the better your chance of getting the prize.

At first, twelve characters is a lot to keep track of, but Frey is masterful in his character development. Each character comes with a backstory and a clear sense of their personality, making them seem more real, though not exactly likeable. This development connects or disconnects us to the Players, causing us to root for some and not for others. The more the novel progresses, the more you learn about each Player, and the more you can relate or not relate to them.

Frey also uses research he and his partner Johnson-Shelton have done to make the book seem more realistic. This research includes information about the Player’s ancestry, facts about the countries the Players visit throughout the book, etc. The research contributes to the complex plot and gives the reader the feeling that they are in the world created by Frey.

Frey creates relationships and friendships between the Players, complicating Endgame even further and making the plot even more complex. The use of these relationships helps make the book not only more interesting, but much more relatable to readers. The interactions between the Players, along with their backstories, create complex relationships that are even more complicated because in the end, only one Player can live.

The next book will be out either late this year or early next year, and 20th Century Fox is already working on bringing the trilogy to the big screen. The date for the movie has not been set yet.


Emily Hawkins, from Belvidere, Illinois, is a senior majoring in English with a Creative Writing Concentration with a Psychology minor. Emily is a Features Co-editor and writer for The Rambler, and plays softball.


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