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Endgame: The Calling Hardcover – October 7, 2014

138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—Meteors have crashed into the Earth all around the globe, signaling the beginning of Endgame. Twelve teenagers, who have trained all their lives for this moment, must put their knowledge and deadly skills to the test as they play the game set up thousands of years ago. Only one will win Endgame and save their family line from destruction by the Sky People. The losers will be destroyed and the rest of mankind with them. Frey's new teen novel is full of action and adventure. Unfortunately, this takes precedence over other aspects of the novel. There is very little world-building or explanation of Endgame. Instead, the characters know far more than readers, despite the omniscient third-person narrator telling every aspect of the story. And while the 12 protagonists are interesting, they remain two-dimensional. It's doubtful this confusing novel, the first in a series, will collect many fans.—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL


“The treasure hunters of the world may want to dust off their tools.” (USA Today)

“This book is fantastic. On every level. Please just go read it and try and disagree with me. I dare you.” (The Guardian)

“A unique dystopian adventure with anchors to the real world… set to become a cultural phenomenon.” (ALA Booklist)

“Endgame is like The Hunger Games on steroids.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

“You officially have my attention, James Frey. And to anyone reading this, the challenge is on.” (

“The premise is engaging, in a Hunger Games-meets-National Treasure sort of way, and the diverse global cast is welcome.” (Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • Series: Endgame (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062332589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062332585
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I think we know what the pitch for "Endgame: The Calling" was: It's like the Hunger Games, but without the realism! And there are PUZZLES! And a fetch quest!

And sadly, the pitch is all there is to recommend the first book of James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton's new series for young adults. The actual execution is like a piece of stale pizza with no sauce -- dry, flavorless and kind of tedious. In addition to the awkward, lifeless writing with its short bland sentences, the characters feel more like game pieces than actual people.

The premise is that there are twelve ancient lineages who have been preparing to save the world for thousands of years... and for some reason, only one person is eligible per line, even though any one person from thousands of years ago is going to have a LOT of descendants. And for some reason, only teens are eligible, even though you would expect people at their peak physical condition to be chosen. But what do I know? Endgame!

Now meteorites are falling on whatever city the ONLY appropriately-aged descendants are living in, signaling the beginning of the vaguely-defined Endgame. Every one of them has been trained in deadly Special-Ops-style combat, so they can kill anyone who gets in their way -- including each other. Their goal: when Endgame starts, they must fetch three keys. And so begins a world-wide, bloody quest for the Great Puzzle of Salvation. If they don't win, they die.

"Endgame: The Calling" is the worst kind of story -- the kind of story that has a brilliant premise... and falls flatter than a tortilla that has been run over by a steamroller. In the hands of a better writer, this would be an epic story.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By SuburbanHousewifeMN VINE VOICE on October 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To be fair, I am a Vine reviewer, so we aren't afforded the game pieces to solve the puzzle, which leaves us just reviewing the story and writing of the author... which is lackluster at best. I am a middle school teacher and an avid reader. I have seen a lot of end-times, Hunger Games, etc. type of books and this one is not worth the time for the story line. As other reviewers have said, get this book to play the game and win the prize, not for the writing or the story line. It seems very forced to create a story for a game. Almost like the author/company said let's make a game our readers will want to participate in to sell lots of cheap-to-produce books and make a lot of money. Oh, and hey! We should have someone write a story for it.

The characters are packed into mini chapters and snippets, as they grow closer to killing one another off. They have all had extensive training in killing off others throughout their entire lives (most are teenagers), and have trained their entire lives. It's very angry and vengeful or woe is me I don't want this position. The author throws a lot of ideas and characters at you and hopes you can keep up with them throughout the book.

He also writes in short sentences. And tries to sound dramatic. And reinforce the idea. And fails. See how annoying that is?! And he continues to do it over and over again. If you read the summary of this story on Amazon, you have a great sense of how the story flows and how the author writes. It doesn't flow or give the reader enough time to really become one of the characters before he changes the chapter and begins writing about another character. You can't insert yourself into this story as a reader/character and you come away feeling empty.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Brian Klein VINE VOICE on September 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*NOTE* Endgame: The Calling is at its core a puzzle, and any review of it must take that into account. However the review copy of the book I was provided contained a placeholder puzzle, so as not to release the actual puzzle early. Thus I won't be reviewing the puzzle portion at all, only the book itself. This is not entirely fair, so judge this review accordingly.

When I was a child I was enthralled with Labyrinth, a puzzle book where the user flips through the book like a 'choose-your-own adventure', going through the labyrinth. The catch was that encoded in the maze was a riddle, and if you discovered the answer you won a prize. While the contest was over by the time I started reading I was still enthralled, and I have fond memories of trying to figure it all out (I never did, by the way).

The author of Endgame: The Calling has a similar recollection with a similar book, and is hoping that Endgame can provide this feeling to a new generation of readers. The conceit is simple: encoded in the story are puzzles, tied in to social media, and if you figure it out you find a key that unlocks a box full of gold. This is all fun and well, and the puzzle may itself be delightful. But this review is about the story - one that I found very lacking.

The central problem I have with the story is that it requires turning off your mind and throwing away certain facts in order to accept some of its tenants. This would be fine (it is a fictional story after all) if not for the fact that its also a puzzle that demands your full attention and that you nitpick and research details. These two things are inherently contradictory and definitely brought the book down a notch for me.

I also take issue with the characters in the story.
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