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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors Hardcover – March 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545151333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545151337
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Orphaned Pancho's 20-year-old mentally disabled sister is found dead in a New Mexico motel room. He meets D.Q., dying of a rare cancer, at a home for boys. D.Q.'s mother, Helen, forces him to undergo experimental chemotherapy, despite the gruesome side effects. Pancho cares for D.Q. during his stay at a Ronald McDonald-type residence. The one bright spot is Marisol, who works there. D.Q. knows that Pancho plans to find and destroy Rosa's killer. He tries to teach his new friend the way of the Death Warrior: only when you love do you truly live. Though Pancho plots the murder methodically, his plan is never believable. This derails the novel considerably and cancels any mystery that might have quickened the pace of the story. However, the New Mexico landscape is vivid and the author explores Anglo/Mexican relations subtly. Stork's characterizations are solid, from D.Q.'s probing intensity to Pancho's silent rage. Female characters are vivid as well, from Helen's passive aggression to Marisol, who displays a soulful intelligence. The narrative is dialogue heavy, but even philosophical conversations between steely Pancho and effusive D.Q. are natural, and often funny.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Though the police say that his sister, Rosa, died of natural causes, 17-year-old Pancho Sanchez is convinced she was murdered, and he is looking to exact revenge. With no surviving family (his mother died when he was five, and his father only three months before Rosa), Pancho is placed in an orphanage in Las Cruces, where he meets D.Q., a boy who is dying from a rare form of brain cancer. D.Q. is not just determined to find a cure, he’s also equally set on training Pancho to become what he calls a “Death Warrior.” Together, the unlikely companions embark on a quest to Albuquerque (Stork acknowledges echoes of Don Quixote here), and though they travel for their own reasons, once arrived, each will have to come to terms with what it might actually mean to be a Death Warrior. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, 2008) has written another ambitious portrait of a complex teen, one that investigates the large considerations of life and death, love and hate, and faith and doubt. Though the writing occasionally tends toward the didactic, this novel, in the way of the best literary fiction, is an invitation to careful reading that rewards serious analysis and discussion. Thoughtful readers will be delighted by both the challenge and Stork’s respect for their abilities. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart

More About the Author

Francisco X. Stork is the author of five novels: The Way of the Jaguar (Bilingual Review Press- 2000); Behind the Eyes (Dutton: June 2006.); Marcelo in the Real World (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic 2009; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (AAL/Scholastic 2010); Irises (AAL/Scholastic 2012).The Way of the Jaguar was the recipient of the Chicano/Latino Literary Award. Marcelo in the Real World was the recipient of the Schneider Book Award and has been translated into seventeen languages. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors was the recipient of the Elizabeth Walden Award and the International Latino Book award. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1953. He came to El Paso, Texas with his adoptive father when he was nine. He attended Spring Hill College (a Jesuit College in Mobile Alabama). He received a Danforth Fellowship to Harvard University where he studied Latin American Literature with, among others, Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet and Nobel laureate. After four years of graduate school, dissatisfied with the scholarly writing required of a future college professor, he left to attend Columbia Law School hoping to make a living and support his family by practicing law while writing fiction. Fifteen years and a dozen legal jobs later he published his first novel. He currently works as a lawyer for a state agency in charge of developing affordable housing. Writing novels for young adults is his vocation.

Customer Reviews

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This book is beautifully written and filled with insights.
I can guarantee that it will make you question the way you're living your life, embrace the beauty of every day, and appreciate things you never thought to notice.
The Children's Book Reporter
There isn't much of a plot, but the most of the characters are very multifarious and that keeps the story interesting.
Danielle Greenhouse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's easy for a plot-driven book to beguile its readers, but a character-driven book? That's much more of a rarity, not to mention a blessing. Francisco X. Stork's THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS is just such a book -- you reach the last page despite yourself because, truth be told, you hate to bid farewell to the characters he has created.

Pancho is an angry young man whose fury with life becomes confused by circumstances. He's a tough 17-year-old kid who knows how to fight and even loves the release of hitting and being hit. Worse still, in the course of the last year he's lost his father to natural causes, his mentally-handicapped sister to murder, and life as he knew it to an orphanage that he longs to escape.

Enter the "Death Warrior": Daniel Quentin (D.Q.), a precocious 17-year-old with one year to die (because we're all dying, he insists) due to brain cancer. D.Q. meets Pancho's anger and cynicism with unrelenting optimism and hope to the point where Pancho becomes confused and, yes, even more angry at times. It's no small task, but Stork creates D.Q.'s character with deft strokes which dodge sentimentality and embrace gritty, realistic humor. The exchanges between these boys are typical of teenagers with insults, brutal honesty, and grudging respect.

In a reverse of expectations (something this book offers in spades), it is D.Q. telling Pancho to stop his whining. Writing a manifesto about "Death Warriors," D.Q. creates a fantasy world of ninja-like goals where death must be accepted, invincibility must be dismissed, and love must be used as a weapon until the Grim Reaper's embrace can no longer be dodged. Pancho has to listen to this nonsense because he is paid to serve as D.Q.'s assistant.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Children's Book Reporter on March 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At seventeen, Pancho has decided the last thing he needs to do with his life: kill the man he thinks responsible for the death of his sister. It's not so simple, though...first he has to figure out who exactly the man is, how to find him, and how to get past the annoying, aggravatingly happy D.Q., another teen boy with a mission of his own: live life to the fullest in his last months...before he dies of brain cancer. And...honestly...I can't do justice to the plot here. Throw in some conversations about life, death, faith, love. Mix up with heart-wrenching backgrounds, wise children, foolish adults, and sucking every drop of marrow from life.
As my little synopsis probably makes clear, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is one of those fathoms-deep, meaningful stories that you rarely come across in YA lit. It is also an extremely subtle story--almost too subtle for my taste (the ending didn't feel wrapped-up enough for me), yet I love the way it left me thinking after I finished it. I can guarantee that it will make you question the way you're living your life, embrace the beauty of every day, and appreciate things you never thought to notice. You will never forget Pancho and D.Q. or the friends they make on their journey--Francisco Stork is a master at character and relationship development, and these aspects of the story are truly what make it shine. Even every description, although technically all of them are extremely basic and simply worded, serves to develop character--and does so perfectly.
As a bit of a warning, this is a very difficult book to read...certainly not in actual pacing or readability, but simply because it delves into topics and a world that are hard to be in. This is not a story to be read casually, and it is certainly for mature readers who can handle its issues. Yet it is a beautiful book, and it is an important book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By xtina on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. It has been a long time since I've come across a YA book with as much depth as this one. Frankly, it completely floored me.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a modern day adaptation of Cervantes' Don Quixote. But you don't need to be at all familiar with that work in order to appreciate this novel.

Pancho is a robust young man (17 yrs old), driven by the desire to avenge the murder of his sister. D.Q. is also 17, but seems ageless, wise beyond his years, and is dying of cancer. On the surface they have nothing in common: Pancho is all brute strength and bitterness; D.Q. is passionate, optimistic, eerily intelligent, and desperate to live life to its fullest, even though (or perhaps because) he doesn't have much time left. They meet in an orphanage, and D.Q., sensing something special about Pancho, immediately recruits him to be a Death Warrior. What is a Death Warrior? The concept is inspired by Henry David Thoreau's famous declaration in Walden, "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." According to the Death Warrior Manifesto that D.Q. has been writing,

"Anyone can be a Death Warrior, not just someone who is terminally ill. A Death Warrior accepts death and makes a commitment to live a certain way, whether it be for one year or thirty years...Once you accept that life will end, you can become a Death Warrior by choosing to love life at all times and in all circumstances. You choose to love life by loving."

I finished the book last night (eyes still red this morning from the weeping...happy weeping as well as sad weeping), and I can already tell this is going to be a book that stays with me for a long that I will be harassing friends and family to read asap so I have someone to discuss it with.
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