The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton Review

Friday, 13 February 2015
The Calling (Endgame #1), by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Published On: October 7, 2014, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Science-Fiction
Pages: 477
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.
This is Endgame.
For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.
This is Endgame.
When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.
Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.
Play.Survive.Solve.People of Earth. Endgame has begun.

Don’t fucking call this a rip-off or a knockoff-read of The Hunger Games or else I’ll seriously punch you. Okay, I’m not making a threat here, haha, I’m just kidding. But really, the haters need to back off. Just because the summary makes it sound like there’s a game and in order for there to be one winner, everyone has to die, THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING, OKAY? This book was honestly fucking amazing—and here is a long list of reasons why this isn't like THG in any way:

1. This doesn’t have ONE protagonist—there’s many protagonists, basically one per every Player.

Basically, we don’t have a Katniss Everdeen here. There are so many characters here who we get a least a few chapters of thoughts of to really get to know them. It was actually really easy to remember who they were because Frey and Johnson-Shelton created such memorable characters.

2. This wasn’t your average dystopian world where everyone’s poor and there’s Factions or Districts or whatever.

In a way, this is like a present-based atmosphere with the Endgame there to balance the population. In fact for Sarah, she was at her graduating ceremony when the meteor hit, so like, yes this was very believable. Piano lessons and soccer and high school were a thing in this book.

3.  It wasn’t all about killing everyone and being the last one left.

Here, you have to find the Earth Key and the Sky Key and the keys in order to achieve your winning. And if you die, it’s not only your soul that dies—it’s every single person in your bloodline. Imagine if you were part of the biggest bloodline in the world and something happens…

And yes, those are just some of the ways how it differs. But it’s a completely different novel and I just want to throw my head against the nearest wall when I see people hating on it. Endgame was such a racing and captivating novel that I devoured in one sitting, remembering that it’s such a long book.

You see, you’d think that the key idea of this would be really difficult to understand as there’s many POVs and locations and everything—but this was my kind of novel. There’re puzzles and mysteries and after finishing it, I feel so dumb, especially since there’s some repetition pattern and puzzle that the authors want the public to solve for a grand prize of $500,000. Like really, how amazing is that?

So every once in a while when the population is too high for the world to hold or when there’s too much war, the Endgame begins. You don’t know when, and you never expect it to happen, but there’s always people training and getting ready. You’re eligible when you’re ages 13 to in your twenties, and after that, you can go on with your life living normally. All 12 Players never saw it coming, but they were chosen randomly. There are 12 different bloodlines in the world, and each Player comes from one of them. Die or lose the Endgame, your entire bloodline dies as well. It’s as simple as that. And all you need to do is search the world, looking for the keys and solve the puzzle.

"He has a new friend. The beautiful Player of the 233rd. A new friend. Maybe more."
It’s been a little over a week since I finished this (as I’m writing this review) and I still can’t get my thoughts together. As I’m seeing my friends in school, I feel like all I’m talking about is this book and how they should read it. I even heard that a MOVIE may be coming out for this one? It’s already got so much fame in such little time, and I’m clapping my hands rapidly as I feel so proud for that matter hehe.

Okay—so this is such a kick-ass story.You have 12 teenagers who basically get to travel the world to win a game, wherever they’d like to. They all come from different races, countries, cultures, and they meet in China where everything begins. I guess you can say that they all have their own special talents—there’s even a bomb maker. Now you can really realize and accept the fact that your talent can help you. ;)

It was so amazing because as you’re in the middle half of the book, you sincerely realize that someone will get the Earth Key and you’re wondering who it’ll be… And the theories begin sprouting up in your mind. I KIND OF SAW IT COMING BUT THEN IT WAS LIKE THEY STOLE IT. They basically ran and grabbed it from someone who sincerely needed it and then they killed that person. AND I LOVED THAT PERSON!

After I finished reading, I originally thought of this to be a 4.5 star rating for me as there were some dull moments in the middle, but then I thought about how the ending made up for it and how much I really adored and became obsessed with the book. This is probably going to be one of the best books of the year coming from me.

My favourite character was Chiyoko. She was so kick-ass and worked so well on her own, not needing Sarah or some other guy with her. (BUT HER LOVE WITH AN-LIU, THOUGH!) Really, Frey and Johnson-Shelton both created amazing character-development and even KILLED OFF SUCH AMAZING CHARACTERS LIKE IT WAS NO BIG DEAL. But that’s a little better, because we never saw it coming, unlike THG.

"As she says that, a part of Sarah hopes it isn't true. She hopes this is just a wild teenage whim and that she's no actually falling for Jago. Falling in love with a rival would be about the worst thing that could happen. But then they kiss. And kiss. And kiss. And Sarah forgets."

AHH OMG SARAH AND JAGO WERE SO CUTE. And remember that checking scene and Sarah blushing and wanting to see more? I began fanning myself. Too bad she had an obsessive addicted psychopath guy at her shoulders stalking her because she left him for good and he loves her too much. Some people have to let go, no?

So this book was perfect and gorgeous and fast-paced and I was left shocked at the end of every chapter. Frey and Johnson-Shelton are such amazing writers, and I'd pay a million dollars to get a peek at the sequel, because I just can't wait. 2015 is going to be an amazing year for great books, I can already tell. I'LL BE AT THE MOVIE PREMIERE ON THE RED CARPET, PEOPLE.


  1. Ok. I've been hesitant to start this one, but you convinced me. I got an ARC though, and it doesn't have the real puzzles in it (just placeholders). Is that something that I really need? Should I get a finished copy or do you think it would be ok to read it without the puzzles? Great review, btw.

    Michelle @ Michelle's Minions

    1. DO IT! No seriously, you really should. This is still holding one of the top spots of the best books of the year so far! Hm... I guess you don't really need the puzzles as I was totally clueless with them, so unless you're ready to master the craziest puzzles that make no sense, then you should grab a finished copy. Thanks, Michelle! :D (Let me know what you think!)


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