Thursday, 14 May 2015

Endgame: The Calling Sampler Review (James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton)


12 meteorites crash in 12 different locations on Earth. 12 kids from 12 ancient lineages are sent in to a tournament or something to save the world. Why kids? Why only one representative from each lineage? Who cares, it’s yet another shitty Hunger Games cast-off – it’s Endgame: The Calling!

Shit is essentially what you get from what I’ve read of James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton’s product. Granted this is a 70-ish page sampler, but the point of a sampler is surely to encourage you to buy/read the full book, and this does the opposite.

YA doesn’t always feature the best writing or the most original ideas but even by YA standards, Endgame is piss-poor on all counts. The kids are ridiculous archetypes – superkids with mad ninja skills who’re also whatever they need to be in a scene: expert hackers laden with Bond-like gadgets, super-geniuses, whatever. Sometimes it’s fun to read over-the-top stories with kerazy characters, and sometimes it’s clear the authors simply didn’t give a shit and chose the laziest route of what they think YA readers want – this is the latter.

What makes Endgame worse is that this is the work of James Frey, a writer whose work I’ve actually liked in the past. Bright Shiny Morning is a brilliant satire on Hollywood and even the deliberately provocative The Final Testament of the Holy Bible had its moments. Sure, he co-wrote Endgame, but it’s the product of his Full Fathom Five label, a despicable place where Frey “hires” MFA students for a paltry fee to churn out YA fiction for next to nothing that he can then sell the rights to movie studios for a profit (remember that classic, I Am Number Four?).

Frey’s brazenly and cynically chasing the Twilight train and that really shows in his unashamedly shallow and derivative latest product, Endgame: The Calling. Even without that Full Fathom Five nonsense, I wouldn’t recommend this book as the vague premise is executed flatly with the most soulless writing. There’s even some desperate gimmickry about the successful reader who figures out the random strings of number and letter puzzles splattered throughout receiving a large cash prize or something, like this is some cheap newspaper raffle.

He may have been a talented writer once upon a time but he’s chosen commercial crapness over quality and become irrelevant in the process. Through his “Fiction Factory” he’s also revealed himself to be quite an unpleasant person as well. Here ends any further involvement I have with James Frey!

Endgame: The Calling Sampler

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