While I didn't hate this book, The End Games is something entirely different than other zombies books that I've read and enjoyed. Instead of being called Zombies, they start out by being called Bellows because they mimic what you say. Later it changes to Zeds which morphs into Shrieks. The ending really blew me away when Martin totally decided to create an evil entity that supposedly was responsible for the destruction of the world and the creation of the Bellows/Shrieks/Zeds. The same general principle is in play: if you are bitten by one of the Bellows, you will soon become one as well.
The End Games, told in the third POV, is really the story about two brothers (Michael and Patrick Faris) who flee from their home on Halloween night, when everything started to happen, leaving their mother behind, and playing what Michael calls The Game with everything from a Game Master, to goals for Patrick to complete. The goal of the Game is to find the Safe Zone where the game is supposed to end and a hopeful reunion with their mother.
One of my pet peeves in several Dystopian & post apocalyptic series is the arrival of the all too familiar and annoying religious cults (Rapture) who are abhorrent and just plain not necessary to the enjoyment of the book. They always seem to find the Bellows/Zeds/Skrieks signs that the Apocalypse has arrived and that God has called them to be his witness to the devastation and destruction left behind. If the authors themselves are going for a social commentary that those who are religious are zealots, then TMM stated is case for all the world to read about. Naturally, the leader of the cult is a sadist with his own goals and agenda that have absolutely nothing to do with faith, or the salvation of his people.
There are several key players in The End Games besides Michael and Patrick. One of the most disturbed and brutal is Captain Horace Jopek of the United States Army, or so he claims. Jopek is one of the more creepier characters that you will find next to the leader of the cult Rulon. It really isn't until near the end that we truly find out why Jopek is in West Virginia and what he is searching for. The other is Holly who is the daughter of a CDC scientist responsible for finding a cure to the so called virus. Interesting how emotional one gets while reading a book, and obsessing about meeting these people in real life and wondering how that encounter would turn out.
I think readers will come to respect Michael's choices when they find about that his brother is only 5 years old and hasn't exactly had an easy time of living. Michael himself is not an outgoing sort of guy but instead, loves to play his Games and does everything he can to protect Patrick from his own father and the awful circumstances that they face alone for 3 weeks before finding other survivors. His own home life was pretty compelling and made me respect his choice of leaving, instead of staying behind with his mother.
The End Games is apparently a standalone novel which means that most of my questions were answered to satisfaction. Unfortunately, I am one of those readers who needs to know where the other survivors are. If Micheal's mother survived or was claimed as one of the Bellows. Still, it wasn't a waste of time requesting and reading this book and I thank the publisher for allowing me early access to this title.
Author - T. Michael Martin
Title - The End Games
Publisher - Balzer + Bray for Harper Collins
Released - May 7, 2013
Genre - Dystopian
Received via Edelweiss from publisher