I'd been looking forward to this one for ages, yet I wasn't really expecting much. I've come to realize that I still love a good zombie story no matter how you make them up, but the ones that really get me have a major focus on relationships. I'm pretty sure it was Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth series that made me fall in love with zombies in the first place, so if you've read her books, you know what I'm talking about. Now I've learned to just go into a zombie story expecting only blood and guts and good zombie fun. The End Games delivered so much more, though.
I wouldn't say that the narration is my favorite, but I think it works really well for the story. Michael's narration is flawed because he is flawed. He makes poor decisions, but I don't think I ever really felt exasperated with him because his intentions were always transparent. He most likely shouldn't have lied to his brother for so long, but he truly believed he was protecting him, and, it's possible that he was. Plus, the way he lied was a little ingenious, if a bit dangerous.
I found the Bellows fascinating. They're zombies, but they really aren't like any zombies you've ever seen. 1) They're made from a virus (sort of?), but they aren't like any that have come before. Sure, they still want to eat humans, but it doesn't seem like their only goal in life, or rather, death. Plus, the mutations are crazy and entirely creepy. 2) The whole Bellowing thing is neat in a weird and creepy way. Not only is it creepy, it's also a bit of a weak spot. I mean, all you have to do is yell something out and if there's any around they'll repeat it in their gross zombie way.
Patrick was surprisingly likable for a 5-year-old without much of a concept for danger. I think it helps that we see him through Michael, who loves him like nothing else.
The other character that really stuck out to me was Captain Jopek. That guy is seriously freaking crazy. In almost the creepiest possible way. His incredible disregard for danger is astounding. I was constantly questioning whether the guy was honestly crazy or just incredibly sadistic. I'm guessing a bit of both.
I love that the story focuses on the relationship between two brother's, especially when the age gap is so large. It's definitely not something I've seen very often, if ever before.
The Nutshell: The End Games is so much more than a zombie book. I mean, if you're into zombies for the guts and gore I'd say there's plenty, but the main focus isn't just on zombie food. It mostly focuses on the relationship between two brothers, one of whom feels the deeply protective and caring for the other. If you're a fan of zombie books in the vein of Carrie Ryan then I'd bet you will enjoy The End Games.