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Endgame: The Calling (Endgame Series #1)

Endgame: The Calling (Endgame Series #1)

4.2 35
by James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton

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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


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.

People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Frey and Johnson-Shelton open an ambitious trilogy, designed to play out over multiple media platforms, including mobile games. Ostensibly, it’s about 12 teenage Players, each representing a different bloodline from which all humanity is descended, who have been called together by the arrival of a meteor that signals Endgame—the point at which they must find three keys that will allow only one line to survive an apocalyptic event. As they outwit and outfight one another, they solve riddles and clues designed to help them succeed in their tasks. In addition, readers who solve the enclosed puzzles can compete to locate a (real-life) hidden treasure of gold coins. The premise is engaging, in a Hunger Games–meets–National Treasure sort of way, and the diverse global cast is welcome, but the choppy, disjointed prose (“Nothing happens. The stars are out. They stare. Wait”) quickly wears thin. The narrative shifts frequently among the overlarge cast, and it’s too soon to tell what’s signal and what’s noise in the overabundance of details. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eric Simonoff and Simon Trewin, William Morris Endeavor; David Krintzman, Morris Yorn. (Oct.)
Twelve young people between the ages of 13 and 19, each representing "the original lines of humanity," are fighting to win Endgame and secure the survival of their particular segment of the population. There can only be one winner; all other Players—and the peoples they represent—will be destroyed. The similarities to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy are obvious, but Frey and Johnson-Shelton have created a unique dystopian adventure with anchors to the real world. Inspired by Kit Williams' picture book Masquerade (1979), which had readers searching for a real-life golden hare, the authors have created a global scavenger hunt, and the prize is $500,000 in gold coins. This "super puzzle," with connections to related social media and Internet clues, is sure to attract wide interest. But the story also stands on its own. The third-person narratives from the Players are clearly labeled with characters' names and locations, making the intricately plotted action easy to follow, and readers will easily be caught by the authors' gripping, often gory descriptions of young people confronting the fight for which they've trained all their lives.
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
Endgame is like The Hunger Games on steroids.
ALA Booklist
“A unique dystopian adventure with anchors to the real world… set to become a cultural phenomenon.”
VOYA, December 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 5) - Brandi Young
Twelve teenagers around the world have been training for this day their entire lives. On this day, not only will their internal world shatter, but the physical world will begin to crumble as well. They are called into action by twelve meteorite attacks that send them to China for their first clue. From these clues, they have to piece together where the first of three keys are located and obtain that key. Though they are teenagers, they are from lineage that has been in existence since the beginning of time. Solving the clue means encountering each other, but only one can win this “Endgame.” Hidden within the book are clues layered into the text, some of which will take readers to the Internet and social media, some to the real world, and some into their own minds. If readers can solve the puzzle, they will be led to a location with a hidden key that will unlock a case full of gold coins. Endgame is like The Hunger Games on steroids. It is a much more violent book, since these teens are warriors trained since birth to fight and kill. Frey tells the story from each of the teens’ points of view, which can make the story disjointed if readers are not paying attention to who is speaking at that moment. Further into the book, the teens’ personalities emerge, and it is easier to tell the perspectives apart. This is not a class-wide read, but it has great potential for libraries and high school students. The puzzles the readers have to figure out on their own enhance the appeal of this title. Reviewer: Brandi Young; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Meteors have crashed into the Earth all around the globe, signaling the beginning of Endgame. Twelve teenagers, who have trained all their lives for this moment, must put their knowledge and deadly skills to the test as they play the game set up thousands of years ago. Only one will win Endgame and save their family line from destruction by the Sky People. The losers will be destroyed and the rest of mankind with them. Frey's new teen novel is full of action and adventure. Unfortunately, this takes precedence over other aspects of the novel. There is very little world-building or explanation of Endgame. Instead, the characters know far more than readers, despite the omniscient third-person narrator telling every aspect of the story. And while the 12 protagonists are interesting, they remain two-dimensional. It's doubtful this confusing novel, the first in a series, will collect many fans.—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL
Kirkus Reviews
A dangerous game begins with players from around the world competing for the future of the human race. Twelve Players, each a descendant of a long line of other, earlier Players, have been activated. They've trained their whole lives in the event that Endgame would begin. The stakes: The winning Player will save his or her bloodline from extinction. The objective: find three keys hidden across the globe and bring them together. The only rule: Find the keys. Everything else is fair game. It's a gimmicky premise, one that dominates the whole book. The plot is paper-thin, and the action is perfunctory at best. All the Players think methodically, constantly moving forward like sharks; this makes for monotonous sections with little to differentiate one Player from another. The standout is Sarah, a teen girl from Omaha, but her defining attributes are an annoying non-Player boyfriend and an inability to choose between him and the hunky Jago, a fellow Player. As a cross between The Hunger Games and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the concept of Endgame has potential—but only that, even after some 450 pages. By the end of the book, several Players have been removed from the field and the authors have established a twist, indicating that this potential may be realized in the forthcoming sequels. A poor start, but future installments might be worth it. (Adventure. 12-16)
USA Today
“The treasure hunters of the world may want to dust off their tools.”
The Guardian
“This book is fantastic. On every level. Please just go read it and try and disagree with me. I dare you.”
“You officially have my attention, James Frey. And to anyone reading this, the challenge is on.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Endgame Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)
HL620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years


What People are Saying About This

Debbie Carton
High-Demand Backstory: With massive promotion announcing a film adaptation, a spin-off online game, and, of course, the treasure hunt, this is set to become a cultural phenomenon. --Debbie Carton

Meet the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. All four of his books, A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning, and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, were international bestsellers.

Nils Johnson-Shelton is the coauthor of the international bestseller No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. He is also the author of the Full Fathom Five series for tweens Otherworld Chronicles.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Cleveland, Ohio

Customer Reviews

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Endgame: The Calling 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Ravenclaw226 More than 1 year ago
Got my hands on an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book and was rather excited to read it. Overall the book is quite good, and I am planning on continuing to read the rest of the books in the series when they are released. The book follows 12 teenagers who represent 12 of the original tribes that once populated the earth, these 12 are brought together in "the Calling" which starts a literal competition between the 12 to prove themselves to a strange alien race and save their tribe while the rest of humanity is destroyed. A forewarning there is a fair amount of violence as the 12 are actively trying to do anything possible to win, so I do recommend parents being conscious of what they feel comfortable with their children reading. There are several gruesome deaths and a fair amount of warfare occurring between the 12 throughout. Even so it is a phenomenal story, the plot line is quite strong and compelling (very difficult to anticipate what is coming next). Several of the main 12 are very relate-able to the reader as they fight for noble reasons while a handful of others you will hate on par with Umbridge from Harry Potter (if you've read the Potter series you understand the universal hate of the pink toad). I do knock it down to 4 stars though as there is a lot of numbers, codes, and other clues that are provided throughout the story to the 12. While it's nice to know what their clues are, at the same time most readers will probably skim over it as the constant calculations and other numerical puzzles won't make much sense right off the bat. It's also a bit distracting to continually flip between 12 narrators, although this does become less distracting as the story goes on and alliances form or deaths occur. Overall, definitely worth a read and a fantastic one for those who love Hunger Games, Divergent, and the like.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“Endgame: The Calling” is a very unique take on the apocalyptic genre, merging both a story and a puzzle.  The first to solve the puzzle will win a hefty amount, and the gold is actually on display at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas. My review is based on the story itself.  I intend to reread it and try to solve the puzzle at some point. The story was somewhat slow in the beginning, with so many characters that it was difficult to follow difficult to follow.  Mixed in with a large amount of information clearly meant to be used solely in solving the puzzle, and a very slow revelation of the nature of the story, and I became disenchanted with it.  Having a review copy, I continued to read,  and I really am glad that I did. The story slowly comes together to make a remarkable and unique plot.  All of the characters take on a life of their own, with complex feelings and backstories, leaving you feeling like you are a part of the “game” they are playing.  Without realizing it, I was emotionally invested in every character’s story.  The ending was a perfect gateway into the sequel, which I very much look forward to. I recommend this to those who enjoy apocalyptic thrillers, do not mind violence in what they read, and who are willing to play along with the puzzle.  I wish I had from the very beginning, as that would have made it more enjoyable and less difficult to get into. This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a mind blowing full out experience. The first of it's kind as far as I know. The book is a fascinating often horrific story of twelve players from all over the world, trained since birth to excell in the art of killing and survival. No player is over the age of 20 and all are decended from secret bloodlines going back thousands of generations. The winner is the last one alive, the prize is the life of their bloodline...while every other person on Earth is destroyed. They say the devil is in the details, so it would spoil your reading enjoyment to give those details away. However, as a bonus to all the readers, there are puzzles within the book you can solve and win a prize of over 2 million dollars in gold. This book is so amazing it will be the new hot vid game of 2015 and when the movie comes out I will be first in line. Jp
thesheepthatwentmoo More than 1 year ago
This is definitly one of my favorite books! If you choose to read it (which I strongly recommend) it will be a little confusing at first especially because the author keeps changing  of the different viewpoints of the characters in each. But, once you get into it more, you'll start to pick up the plot and it will become more clear. I liked the writing style and each page was intriguing to read. Anyway, there are my two cents about the book, and I really recommend reading it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was the first in a long time that I just couldn't bring myself to waste any more time reading. I read about 3/4 of the book, and it didn't get better. The premise was good, which is why I originally bought the book. But the writing was not fluid. It bothered me that the author switched points of view so rapidly. One paragraph it was one character's point of view, and the next it had switched to a character that was with the first character. Then it would switch to a character in the background. It was just too much. It made the reading choppy.  The one other complaint I have, is that if you dont care about the real-life treasure hunt, the codes and numbers in the book are often distracting from the actual story. I believe at one point the author was describing how someone's finger had been cut off, and landed pointing in a certain direction. But instead of saying pointed north, or towards the tree, or something like that, it gave a random bunch of numbers, which I assume has something to do with the real-life treasure hunt. Together, those issues were too much for me to continue any further. If you can get past those problems, the story seems interesting, and has potential. However, I couldn't keep overlooking these issues anymore.
shelcheesy More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! Think Hunger Games - but more violent, on a global scale. I will write a full review at a later date, once I am finished working on all of the puzzles and riddles presented in this story. (I love that as a reader you have the option to Play alongside the 12 Players!) But as for the story itself? Riveting. I couldn't put it down! Story pacing was close to the speed of light and every page was action packed. Even the love triangle was full of drama and intrigue - no awkward, cliche Alpha Male/Plain Jane conflict here! I can't WAIT for the sequels!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Age 15+ Violence: Tons of over-the-top violence and explosions including stabbing, brutal fistfights and over described arrow wounds/deaths Sex: Innuendo Language: Lots of language that includes strong swearing like the F and S words. Drugs: Some talk of drugs but otherwise nothing else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book based on reviews that compared it to The Hunger Games and other similar reads. It took a little while to catch on to the different character perspectives, but once it got going, it was hard to put the book down! I can't wait for the next one in this series to be released!
RLM0 More than 1 year ago
I read this and then bought the CD version. I am looking forward to the next book.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Endgame is an amazing book! Completely recommend!
Anonymous 11 months ago
This book starts fast and keeps you wanting more I lovedbit
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
Not sure I'd give this book 3.5 or 4 stars... It was pretty fast paced for the most part, contained loads of almost too detailed details which sometimes made the events seem more real and other times made it seem like he's trying too hard. Interesting characters and overall story idea. Some of the violence is downright cringe worthy and gross but, although I hate to admit it, probably realistic. That is one thing I appreciated about this book. The authors didn't shy away from the reality of the characters' positions or situations. The amount of research and work that was put into creating this book is evident and appreciated. Overall I really enjoyed this book although I didn't read it in one sitting. I'm not really into aliens so that part of the storyline sort of lost my interest but I get it. Is this my favorite book? No. Is it super cool? Hell yes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Endgame series is one, if not my favorite book of all time. A must read for sci-fi fans!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gryffindor sucks #Slytherinpride
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely love this book! At first I didn't know if I would like it but with every page I just got hooked and couldn't put it down. A must read.
Monet More than 1 year ago
I've read almost every sci fi dystopian action adventure out there...at least the popular ones. This one I would definitely add on to the list. No its not your typical "hunger games" "divergent" stuff you are use to and believe me at first I thought the same thing but I think this goes a lot more deeper and makes it seem much more real. Being a new book, I decided to write a review on why I recommend it. At first what I didn't like about it was that the objective was pretty simple. But as the story goes on, what the kids have to go through in order to win is actually different from any other book I've read because it is both mentally and physically complex and difficult. If you don't like multiple points of view (there are more than 9) then I suggest you do not read it but at least try if you really want to. I'd also advise to read it regularly so you don't forget what happened to a character since the POV does change often. If you get past the POV or have no problem with it, the story gets better after the opening of each of the characters. The characters are so unique and different. Each one tells a specific story on how they came to be a Player and how much the Endgame challenges them both mentally and physically. As being a female I find the female characters on point! They are strong yet have emotions, fearless and independent, beautiful yet dangerous. The boys aren't all macho themselves. So all in all these are really great characters (besides one american boy -_-). By and large this is a pretty good book. It kept me on my toes. It was better than the more popular sci fi action(y) books in a sense that it made it real. The authors incorporate monuments, phenomenons, and pieces from around the world to make it seem like it could actually happen. The strain the characters have from realizing how powerful this game is developed and shown in each person. Its thrilling, twisting, emotional, captivating and gruesome (yum). I doubted this in the beginning but by the end I was upset that I couldn't read the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was amazing to say the least!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't usually enjoy this type of book and thought it would be too similar to all of the other apocalyptic stories out there. It turned out to be so unique and well-written that I couldn't put it down! I can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not realize when I started how much reference to god there would be, could not continue if you are into god you may enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another book u just can't put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was exciting though intense at times. I wish I was good at puzzles because $500,000 is quite a lot of money! I also liked that the book was only like 4 or 5 dollars. I didnt realize it had just come out! But yeah, I would reccomend it. I hope to see in the news one day who solves the puzzle.