The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

5.0 3
by Francisco X. Stork
     
 

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When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his… See more details below

Overview

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully--ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be;

and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life.

Nuanced in its characters and surprising in its plot developments--both soulful and funny--Pancho & D.Q. is a "buddy novel" of the highest kind: the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Caitlin Bellinger
After the loss of his parents and sister, Pancho Sanchez is filled with thoughts of taking his revenge on the man whom he believes killed his sister Rosa. Though the police say there was no proof of foul play, Pancho is convinced that Rosa's mysterious death in a hotel room was no accident. His plans of revenge are put on hold when his new guardian, the State of Arizona, sends him to live at St. Anthony's Home, a place for orphaned boys. Immediately he is assigned to help a boy named Daniel Quentin. Daniel, whom everyone calls D.Q. is dying of cancer, and together they fix up and clean the room where he plans to live out his final days. D.Q. also plans to teach Pancho about being a Death Warrior, someone who values life and living it to the fullest. Pancho travels with D.Q. to Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico's Children's Hospital where D.Q. will receive treatment which his estranged mother has insisted he take. While D.Q. is struggling with his idea of being a Death Warrior but also wanting nothing to do with the plans his mother has for him, Pancho has other plans: the man whom he believes killed his sister lives in the city, and Pancho has made it his mission to find him and get revenge for his sister. He now faces the choice between being a Death Warrior or a murder. In Stork's novel, the characters of Pancho and D.Q. must deal with feelings of anger and betrayal: Pancho with his yearning for revenge and D.Q. with his anger at his mother and his waning strength as the cancer takes hold. Stork's novel is at the same time funny and poignant. Pancho and D.Q.'s friendship offers moments of laughter despite what both characters are going through but the message comes through in the moments of the characters' lowest points: how to love life to the fullest when your heart is full of anger and it seems giving up is the easiest way out. Reviewer: Caitlin Bellinger
Sean Kottke
Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's orphanage with a singular mission: to avenge the death of his beloved sister Rosa. As he secretly tries to identify the man responsible and plot his revenge, Pancho is enlisted to assist D.Q., an idealistic young man dying of cancer who hopes to use his last days to write the Death Warrior Manifesto and convert Pancho to the gospel of fully embracing life. However, a potential love triangle between D.Q., Pancho, and the beautiful Marisol threatens to disrupt the delicate friendship that grows between the two young men as they meditate on faith, doubt, and the value of ministering to the needs of others. As he did in last year's Marcelo in the Real World, Stork uses his characters' deepest pains, joys, and dreams to compose a beautiful psalm in this engaging YA retelling of Don Quixote, as seen through the eyes of Sancho Panza. Reviewer: Sean Kottke
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Orphaned Pancho's 20-year-old mentally disabled sister is found dead in a New Mexico motel room. He meets D.Q., dying of a rare cancer, at a home for boys. D.Q.'s mother, Helen, forces him to undergo experimental chemotherapy, despite the gruesome side effects. Pancho cares for D.Q. during his stay at a Ronald McDonald-type residence. The one bright spot is Marisol, who works there. D.Q. knows that Pancho plans to find and destroy Rosa's killer. He tries to teach his new friend the way of the Death Warrior: only when you love do you truly live. Though Pancho plots the murder methodically, his plan is never believable. This derails the novel considerably and cancels any mystery that might have quickened the pace of the story. However, the New Mexico landscape is vivid and the author explores Anglo/Mexican relations subtly. Stork's characterizations are solid, from D.Q.'s probing intensity to Pancho's silent rage. Female characters are vivid as well, from Helen's passive aggression to Marisol, who displays a soulful intelligence. The narrative is dialogue heavy, but even philosophical conversations between steely Pancho and effusive D.Q. are natural, and often funny.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Publishers Weekly
Characters that are just as fully formed and memorable as in Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World embody this openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love. Seventeen-year-old Pancho Sanchez is sent to a Catholic orphanage after his father and sister die in the span of a few months. Though the cause of his sister’s death is technically “undetermined,” Pancho plans to kill the man he believes responsible (“How strange that a feeling once so foreign to him now gripped him with such persistence. He could not imagine living without avenging his sister’s death”). When D.Q., a fellow resident dying from brain cancer, asks Pancho to accompany him to Albuquerque for experimental treatments, Pancho agrees—he’ll get paid and it’s where his sister’s killer lives. D.Q. is deeply philosophical, composing a “Death Warrior” manifesto about living purposefully; through him, Pancho gradually opens to a world that he previously approached like a punching bag. Stork weaves racial and familial tension, tentative romances, and themes of responsibility and belief through the story, as the boys unite over the need to determine the course of their lives. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious bildungsroman tackles the Big Issues: love, life and death. By age 17, Pancho has given up on the first two. His sister's murder has left him empty of everything but the drive for revenge. Reluctantly, he takes on the job of accompanying the dying D.Q., who tries to recruit Pancho into his "Death Warrior" ethos. But meeting compassionate and pretty Marisol provokes both to question what in life is worth fighting for. While the lyrical prose captures the precious incidentals of quotidian existence, the characterization is troublesome. Pancho's perceptive voice and his sophisticated use of language and metaphor make his random malapropisms and constant self-description as "dumb" jarring. D.Q. is an excellent foil, charming, charismatic and expansive, but also perpetuates the unfortunate trope that illness bestows special insight and wisdom, according his musings a profundity they do not quite earn. The saintly Marisol, alas, has little identity beyond the object of male desire. Yet it will be a hard-hearted reader indeed who fails to root for the tentative unfurling of this unusual friendship or closes the book without a renewed appreciation for life's ephemeral beauty. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010

[STAR] "Characters that are just as fully formed and memorable as in Stork's Marcelo in the Real World embody this openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

[STAR] "Stork's latest marks him as one of the most promising young adult authors of the new decade." -- The Horn Book, starred review

“Complicated yet ultimately endearing characters are a Francisco Stork standard. His latest novel doesn't disappoint.” -- Chicago Sun-Times

"An intricate, engaging story, with the occasional parallel to Don Quixote." -- The Denver Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545151337
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/2010
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
717,739
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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