The End Games follows 16-year-old Michael and his 5-year-old brother Patrick as they make their way to safety during a zombie apocalypse. I was initially drawn to this book because I am really enjoying the zombie theme cropping up in books, TV, and movies recently (I love the Walking Dead!), and this novel is set in my wonderful home state of West Virginia. WV, and really most American regions outside of NY or CA seem to be pretty underrepresented in literature. I will say that the depiction of the rural, southern coal towns was pretty true to life (for better or worse) but does not represent the entire state.
By far, the strongest part of this novel for me was the relationship between Patrick and Michael. Michael is constantly trying to protect his brother from the new world they’re in a goes to great lengths to do so. The relationship and sibling-bond between them was really sweet. However, other characters were not nearly as developed. The biggest problem was with Captain Jopek. Without getting too spoiler-y, there are some things that he does that just leave me scratching me head, asking “Why?”. There is no background into his character to explain why he would do certain things or how it would benefit him or anyone else. Also, it should be noted that there is some romance in the book, but it is well done and not overwhelming.
Another issue that kept this from being a higher star read for me was the plot itself. The most interesting part was the very beginning before (It happens early enough, I don’t think I’m giving anything away here by saying) before they reach the Charleston safe zone. After that point, I wasn’t quite as interested and it felt a little more generic with some random antagonistic actions from Jopek thrown in.
Overall, I do think that while it wasn’t perfect for me, The End Games was a solid read. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in the zombie genre or a good brother story.