May 03, 2013

Following the rules in a deadly game

By T. Michael Martin
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When 17-year-old Michael and his 5-year-old brother run away from their abusive stepfather and into the West Virginia forest on Halloween eve, they know their world is about to change. But they don’t expect the rise of the undead.

To prevent the anxiety-prone Patrick from panicking, Michael convinces his brother that their flight is all a “Game,” just like the videogames they love. A Game Master gives them new instructions each night, the rules are always clear and no cheating is allowed. But when a zealous, enigmatic military captain brings the runaways to a Safe Zone that’s anything but safe, the structure of the Game begins to deteriorate. Without the stability and sense of meaning that the Game provides, how will Michael keep Patrick from a meltdown . . . or decide who deserves his trust in a world that’s been reset to a completely new level of play?

Like Carrie Ryan in The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, T. Michael Martin rarely refers to his walking dead as “zombies.” Instead, they're “Bellows,” “Zeds” or just “the Infected.” Whatever they’re called, Martin’s monsters are just as grotesque, scary and unpredictable as the best undead creatures from classic horror movies. At times the authorial voice is inconsistent, and readers may get frustrated with Michael’s unreliability as a narrator. But the clever blending of the perpetually popular zombie apocalypse motif with the lingo of an emerging video game culture remains a winning combination, making The End Games a post-apocalyptic tale full of spooky action and twisty surprises.

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The End Games

The End Games

By T. Michael Martin
Balzer + Bray
ISBN 9780062201805

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