"People say they have hope for the future, but no they don't. Because hope wasn't about the future, not truly. Hope was: make me feel better now. Hope was: tell me, this second, that I'll be all right. Hope was: tell me I don't have to be different, but things will be. Hope made you feel better by letting you feel a false future..."
This book basically knocked my socks off. The End Games is set during a zombie apocalypse. Teenaged Michael and his five-year-old brother Patrick have been running from zombies since Halloween, weeks ago, when everything started. For the brothers, the zombies are like living in a video game. They follow the instructions of the Game Master, earning points for finding supplies and weapons. Too bad it isn't really a game.
Michael made the "game" up to protect his brother. Patrick has a mental impairment that makes it hard for him to face extreme situations. When things become overwhelming, he starts to hurt himself and can even shut down completely. Patrick doesn't actually believe that they are in danger at any point.
So the brothers play the "game," doing their best to survive hordes of zombies, or Bellows. Bellows is Michael's term for the zombies, so-called because they parrot back whatever is said around them. Just when I thought zombies couldn't get any creepier, this happens. To make matters worse, they get on the bad side of a religious cult that worships the Bellows. The cult wants to sacrifice Michael for killing one of their precious "angels." Fortunately, the boys are rescued and taken to a secure fortress. After all of the running, the "game," they are finally safe...or are they?
The End Games made me happy because it gave me the good, old-fashioned zombie story I have been wanting. It's pretty intense, with loads of action and thrilling scenes. The story also mixes in some drama in Michael and Patrick's backstory. There's also some humor and a very sweet story of love between two brothers. The year is only a little over halfway through, but I am calling this as one of my top reads of 2013.
I received my copy of The End Games from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available for purchase now.