Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (YA review)

Jacket description:
"Death. It surrounds Pancho. His father, in an accident. His sister, murdered. His own plans to trace her killer. And D.Q.-a guy Pancho's age who's dying of cancer. That is, if he'll ever shut up.

Love. D.Q. is writing the Death Warrior Manifesto, a guide to living out his last days fully. He needs just one more thing: the love of the beautiful Marisol. But as Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling for Marisol as well...

Faith. And choices that seemed right and straightforward become tender, tentative, real. While D. Q> faces his own crisis of doubt, Pancho is inexorably drawn to a decision: to revenge his sister and her death or to embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life."

Well, Francisco X. Stork has done it again and written a compelling, thought provoking novel which will lead you to question the ways of the world and fall in love with his characters.

I spent four months in Albuquerque, New Mexico while my son was in the hospital, where much of this novel takes place and have even stayed several nights at Casa Esperanza before moving into the Ronald McDonald House. All of the places Pancho and D.Q. talk about and go to, the streets Pancho walks down, the UNM Children's Hospital where D.Q. receives his treatment...it's all familiar to me, helping the story connect on a somewhat different level. It dredged up some memories, most unpleasant, but also allowed me to relive some of those months through a struggling young man's eyes.

Pancho is a tough boy and comes across just as so. You can see into his heart though, deep down where the sensitivity lies, and Stork brings that to the surface with perfect pacing and believability.

There are some flaws in the book. First of all, the cover is not entirely appealing. I'm not sure I would give it a second glance if I were a teen looking for the "next great read." And at times, D.Q. and his description of just what the Death Warrior Manifesto is gets a little too "deep" and unlike the thoughts of most teenagers, even if D.Q. is wise beyond his years.

I can't say I liked it as much as Marcelo, but that's ok. It's different, with a unique setting and some powerful characters. I can definitely see both guys and girls getting into this one, as they could with Marcelo, which is awesome.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Francisco X. Stork
352 pages
Young Adult
Arthur A. Levine
March 2010
Review copy received from publisher

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Krista/Tower of Books said...

I kind of feel like Francisco X. Stork is the next Sherman Alexie. Haha, but I'm glad you liked this. I was afraid it wouldn't even come close to Marcelo.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I loooved Marcelo in the Real World, and I didn't know Stork had a new one out. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!