Yes, The Calling is Hunger Games 2.0 || The Calling by James Frey

The CallingR7

Author: James Frey
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Endgame
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 461
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Goodreads  • The Book Depository

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.

This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

no matter how you look at it

Okay, so the Calling is a pretty not-exactly-a-new new book, so there’s been enough reviews to get the general – and probably – biggest nitpick of this whole shabang. It’s the Hunger Games without the Hunger, and a whole lotta emphasis on End.

The Hunger Game isn’t literary’s equivalent to the wheel, I get that (I’ve read pages and pages of hater reviews saying just that, so I know) but since it’s an uber-famous book with fantastico movies to boot, you cannot deny those blatant parallels.

You wanna get a list?

In this world we call Panem Earth, we have twelve districts lines where they each put forth a tribute player in a battle to the death.


Wait a minute…

Or better yet, look at this fabulous review:

“In a world similar to Earth,”

(In a world similar to Panem)

“there are 12 bloodlines”

(There are 12 districts)

“Each bloodline has a champion between the ages of 13 and 17”

(Each district has a tribute between the ages of 13 and 18)

“And then one day they’re called to fight, and all the bloodlines but the winners will be exterminated. They’re fighting to be the last race.”

(And then one day they’re called to fight, and all the tributes but the winners will be exterminated. They’re fighting to be the last tribute.)

– Gillian


okay, fine, I get you’re name is bob

I’ve got this (un)healthy thing for names, right? Like, I love them. I spent days choosing out to decide what to name my dogs, making sure that they got rememberable, unique names. (In case you’re wondering, they got named Spot and Fluffy*)

But it’s so unpleasant to read the names in Endgame: the Calling because of how often it’s repeated.

I’m on the first page, and every other fcking sentence has the person’s name




It’s like Frey doesn’t want us to forget the names (which is totally plausible since there’s twelve POVs and then some) but he’s constantly shoving it down our throats, every sentence starting with Sarah Sarah Sarah or Jago Jago Jago or whatever the name is.

*nah i’m kidding. they got named griffin and saber


who r u?

there’s twelve POVs and then some

I was not kidding. Nope nope nope nope


We’ve got Sarah and Jago and Marcus and Maccabee and Baits and Chiyoko and An and Christopher and Kala and Alice and Shari and (was that twelve? Oh… wait, missing one. It’s thirteen, actually) and finally… Hilal.

Was I kidding? Nah man. I was DOORNAIL SERIOUS.

It’s worse because you’ve gotta remember who tf are you  + what do you look like + what’s your line name (since that’s how they reference each other half the time [“The Cahokian” “the Olmec” “the Mu” “the Minoan”]) and how close are you to dying because trust me there’s a shit ton of that here.


loves diversity like nothing else

This book is diverse.

The settings are diverse.

The characters are diverse.

Holymotherofguacamoley this book is so. damn. diverse and I love it love it love it love.


Characters are from everywhere and the settings are scattered around the globe and it makes me happy just so so happy.

Happy Claudia is a good Claudia.


bottom line?



Was it good?

Or was it… not?


I did. I actually did. Despite many of the misgivings I had in the beginning, I ended up enjoying it. The tension is pretty decent, and even with the amount of transparency we get by reading through all the POVs the book still had me wondering and predicting who’d end up dying.

There’s a lot of dying.


anyway. this book was good. it was pretty good. i wouldn’t say great, because it’s not really greeaat, but i liked it.


#awkwardendings byeeeeeee

When the Age Matches the Face

When The Age Matches the Face

YA fans are pretty damn weird.

I mean, I would know since I’m one of those weird people. Hell, I love being weird. I own it. We own it. Damn fine too, if I say so myself.

I have accepted the weirdness (and the fantasticness) of the bookish community with everything I’ve got, loving the strange-as-hell conversations we randomly have to the mildly-threatening-but-still-loving ways we push our favourite books onto our friends. It’s what makes the book community amazing. Like, full-of-life amazing. Like, chocolate-cheese-cake-amazing.

But what I’m always perplexed about? The love interests we so dearly support.

Now, back up a bit. I’m not going to point fingers saying ohmigodheissogross or ohmigodwhyHIM? to any of the love interest options out there, but I’m just trying to point something out.

Let me list you some love interests:

  • the Darkling from The Grisha
  • Edward Cullen from Twilight
  • Prince Ash from The Iron Fey
  • Rowan Whitethorn from Throne of Glass
  • Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices
  • Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • Raffe from Penryn & the End of Days

Notice anything? Aside from their massive (or at least large) fanbase made up of screaming fans that support them like hell, they’re also like a billion years old.

These love interests that have so many people swooning, fanning, and just plain loving them are probably five times older than their counterpart love interest. (Also, I’m sorry there aren’t any girls up there. I’m trying to think of immortal/female characters with super longevity, but there doesn’t seem to be many that I can think of.) And almost nobody bats an eye.

I mean, don’t you think that’s sort of odd? I do, and I support half of them on this list.

So what? you say, coming to defend your babies. They’re a hundred years, whatever. They’re still uber dreamy and soooooooo amazing.

Sure. But that’s when they’re looking like they walked out of GQ and haven’t aged a day past seventeen. What if they looked their age?

Let’s take Edward Cullen from Twilight. This dude is like a hundred years old. One fucking century. And he’s falling in love with someone who is basically a child compared to him.

Holy shit, anyone?

Sure, it’s super romantic. Of course it is. A lonely soul, never having found love his entire life until her. Our main character. Someone who is special enough to capture their heart and make them fall into love. Oh sweet, sweet, perilous love.

But again: if they looked their age?

I mean, I guess nobody bats an eye with this whole by-the-way-im-older-than-your-grandpa thing since they all look like teenagers, so who the fuck cares? I certainly didn’t when I loved Prince Ash and Tamlin. They look like they’re teenagers, so whatever, yeah?

That’s why I think it’s really weird. Because I’m really sure that if they looked like their age without all that Immortality4You moisturizer that they all use to look seventeen, and they fell in love with their love interests, I’m quite sure that we’d be a bit uncomfortable. Someone older than my grandpa and looks the part falling in love with a teenage girl? So totally gross! But if you look like you’re seventeen despite your clearly-not-seventeen age number? Ohmigod hawt.

I’m totally not hating against those love interest or their fans. Honestly, some of my faves are up on that list. But I’m just trying to voice out what I’ve been thinking for a while. This isn’t an attack on anyone, it’s just something that’s been swirling around in my brain. And I want to hear what other people think.

so tell me. what do you think of all this? does it not matter to you? would it change your perspective on the love interest if they didn’t look as young as they’ve been written, and instead looked like what they’d naturally look like (or at least what an ordinary person would look like)?

Because Coming Back is the New Black

Because Coming Back is the New Black

Let’s pretend I wasn’t dead for the past few months, yeah?

A new year calls for something new, and there is a lot of new things going on here at PenMarkings.


the purge

I’ve been blogging for… six months? Six and a bit? Six and a day and an hour? Probably.


Because I’m crazy about new beginnings and starting things clean (and because my past posts mortify me like nothing else) I’ve commenced a purge of all my blog posts from the past, leaving a handful left that I personally loved. The posts aren’t really deleted; they’re in a folder stored somewhere on my computer. Maybe I’ll bring them out and dust them off so I can make them fresh and new.


the looks

A new avi?

Claudia, is that you?

Why yes, yes that is me. I am actually not a cartoon piece of albino flesh but a person who looks great in Black and White. Also not black and white in real life. Just a disclaimer. Also does not look that great in black and white, regardless of what I said. Also a disclaimer.

But new profile picture aside, did you notice something new when you arrived here? Did you?

Did you?

Did you?

Behold, a new site design!

cue applause

Thank you, thank you. Now gaze upon the Before and the After, which will make you appreciate my new design. Because my last one was… uh… this.

Sure, it’s not bad, but it had three problems:

  • The blue, which turned horribly neon and impossibly blinding on certain screens
  • The search bar, which was broken for what reasons I will never know
  • The theme, which, while nice, did restrict the variety I allowed myself to have since I am a sucker for keeping to the theme even if that’s clearly

It’s been (sorta?) fixed, so I’m happy with it.


the voice

Okay, so my main beef with old PM was that it just wasn’t… me. It wasn’t.

The voice was wrong – it was a strange fusion of properness and stiff words with nonsensical walls of text. Nothing that made sense. Nothing that was actually me.

The real me? I speak I talk I think differently than how I’m blogging, and I love that voice rather than the one I used before.

I would always filter my thoughts, trim and tweeze and tear it apart to make it more, more professional than I really was. I was unhappy. I was funny, because the moments where I was talking properly, blogging properly, wasn’t even on my own blog. It was for guest posts.

So here I am. Speaking clearer than I did last year the way I want it.

A fresh start begins with a clean slate. This post is my clean slate.
So, nice to meet you. My name’s Claudia, and this is my blog.

It’s All About The Villains

Its All About the Villains

You’ve got Voldemort, Snow, Kronos, this whole line of evil villains hellbent on doing something incredibly evil, or the driving force behind the hero’s pain. They stand as the opposite of everything our hero believes in, a dark shadow in their world. We hate them. It’s only natural.

Or do we?

Sure, there are villains out there we just despise with ever fiber of our being (think Umbridge, the witch.), but honestly? I rather like villains.

Villains carry so much weight in the story. They are one of the many pillars a good story stands on, and if you make them weak, the whole book goes crashing down. Who wants to read a book where the villain is essentially a wallflower who cowers behind a curtain?

They can make the story so much more interesting for the readers. I love complex villains because sometimes they make you fall in love with them, and you have to struggle not to justify every evil deed they do. Think of the Darkling. I love the guy. He has a charm around him that I love, and he’s not truly evil. He thinks he’s doing something for the greater good, even though his methods are less than stellar. He’s also, well, the Darkling. And even though he’s evil, I was still rooting for him and Alina till the end, evilness be damned. Of course I know he’s a bad guy, he kills people, which makes it a lot more interesting for me as a reader because I have to tell myself “bad Claudia. He will kill you. Baad.”

Villains can also add so many layers to the story. They help provide the conflict, serving as the Big Bad whom the hero must destroy. They challenge our hero every step of the way, helping him grow and change from start to finish. Sometimes the villain isn’t always 100% bad, and that adds the question: is he really the bad guy? Should our hero really be going against him?

There also wouldn’t be much of a story without a villain, an antagonist blocking our hero from their dreams. Why bother read a story where you know the hero’s going to win with nothing in his path to stop them? When a villain throws the hero in a bit of a loop, making his path a twisty-turny one instead of a simple line from Point A to Point B, it keeps the anticipation high because who knows what’ll happen next.

I know some people just don’t like villains, but I personally enjoy them. Some of them just have that charm that allows them to plant themselves in our hearts, and others are just so damn fun to hate, satisfaction flooding you when they get the sticking they deserve.

Villains, heroes, sidekicks, flunkies. They all bring balance to a story. Without them, there wouldn’t be a story.

What do you guys think about villains? Love them? Hate them? Don’t care for ’em? What are some of your favourite villains to love and your favourite villains to hate?

Defining Strong

Defining Strong

Let’s take a moment and define strong, shall we?

In Google, the first thing it brings up are these two definitions:

1. Having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
“she cut through the water with her strong arms”
synonyms: powerful, muscular, brawny, powerfully built, strapping, sturdy, burly, heavily built, meaty, robust, athletic, tough, rugged, lusty, strong as an ox/horse


2. Able to withstand great force or pressure.
“cotton is strong, hard-wearing, and easy to handle”
synonyms: secure, well built, indestructible, well fortified, well protected, impregnable, solid

… and those are definitely good meanings. Pretty spot-on. And this is evident when we say “strong heroes & heroines” we conjure up the image of fierce warriors, strong and brave in battle. But I want to talk a bit about a different kind of strong.

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You ThereR8

Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Series: N/A
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads • Amazon • The Book Depository

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.


And maybe some people are like collages – no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.


I’ll Meet You There was recommended to me by a friend, and I was wary, because I have a nice knack of disliking a book while everyone else liked it. I didn’t doubt the book was great – I just wasn’t sure it was for-me-great.

Oh, how I’m sorry about that doubt. You haven’t steered me wrong yet, Tika!

I enjoyed this book so so so so so much. There’s so many different, complex issues put into here and Demetrios handles them all so beautifully.

There are so many things that makes this book different from all the YA contemporaries out there. For one, the drama is not superficial. It’s not based on cheap miscommunication that could have been resolved three chapters into the story. It’s not because of “some girl” or “some boy” or any old flames coming to haunt them. The drama is about the characters and about scars that never heal.

Josh Mitchell has returned from war, and war changes you. You don’t go back to your old self, flirting with every girl you catch a whiff of. You don’t because you can’t. War is brutal. There are so many things you want to unsee, that you wish you never saw but you can’t and so you’re stuck with it and you just have to deal with it it because what else are you going to do?

Skylar Evans has two choices: take care of her deadbeat mom in a rundown town that she hates or abandon her to her succumbing funds and live a happy life in Frisco. Sure, there are you saints out there who would pick their mom in a heartbeat, but for Skylar, it’s not that easy. She hates the town. She needs something more. Something bigger. Something better. And she doesn’t know which side to take – the one where her family bonds keep her in Creek View, or the side of her that knows she deserves something better.

This book is just too… augh. Too good, I tell you.

And let me just say that I am beyond happy that there is a platonic relationship between Skylar and Chris. Yessiree folks, you read that right. A platonic relationship… between a boy and a girl! Gasp!

This book is very character driven, so you won’t expect much in terms of events. But the character aspect is done very, very well. The voices are spectacular and you can see the struggles they have to deal with as everyone’s just living their life and everything for them is so normal and they’re just there on the outside because they just have too much weighing them down. You get flashbacks of war and suddenly you feel like your their again with blood on your hands as you see your friends die one by one, or you have your mom to deal with who you know you should just leave behind but you can’t. You just can’t.

I am forever thankful I got to read this book, and reading the acknowledgements, I can see Heather did extensive research for this book. Pick it up. Please.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it? What would you do if you were in Skylar’s position?

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales



Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Kobo Book Store
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Goodreads • Amazon

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.


I believe that a person’s taste in music tells you a lot about them. In some cases, it tells you everything you need to know.



When it comes to book, I usually classify them in three broad categories: a bad plot with good characters, a good plot with good characters, and a good plot with bad characters. This Song Will Save Your Life falls in the last category.

I’m down for a book that’s about growth and finding yourself and most of all being comfortable with yourself and exactly who you are. I love books where reality is so sharp and brutal, the character being so easy to relate and sympathize with.

But in a book about bullying, it’s always a good idea for the reader to sympathize with the protagonist. How are they going to care otherwise? This, my friend, is where This Song Will Save Your Life went wrong. Very, very, wrong.

Let’s start with that opening quote. To an extent, I agree that you could learn a thing or two about the person from their taste in music. Like how you can tell someone’s generally a happy, uplifting person if his songs are all upbeat and light. I have no problem with that statement. Nothing at all.

Until I read this:

The popular music wasn’t interesting-bad, but it was bad-bad. Auto-Tuned vocalists who couldn’t really sing; offensively simplistic instrumentation; grating melodies. Like they thought we were stupid.

What? Last time I checked, just because someone’s into pop music doesn’t mean they’re stupid. I’m not pop’s biggest fan, I’ll admit – but honestly.

Now, in the beginning of the book, Elise wants to be popular. She wants to be liked by everyone, be in the circle instead of standing outside in the cold. I get that. I resonate with that. I’m the girl at school who knows she has many groups to sit at lunch, but doesn’t truly fit in with anyone. I understand that yearning, that want to be included. Part of something. But then she repeatedly mentions that everyone in her school are idiots, and I have to wonder: why would you want to be friends with idiots that you clearly look down upon? If you look down on them so much, clearly marking yourself superior, why bother to be friends with them at all?

Elise does end up having some “friends” in school – I put friends in quotes because her offensive attitude makes me question that.

You may wonder how I managed to make these friends. Well, I will tell you: making friends is actually not that hard when you drop every single one of your standards

See what I mean by her superior attitude? If I was as alone as she says she is, I wouldn’t think so little of my friends since clearly no one likes her. I’d be a bit thankful, really.

Speaking of thankful:

I bet I do seem exhausted, Ms. Wu. I bet I do seem less engaged. I was up all night, doing something that really love, and I’m sorry, but I just didn’t reserve enough energy to fully participate in this miserable, mandatory little exercise in public education.

Pardon my french in the next couple paragraphs, but she’s really pissing me off at this point. I can feel the anger all over again.

Hold it right there. Last time I checked, I thought you wanted attention? Now you have it. So shut the f*ck up. The teachers don’t come to school to deal with an attitude like that. Elise didn’t say that quote out loud, but I wish she did so the teacher can give her a nice grounding back into reality.

I think one of the biggest issues I had with Elise is her want for attention. Earlier in the book (some may think this is a spoiler, but really it happens to early to be considered as such) Elise attempts to kill herself. Only she doesn’t go through with it. But what does she do? She calls Amelia (a girl in her school) to tell her about it.

Sorry, no. Just no. I was so frustrated with Elise that I had to take a breather for a moment.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d call someone and tell them, “hey, I was cutting myself and thinking about committing suicide,” if I didn’t want them to call the ambulance. Because of course that’s what any sane person would do. They’d call the f*cking ambulance because what the hell are they supposed to do? Nod and say, “that’s great!?”

And get this: later, when Amelia asks Elise why she seems mad at her, Elise said she betrayed her. Then Elise has the nerve to believe she did nothing wrong when she notices Amelia shying away from her and being upset.

I look at her sharply, wondering if this was a reference to the time I cut myself. But how could it be? Ms. Wu didn’t know about that. Nobody at school knew, except for Amelia. Amelia, who now thought I had done something to hurt her, apparently. When all I had ever wanted was for her to just be my friend.

Gee. Nothing says friendship by calling them a traitor.

And Elise, here’s a tip: when you make friends, try going up there and actually talking to them, hmm? I’m pretty antisocial myself but I actually talk to people and when I don’t, I don’t expect them to be my friends.

I felt inklings of sympathy for Elise at moments, because she still did suffer from bullying and it’s never nice to read about that, but it just got squashed down by something she did or said, and I just started disliking her more and more.

This entire review turned out to be a bit of a rant, and I’m sorry about that. To be honest, I’m not sure why I continued this book. Maybe because I saw all those glowing reviews and wanted to believe I could find a trace of it. Sadly, I didn’t.

Maybe you’ll like this book. Maybe you won’t. If you did, please don’t yell at me. It’s not good for your health. And remember: I have my opinion, you have yours. Nothing wrong with that. And if I offended anyone (since I know there are so many people who relate to it), I am truly sorry. Really, I am.

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 321
Format: Hardcover
Source: Chapters Indigo
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads • Amazon

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

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