First book i had read by this author. I liked the look of the book from the description and expected more from the book than i got. It was an interesting read and the main characters both had a different look on life one losing the battle with cancer one who had lost interest in living at all after losing everything that meant anything to him. I did enjoy how the 2 characters developed through out the book and a reluctant Pancho soon found a friend in DQ. I also enjoyed how the author portayed how precious life is and how DQ still wanted to enjoy every moment of it no matter how bad the situation got. The main bad points about the book is it felt like little was going on in the book and there seemed to be very little action within the book altho the book was not meant to be action packed i did feel like it dragged on a touch coming to its eventual conclusion. Overall the book was an average read and i wouldnt be against trying another book by this author. I couldnt see myself reading it again further down the line but would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book that puts a different look on cancer, death and love.
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors begins by introducing us to two very different teenage boys who both seem to be set on the path towards death. For D.Q., the death is his own. He's sick with an inoperable cancer that is slowly draining the life out of him, and seems to have come to terms with the end that he feels is probably inevitable. For Pancho, the death is one he intends to inflict. He's convinced that his sister was murdered, and since the police aren't interested he's determined to bring the killer to justice in his own way. For the reader, what follows is a powerful and poignant story of male friendship, coming-of-age and what it really means to be alive.
Male leads are something of a minority in YA fiction, and Stork spoils us here with not one but two complex and authentic male characters. Our protagonist is Pancho, whose recent life has been defined by loss and has brought him to a point where his own future means nothing to him. He wants revenge, and fully expects that he'll eventually end up in prison as a result. Nothing else matters, because he has nothing else. He doesn't talk if he can help it, and when threatened his natural response is to fight. He's a tough guy, not a girl's idealised version of a tough guy, and that's probably what makes him such a fascinating character. In contrast, secondary character D.Q. is a boy who dwells on the meaning of the life. He's a big talker. He knows the cancer will probably kill him, and this knowledge is precisely what makes him want to find his purpose and really live while he still has the chance. For some reason, when Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's home for boys, D.Q. feels a connection. He's sure that Pancho will be the one to help him fulfil his purpose, despite the fact that Pancho would rather be left alone.
And so begins a strangely beautiful friendship, and a journey that takes us to the edge of death for both boys - in very different ways. When D.Q.'s estranged mother insists that he come to Alberquerque to undergo a last-chance attempt at a new treatment, he convinces Pancho to accompany him. Since Alberquerque is the hometown of the man he suspects of causing his sister Rosa's death, Pancho agrees. The mystery of Rosa's death is intertwined with D.Q.'s own quest to find his purpose, and the two boys' inner journeys are in many ways like two halves of the same coin. This lends the book a kind of emotional richness that allows one character's experience to give us insight into the other's, and that ultimately means we come to care deeply about both of them.
Though the subject matter might sound a little sombre, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is written with the kind of wry humour and matter-of-factness that simply tells it how it is. It may be a little too contemplative for some readers' tastes, but it's the kind of story that will leave a lasting impression. It's frank and funny and thoughtful. I started it thinking, like the characters, that I knew exactly where their stories were heading. I didn't, and neither did they. This one is full of surprises.
Pancho is the archetypal kid from the wrong side of the tracks. He is spending his formative years bounced from place to place after losing his father to an accident and his disabled sister, in what Pancho suspects to be an act of murder. He is an angry young man, fighting his way through school and is resentful to authority.
He is convinced of the fact that his sister was killed and is consumed by his need for revenge, searching for the man he thinks committed the crime so he can shoot him.
When Pancho crosses the line again, his social worker puts him in the care of Father Concha at St Anthony's orphanage. It is here that he meets DQ, a young man dying from a brain tumour.
Forced together they strike up an unlikely friendship when they travel to New Mexico so that DQ can undergo a course of experimental surgery. DQ sees a project in Pancho and tries to teach him the ways of the Death Warrior, a manifesto for viewing the world with love.
When they meet a girl named Marisol and begin to compete for her affections, Pancho realises he has to chose between revenging his sisters death and living his life on the path of the Death Warrior.
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a very unusual in the respect it shows to its young audience. The novel assumes an intelligence and sophistication on the behalf of it's readers that is refreshing to see.
It expects that they will be able to understand and appreciate the complicated nuances of the relationships within the book and at no point shies away from tackling complicated and demanding issues. This book is about nothing less than life, death and faith. Along the way it takes in disability, discrimination, suicide, murder and terminal illness.
That said there is a lot of joy within the pages. It is a fun book to read. The central relationship is really well crafted and forms a solid core around which the themes are woven.
Stork's book sits at the literary end of the YA cannon, but don't expect waffling description, he writes with powerful, concise and punchy prose. It is non-flashy, but in parts really beautiful.
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is sophisticated and affecting YA fiction and I get the feeling it will be picking up a number of awards this year.
Two very unlikely friends set off to explore the meaning of life and death. Sixteen year old Pancho is orphaned and wants to avenge the death of his disabled sister, Rosa, when he finds himself in St Anthony's, a residential home, being cared for by Father Concha. There he meets DQ, short for Daniel Quentin, dying from cancer and small and fragile, despite being the same age as Pancho. DQ is trying to make sense of his own impending death as Pancho is trying to make sense of the death of his sister.
Together they go to hospital in Albuquerque for experimental treatment for DQ, paid for by his guilt-ridden mother, and they both fall in love with Marisol, a student helper in a respite home near the hospital. Francisco Stork has painted a vivid picture of an angry teenager in Pancho, who gradually softens when he helps to care for seriously sick kids in the respite home but who still does not really trust adults even by the end of the book. Stork does not try to pull a veil over the realities of childhood illness and I am sure that authentic voice will be appreciated by young readers. This is an excellent book, quite original and very readable.
Sancho believes his sister has been murdered and wants to avenge her death, D.Q. has terminal cancer and wants to make the most of his remaining time. They meet in an orphanage and a friendship develops as they prepare to fight their respective battles. The story is relatively straightforward, but written with considerable grace and without pandering to young readers. What really elevates this book however is the character development. Considerable care has been taken to create three-dimensional people who progress as the story unfolds, and to invest all of them with some degree of sympathy. The story also has a gently positive, life-affirming message without being preachy. Deserves to be a great success.