Monday, June 25, 2012

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco Stork

Pancho has nothing left but revenge. His mother died when he was young; his  father was killed in a tragic accident; and his sister's murderer is walking free. But, not for long. Pancho has a very clear and precise plan: find the  murderer and kill him. After that, Pancho doesn't care what happens to himself.  At least, he didn't until he met D.Q., a fellow resident of St. Anthony's Home. 

D.Q. suffers from a rare form of cancer that is rapidly killing him. As a  result, he decides to write the Death Warriors Manifesto in an effort to teach  others about the fullness of life. Struggling with his own set of issues, he  sees something in Pancho worth saving. As these two become unlikely friends, they learn about love, loss, and forgiveness during the last summer of the death warriors. 

This is simply a wonderful story about friendship. Of course, there is a love triangle, but Stork deals with it so succinctly that it adds to  the overall message instead of distracts from it. Also, this is the kind of  story that can easily fall into cliches and predictable subplots; luckily, the  author keeps it moving by connecting the reader with each character's struggles  and choices that they face when they approach a fork in the road that has  lasting effects.  

Something else that I appreciated without even  realizing it was the quiet mastery with which Stork conveyed this story. I am a bit tired of overly dramatic and violent scenes that some authors feel they need  to include to present the intensity of the moment. But, this author was able to  portray those same emotions (and intensity) simply by creating well-developed  characters who the reader felt like she "knew." For instance, he was even able 
to humanize the murderer so that the reader found herself struggling with  Pancho's desire for revenge. 

All-in-all, this novel is a realistic look  at a young man struggling for justice in his life. Just when he thought he was  all alone, someone reached out to save him - even when he didn't want to be  saved. Through it all, Pancho is provided choices, like all of us, and he must  realize that for every action, there is a equal or lesser reaction.  

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