The Children's Book Compass

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Posted on: April 2, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco Stork.  (2010).  352 pages.  Scholastic Grades 8 and up.

Stork’s previous book, Marcelo in the Real World, a coming of age story of an autistic teen, was one of the best books of 2009.  Stork’s newest book will also be a hit with teens.  Seventeen-year- old, Pancho wants revenge for the death of his sister, Rosa, who he is convinced was murdered.  The police disagree.  They attribute Rosa’s death to natural causes.  Because Pancho’s father also died just before Rosa, Pancho is sent to an orphanage (his mother died when he was very young).  There he meets DQ a boy who is dying from cancer.  Pancho is given the job of caring for DQ which means he must accompany DQ to the hospital for treatments and to a facility for children recovering from the cancer treatments.  Pancho is willing to go with DQ because he believes he will be able to investigate Rosa’s death and find a way to kill her murderer.  However, DQ has other plans.  He wants to train himself and Pancho to become “Death Warriors.”  DQ believe that every person has been given a task by an angel on a written slip of paper before he is born – “and our job is to remember, to recollect it, and then go about doing what it says.”  DQ has written his wisdom in his “Death Warrior Manifesto” and he wants Pancho to go on a quest with him to discover their tasks.  Pancho believes his task is to get revenge for his sister’s death.  How each boy comes to terms with issues of life, death, love and their own destinies makes an absorbing read.  The complex plot and language demands a mature reader who will be richly rewarded for his efforts.  Some readers will enjoy the connections with Don Quixote.  Stork is a talented writer I look forward to his next book.

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