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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,793 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
Two young men -- one dying of cancer, one planning a murder -- explore the true meanings of death and life in the tense and passionate new novel from the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assig
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Mock Printz 2011
11th out of 61 books — 160 voters
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Printz 2011
7th out of 33 books — 42 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Maggie Stiefvater
Aug 15, 2010 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Francisco X. Stork’s latest, THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, and I think I’m going to have a hard time reviewing it. I know why I liked it so well, and it’s the same reason why I liked his last novel (MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD). I’m just not certain it’s the most convincing-sounding reason for me to love a novel. It makes for a review consisting of mostly emotion and precious little fact. But I think I’m going to say it anyway.

Basically, it’s this: both of Stork’s
(Audible Review)

Though I love Francisco X. Stork and the last book I read from him (Marcelo and the Real World) I wasn't as excited to read his newest book. After reading the book jacket for The Last Summer of The Death Warriors, I was reluctant to read it during the holiday season thinking it would be another downer, a definite no-no for me this time of the year. But after reading Maggie Stiefvater's review of it, I thought of giving it another chance. And good thing I did because it delivered
Feb 03, 2010 Newengland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, finished-in-2010
So you want to be a Death Warrior? First you’ll have to fully accept your opponent – you know, the hooded guy with the rusting scythe – even if you’re seventeen-years-old and still a virgin, for chrissakes. Then you’ll have to repeat after me: “We’re all dying, even if we don’t happen to have brain cancer at the moment.” Finally, you’ll need your weapons. Love and time. Can’t get enough of those for the daily wars, I’ll tell you. Tempus fugit ain’t the beginning of it when you finally are one wi ...more
May 27, 2010 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Another great ya realistic fiction/coming-of-age story from Stork, author of the great "Marcelo in the Real World." Strangely enough, this is the second teen book I've read in recent months that pays homage to "Don Quixote" and in which the teen character based on Don Quixote is dying from a neurodegenerative condition (Libba Bray's "Going Bovine" was the other one). Unlike Bray's book (which I found incredibly maudlin and poorly written), Stork tackles heavy issues like confronting death as a y ...more
Jun 24, 2010 xtina rated it it was amazing
Wow. It has been a long time since I've come across a YA book with as much depth as this one. Frankly, it completely floored me.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a modern day adaptation of Cervantes' Don Quixote. But you don't need to be at all familiar with that work in order to appreciate this novel.

Pancho is a robust young man (17 yrs old), driven by the desire to avenge the murder of his sister. D.Q. is also 17, but seems ageless, wise beyond his years, and is dying of cancer. On the
Jan 11, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How exactly does an author follow up on a title as incredible as MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD? After reading an ARC of Francisco X. Stork's THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, I think I've found the answer. It's a different book -- different in voice, different in setting and mood -- but it has that same magical something that breathes life into the characters so that the people who inhabit these pages -- Pancho and D.Q. and Marisol -- feel every bit as real and vivid as Marcelo did in Stork's f ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-lit, spiritual
No one else in YA fiction is doing what Francisco X. Stork is doing right now. Perhaps no one else can! And that is writing beautiful coming-of-age novels, that involve teens who deal with their immediate personal struggles, by grappling with the eternal and the universal. In "Death Warriors", Stork's terminally-ill character D.Q., explains that the immediate and the eternal are one in the same:

"Being a part of that other dimension is like being with Marisol. We feel as if everything matters. W
Jul 12, 2010 Donalyn rated it really liked it
I really liked this book until the end, when the climax of the story seemed abrupt and unsatisfying. Pancho's conflict over the death of his sister seemed resolved too neatly and other conflicts in the story were left open at the end.

I do enjoy Franciso X. Stork's writing, though, and I will look for more books from him in the future.
Kim Zarins
Apr 17, 2015 Kim Zarins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Wow, I'd been holding off on this book for some reason, and I'm so glad I finally could enjoy it on audio book. Basically, I started cleaning my office compulsively to justify listening to a terrific story well told. If you liked MARCELO for its focus on nuanced characters who have to make difficult choices, you'll definitely love this book. This is the kind of book that makes me reaffirm my faith in young adult literature. It's uplifting and life-affirming without being fake. That's not easy to ...more
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just finished reading The Last Summer of Death Warriors, and I did not like it at the very beginning but as I pass chapters the book became more interesting. It present different characters but the main two are D.Q and Pancho. Pancho's father had die of cancer and his sister was murder in a hotel. D.Q has cancer and everyone think that he is planing his death in a journal, but what he really does is wanted to survive and bit cancer. They both felt like falling in love with the same girl name m ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
When I read Marcelo in the Real World, I messed up and called this book its sequel. The books look similar and probably had the same designer, but aren't related.

Pancho is an angry teenager forced to move into an orphanage because his parents are dead and his older sister was just possibly murdered. He's obsessed with finding the man who caused her death, mainly because she was a mentally challenged woman who couldn't defend herself. But Pancho is forced into an almost servant relationship with
Eva Mitnick
Jul 05, 2010 Eva Mitnick rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
What do people see when they look at you? Do different people see different things? Do any of them see the "real" you? Can anyone see a complete picture? Is there a "real" you at all, and how do you find out what it is?

These are the sorts of questions that arose as I read this excellent coming-of-age novel. Pancho is a New Mexico teenager to whom several awful things have happened all at once - his dad died in an accident, his older "simple" sister died in what Pancho considers to be suspicious
Kris Springer
Jun 25, 2010 Kris Springer rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Marcelo in the Real World but really admire this book. It's so good it seems like it was easy to write, which means it was probably really really hard. Stork writes small moments & big moments equally well--capturing dialogue and expressions and humor. Stork created very real characters in Pancho and DQ, and their dialogue and actions are completely believable and worth reading about. This is a book that's very similar to Going Bovine by Bray--another book I love--about the meaning ...more
Aug 16, 2010 Ellen rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya
I really wanted to like this book since I enjoyed Marcelo in the Real World and this book got great reviews......However, this one just didn't ring true for me. I cannot imagine any kid talking the way D.Q. did or even the smartest teen being so worldly wise. The situations are forced and the ending just didn't work. Also, it was way too didactic to be appealing to any teen! I can't imagine any teen to whom I could recommend this book. Very disappointing.
Based on The Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote de La Mancha, which I've never read, and therefor don't feel equipped to discuss.

Two teen boys, dealing with overwhelming circumstances, look for a way to carry on.

In contrast to The Marbury Lens, nothing very dramatic takes place. Pancho has lost his mother, then father, then sister before the book begins; Daniel was diagnosed with brain cancer six months before.

Instalove doesn't save anyone, although "love" as a more universal goal is often mentioned.
Jan 08, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Pancho's days are numbered. He has just arrived at the orphanage, after his sisters death but knows he won't stay long, as he plans to murder the man that killed his sister. But as he is paired to accompany DQ, a teenager at the orphanage with terminal brain cancer, he begins to question the anger that is consuming him. DQ and the others he meets along his quest will teach him the true meaning of becoming a Death Warrior.
Trisha Smith
Apr 27, 2015 Trisha Smith rated it really liked it
"I'm just human. Our task is to try. Being a death warrior is all in the trying."

After the recent death of his father and older sister, seventeen-year-old Pancho arrives at St. Anthony’s Home for orphaned boys with one thing on his mind - to leave as soon as he gets the chance. He aims to find the man that killed his mentally disabled sister and bring her death to justice. Then he meets D.Q., a high-spirited teenager that is dying from cancer and his plans change. Pancho is hired by the priest a
Denise Flynn
May 18, 2015 Denise Flynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought provoking young adult book (not a vampire in sight, Harrah!) Two teenage boys both heading toward death but because of very different reasons. Pancho arrives at a Catholic orphanage following the death of his father 3 months before the death of his older sister Rosa who was 20. Pancho is angry as he believes his sister's death was suspicious and was not properly investigated as she had learning difficulties, and he is determined to track down the man responsible and kill him. Pancho me ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Sabreen rated it it was amazing
I'm going to make this short. Because with this book, there really isn't much to say. This is an amazing read. It explores two different people with two different lives and what happens when they intersect and try to find the meaning behind life. If you love a good book that really explores people and their emotions, I highly recommend that you read this one. It was excellent. The writing was very great. I don't really know how to describe the writing style of this book. It was so complex and ye ...more
Stork has got to be one of the more unique YA writers today. This book couldn't be more different than Marcelo. His characters are so individual. I actually set the book down with about 40 pages to go so I could savor the ending.

Too bad about the preachy speech towards the end.
First Second Books
Stork writes excellent people who are full of life – even if they’re about to die. I’m beginning to think that his cover designer is obsessed with trees, though – not a bad thing, but puzzling!
Kristen Chandler
Jul 14, 2011 Kristen Chandler rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a story that sounds like a downer, but it's one of those precious books that is so well written, that I couldn't stop reading, no matter where the story took me.
I love, love, love Stork! I read this slowly, so I could savor it. Not quite as good as last year's MARCELO, but still excellent! 4 1/2 stars.
Sep 17, 2010 Natalie rated it really liked it
It can be a struggle to get invested in Stork's work, but he has a beautiful way with imagery and world-construction.
Rachel Seigel
Jun 09, 2010 Rachel Seigel rated it really liked it
A complex and beautiful book about life and how we choose to live it.
Nov 26, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid, enjoyable story. It's not quite at the level of my favorite Stork book, Marcelo in the Real World, but it's very good nonetheless, and the audiobook narrator was excellent. It reminded me quite a bit of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, minus the LGBTQ themes, because the protagonist is kind of a tough, taciturn Latino teenager and he meets a talkative, thoughtful guy (with the initials D.Q., even) who becomes his friend and teaches him about life.

The on
Seventeen year-old Pancho is one tough hombre. And he's royally ticked. With a deceased mother, his father recently killed in a work-related accident, and his mentally challenged sister, Rosa, dead, he lands in a New Mexico orphanage mad at the world and aiming to make the world pay. Detectives say Rosa's death was due to "natural causes," but Pancho suspects foul play. He formulates a plan to identify Rosa's killer and wreak his revenge.

Pancho encounters an unexpected wrinkle when he meets D.
May 19, 2011 Malissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This book is essentially about a seventeen-year-old boy who is sent to a boy's home/school after both his father and sister die one after the other. He goes having made the decision that he won't stay long, and that by the end of the summer he'll have found and killed the man he believes is responsible for his sister's death.

When Pancho gets to St. Anthony's he is immediately assigned to as helper to D.Q., another teen resident who has terminal brain cancer. Through their time together, Pancho
Nicola McDonald
Apr 02, 2011 Nicola McDonald rated it really liked it
A grand and inspiring story about two boys, DQ and Pancho, whose fates are entwined. Pancho has been surrounded by death and is consumed with anger from being the only member of his family left alive. He plans to avenge his sister's death by killing the man he thinks is responsible for killing her. DQ is diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer, and wants to accept it and live out the rest of his life his way. Yet, his mother is set on his survival, which includes painful ongoing treatments ...more
May 24, 2010 Deanna rated it liked it
Realistic fiction, cancer, dying, identity, boxing, friendship, young love.

I couldn't put down Stork's 2009 novel, Marcelo in the real world, but sadly this one dragged. It took me a month to finish, but my hubby read it in one night. Maybe the theme of boxing turned me off.

The book opens with Pancho, a high school junior, arriving at a Catholic orphanage because his sister has recently been found dead in a hotel room. Previously his father passed away. Pancho has a lot of anger because the pol
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Your Immediate Thoughts 2 16 Jun 04, 2010 12:10PM  
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Francisco X. Stork was born in Mexico. He moved to El Paso Texas with his adoptive father and mother when he was nine. He attended Spring Hill College, Harvard University and Columbia Law School. He worked as an attorney for thirty-three years before retiring in 2015. He is married and has two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. He loves to discover new books and authors. His favorite ...more
More about Francisco X. Stork...

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“There's quiet because you don't need to say anything, and then there's quiet because you don't want to say something.
“She reached up and kissed him on the lips. It was a small kiss. It lasted only two or three seconds, just long enough for him to taste the future.” 8 likes
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