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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  1,953 Ratings  ·  351 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 assi ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published March 1st 2010)
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Michael Justine
Update: November 29 2016

I'll round this up to 5 stars. The fact that all the wonderful scenes in the story are still with me, 4 months after I've read it says a lot about how good the book is.

I can only hope Stork's next works can match or surpass what he did here and in The Memory of Light.

Update: October 25 2016

I still can't forget about this book . . . There's something about the characters and the story that just gets me emotional every time I recall everything that happened. I think I shoul
Maggie Stiefvater
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
Dec 29, 2009 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
(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
May 27, 2010 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, Francisco X. Stork
Jun 23, 2010 xtina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2010 Donalyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 20, 2011 Marija rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marija by: Milly
Shelves: ya-mg, contemporary
I respect the themes Francisco X. Stork explores in this novel, namely that this book is a modern day version of the film Boys Town, the story of Father Flanagan and those boys, and I especially liked the concept of the death warriors…feeling gratitude and loving life at all times and in all circumstances, fighting to experience the “marrow of life”—carpe diem. I also truly loved D.Q. But, there’s one technical aspect of this novel that just doesn’t really work for me, and unfortunately, it happ ...more
Eva Mitnick
Jul 05, 2010 Eva Mitnick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 28, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa Mandina
Sep 02, 2011 Lisa Mandina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I read to help with selecting next year's Gateway Award nominees. I did really enjoy it. Didn't think I would, again, like many of the titles on the list this year, it is not my normal type of book. But I really liked the story, and got involved with the characters. At first I was irritated with the main character, Pancho, as he just didn't want to connect with anyone. Just pushed everyone away in his search for vengeance for his sister's death. I totally understood thou ...more
Kris Springer
Feb 28, 2010 Kris Springer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kim Zarins
Apr 17, 2015 Kim Zarins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2013 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Stork's Marcello in the Real World and thought I would give another of his books a try. I was not disappointed. Although the premise is pretty sad, the journey the characters take is gripping and interesting. DJ is battling cancer, and Pancho just lost his family. They cross path's in an orphanage, and that is where the story begins. Together, this unlikely pair go through a last chemo trial for DJ, and a search for the man who was with Pancho's sister when she died. Stork has a ...more
Feb 28, 2016 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. It was at the bottom of the stack of books on my nightstand, and I randomly read a chapter one night. After that, I kept wanting to read it over the others I had already started. Though nothing in the book was necessarily life-changing or magical, I do think that the characters are going to linger with me for awhile. I actually really appreciate and enjoy the fact that nothing was too over the top. The story was realistic and believable. There ...more
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
Aug 12, 2010 Ellen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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!
Rachel Seigel
Jun 08, 2010 Rachel Seigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A complex and beautiful book about life and how we choose to live it.
Kristen Chandler
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.
Aug 19, 2010 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It can be a struggle to get invested in Stork's work, but he has a beautiful way with imagery and world-construction.
Katie Hutchison Irion
I really think this deserves 3.5 stars. I mean, it is a good story but it just didn't do it for me. Plus, I really, really love STork's other book, Marcelo and the Read World and had high expectations for this and it just didn't live up to my thoughts. This story centers around two boys: DQ and Pancho. Pancho lost his father, mother, and very recently his sister. He believes that his sister was unintentionally murdered but no policeman will listen to him. His quest is to find the last man who wa ...more
I love this book. I like the atmosphere and the story
Sarah BT
So I liked the author's first teen book Marcelo and the Real World well enough, but it wasn't my favorite and I didn't know how much teen appeal it really had. I ended up trying The Last Summer of Death Warriors on audiobook and it worked very well for me as an audiobook (I wasn't as bored with it as I was during parts of Marcelo), but again I found myself wondering about the teen appeal. I think Death Warriors works best for teens who might think they're "too old" for YA and there's nothing hig ...more
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Your Immediate Thoughts 2 18 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
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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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