The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (by Francisco X. Stork)

7 05 2012

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is Francisco X. Stork‘s follow-up novel to the highly acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World, which had left the cat with an only so-so feeling. In this novel, however, Stork does deliver where Marcelo fell a little bit short. This time around it’s all heart and honesty.

Pancho Sanchez is a 17-year-old orphan from New Mexico. After his father and sister’s untimely death, he is sent to St. Anthony’s orphanage.   Pancho doesn’t think he will stay long at St Anthony’s.  This is because Pancho strongly belies that his mentally disabled sister Rosa was killed and he wants to avenge her death, no matter what. While at St. Anthony’s, Pancho meets D.Q., Daniel Quentin, a more than inquisitive boy with cancer, who – besides having to deal with the cancer – has his own set of problems (an absent mother who now wants to save her son from cancer using all means possible), but who’s dead set on not whining about them, courtesy of the Manifesto he’s writing: the Death Warrior Manifesto. A true Death Warrior loves life and lives life to the fullest, even if that means a more timely death.

Just like in Marcelo in the Real World, Stork is exploring some big questions, in this case whether to carry your burdens alone or to share them with others. Also, not just because of the names of the two protagonists, there’s an unquestionable link with the classic picaresque tale of Don Quixote de la Mancha, with D.Q.  as the insatiable chatterer about all things and Pancho as his more common ground counterpart. Both protagonists, though, fight their own set of enemies, both external as well as internal.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors feels like a more heartfelt novel than its predecessor. Much of this is because of the forceful voice of the protagonist: a voice that is restraint and compelling, yet bursting with emotions at the same time. Through Pancho’s voice Stork shows us some of the most essential things in life: the importance of friendship and making a commitment to life!

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