The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is Francisco X. Stork’s fourth novel. The book is set in New Mexico in the United States of America. After the death of his closest family members seventeen year old Pancho is being taken to live in an orphanage. His mother died when he was five. He lived with his father and older sister Rosa in a trailer for the majority of his life. His father died in a work related accident and Pancho was left to take responsibility for his mentally disabled sister’s welfare. Soon after her father’s death she is found dead in a motel room in what Pancho considers to be suspicious circumstances. However, the police do not listen to his concerns and her death is put down to undetermined natural causes. The police informed Pancho that his sister had had sexual intercourse before she died. Pancho is sure that the man who was with Rosa is responsible for her death. He is determined to hunt the man down and make him pay for Rosa’s death.
When he arrives at the orphanage he meets a terminally ill boy. D. Q. is his age and is dying of brain cancer. As there is no summer work for Pancho, his job for the summer will be helping D. Q. to get through his treatments in the hospital in the city of Albuquerque. D. Q. is writing a book called The Death Warrior Manifesto, which is about embracing life. He is determined to make Pancho into a Death Warrior but Pancho does not care what happens to him after he has found his sister’s killer. He assumes he will be in prison for the rest of his life. In Albuquerque Pancho meets Marisol, the girl whose heart D. Q. is determined to win. Can the new people in Pancho’s life divert his thoughts from revenge?
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a great book. It is an unsentimental treatment of the lives of those dealing with death. Pancho’s is suffering from the loss of his entire family and D. Q.’s has to face his own impending death in the best way he can. D. Q.’s mother’s reaction to his illness is as strong as Pancho’s desire for revenge. The book shows the intense emotions that the loss of love ones inspire. Stork writes with sympathy even when the emotions felt cause the characters to act in ways that could hurt themselves and those they care about.
I would like to thank Scholastic for providing with a copy of the book for review. The book was published in June and is suitable for teenagers in the 14+ age group.