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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

By Francisco X. Stork

The tense and passionate new novel from the author of Marcelo in the Real World


It surrounds Pancho. His father, in an accident. His sister, murdered. His own plans to find her killer. And D.Q. - a guy Pancho’s age who’s dying of cancer. That is, if he’ll ever shut up.


D.Q. is writing “The Death Warrior’s Manifesto,” a guide to living out his last days fully. He needs just one more thing: the love of the beautiful Marisol. But as Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling for Marisol as well....


And choices that seemed right and straightforward become tender, tentative, real. While D.Q. faces his own crisis of doubt, Pancho is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or to embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life.

The author of the acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World returns with a novel about the big things we live and die for, and the people who make those things matter.

Reviews and Awards

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011
2011 Nautilus Silver Award
2011 Boston Authors Club Award
2011 Américas Award Commended Title
International Latino Book Award, Best Young Adult Fiction (English) 2012

⋆ “Characters that are just as fully formed and memorable as in Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World embody this openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love. Seventeen-year-old Pancho Sanchez is sent to a Catholic orphanage after his father and sister die in the span of a few months. Though the cause of his sister’s death is technically “undetermined,” Pancho plans to kill the man he believes responsible (“How strange that a feeling once so foreign to him now gripped him with such persistence. He could not imagine living without avenging his sister’s death”). When D.Q., a fellow resident dying from brain cancer, asks Pancho to accompany him to Albuquerque for experimental treatments, Pancho agrees—he’ll get paid and it’s where his sister’s killer lives. D.Q. is deeply philosophical, composing a “Death Warrior” manifesto about living purposefully; through him, Pancho gradually opens to a world that he previously approached like a punching bag. Stork weaves racial and familial tension, tentative romances, and themes of responsibility and belief through the story, as the boys unite over the need to determine the course of their lives.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

⋆ “Though the police say that his sister, Rosa, died of natural causes, 17-year-old Pancho Sanchez is convinced she was murdered, and looking to exact revenge. With no surviving family (his mother died when he was five, and his father only three months before Rosa), Pancho is placed in an orphanage in Las Cruces, where he meets D.Q., a boy who is dying from a rare form of brain cancer. D.Q. is not just determined to find a cure, he’s also equally set on training Pancho to become what he calls a “Death Warrior.” Together, the unlikely companions embark on a quest to Albuquerque (Stork acknowledges echoes of Don Quixote here), and though they travel for their own reasons, once arrived, each will have to come to terms with what it might actually mean to be a Death Warrior. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, 2008) has written another ambitious portrait of a complex teen, one that investigates the large considerations of life and death, love and hate, and faith and doubt. Though the writing occasionally tends toward the didactic, this novel, in the way of the best literary fiction, is an invitation to careful reading that rewards serious analysis and discussion. Thoughtful readers will be delighted by both the challenge and Stork’s respect for their abilities.” - Booklist, starred review

⋆ “Following his breakout book, Marcelo in the Real World (rev. 3/09), Stork offers yet another story with complex characters, rich and powerful themes, and a vivid setting. Tough-guy Pancho Sanchez is a ward of the state of New Mexico: his father died in an accident and his “slow” older sister, Rosa, died in a motel room under mysterious circumstances. Pancho is convinced that she was murdered and lives to take vengeance on his sister’s killer. Pancho is placed first in a foster home and then in an orphanage, where he meets and befriends D.Q., a strange boy with terminal cancer. D.Q. is writing the Death Warrior Manifesto, outlining his philosophy of embracing and loving life. He senses a kindred spirit in Pancho and recruits him to accompany him on an extended trip to Albuquerque for experimental treatment, hoping to mitigate Pancho’s lust for revenge. Once there, Pancho works on tracking down Rosa’s murderer, but he also bonds more closely with D.Q. and Marisol, a girl both Pancho and D.Q. fall for. Ultimately, Pancho needs to decide whether to cling to his desire for vengeance or forsake that quest, embrace forgiveness and acceptance, and move on with his life. Perceptive readers will not fail to recognize the allusions to Don Quixote in this novel of lonely quests and unlikely friendship. Stork’s latest marks him as one of the most promising young adult authors of the new decade; it features unforgettable characters confronting the big philosophical questions in life that will resonate with readers long after book’s end.” - Horn Book, starred review

"[I]t will be a hard-hearted reader indeed who fails to root for the tentative unfurling of this unusual friendship or closes the book without a renewed appreciation for life’s ephemeral beauty." - Kirkus Reviews 

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2010
Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 0-545-15133-3
Price: $17.99/$22.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 352
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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