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The Call
Written by Peadar O’Guilin
Published by David Fickling Books
320 pages

ISBN: 978-1-338-045-611

 

 

I don’t want to give spoilers. I want everyone to read The Call. Then I’ll have people to discuss it with.

You know that feeling; you just finished a book or movie and you want to share it with others and talk about it? That’s how I felt when I finished the book. Well, it’s still how I feel. So, it’s purely for selfish reasons that I want you to read this book. Then we can all have a lively discussion. Till then I’ll just have to encourage you to read it.

YA is one of my favorite categories of fiction. Or it has been. It’s been hit or miss finding books that I really enjoy. I think I want what a lot of readers want: excellent character development, good world building, and a great story.

I hesitate to label The Call as a young adult book. It feels like that may limit its potential audience and I’m sure this book will appeal to a wider group of readers. Yes, the main characters are young adults. Yes, it’s pretty much their story. But it’s not a simple story. It’s not overly concerned with their love lives. It’s pretty blunt in its portrayal of teen relationships. But that’s not the only thing going on. They live, or not, in a complex world, studying how to survive it.

This is a coming of age story, maybe. Or maybe it’s a story of survival. It’s man vs. man, man vs. well…maybe not nature, exactly, but the landscape, and very much man vs. himself. These are story archetypes that I learned about back in school. The Call works in all three of these. Many of our classic stories showcase one of these. To deftly weave multiple themes into one story is a joy to read.

The Call is interesting because it has to find a balance between letting us know about the people inhabiting this world and not being too terribly attached to them. This is helped by the main character Nessa, who keeps her distance from everyone. She works really hard to not care about any of her classmates or even her parents. She thinks that feeling for others will interfere with her survival studies. Maybe she’s right. But even with her heroic effort, she can’t help feeling for others. In the end that may also have been one of her strengths.

The point at which the reader learns about a character is important. There are a lot of characters and we can’t get to know all of them at the same time. That would be like attending an in-depth cocktail party where, instead of polite small talk, you actually got to know everyone in the room. Whew, that would be emotionally exhausting. It’s hard enough just to come up with polite little things to say to everyone at a party. Can you imagine standing there long enough to really get to know them?

So O’Guilin picks and chooses when to let you in on another character and when to leave them quite unknown. Some we never get to know. That’s okay. Just like the cocktail party, you don’t have to know everyone.

RELATED: Maia’s interview with author Peadar O’Guilin at Worldcon 74 

There are parts of the book that are quite graphic. If you follow me here on SciFi4Me.com, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of horror. Scary, gory stuff is not my thing. Several times I winced at the violence and horrific descriptions. But the story is compelling and violence is part of this world. If you accept the world these characters inhabit, you must also take the violence. That being said, this is probably not a good book to hand to a younger reader.

I can’t explain how such a sad story can also be uplifting. Somehow in the end it is. The future is still bleak and yet there’s that small ray of light at the end of a terribly long tunnel.

Please read The Call and then leave your comments below so we can talk about it.

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Maia Ades

Maia Ades resented the demanding schedule of first grade, as it interfered with her afternoon TV schedule. Now she watches TV for "research" and in order to write show reviews. She is currently involved in independent film production, and enjoys creating fine art.

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