Written by : Peadar O’Guilin @TheCallYA
Published by: David Fickling Books @DFB_storyhouse
“3 minutes and 4 seconds.
The length of time every teenager is ‘Called’, from the moment they vanish to the moment they reappear.
9 out of 10 children return dead.
Even the survivors are changed.
The nation must survive.
Nessa, Megan and Anto are at a training school – to give them some chance to fight back. Their enemy is brutal and unforgiving. But Nessa is determined to come back alive. Determined to prove that her polio-twisted legs won’t get her killed.
But her enemies don’t just live in the Grey Land. There are people closer to home who will go to any length to see her, and the nation, fail…”
The Call grabs you right from the opening chapter and doesn’t let go.
The entire premise of a supernatural Hunger Games, one that pits the youth of a Dystopian Ireland Vs the Sidhe who are hell bent on exacting revenge on the Irish people for trapping them in the Grey Land, is both original and at the same time deeply submerged in Irish Folklore and Mythology.
O’Guilin’s Ireland is one both recognizable and one that has been devastated by the 25 year old threat that it’s children could be taken at any time, only to return dead, or mutilated forever beyond recognition. Political borders are gone. The only border that remains is the impenetrable one that the Sidhe have placed around Ireland cutting it off entirely.
In an attempt to save as many as possible, training schools have been set up to teach the children how to survive. Based on the testimonies of those taken by the Call who have managed to return alive. These schools are a great concept, think a Hogwarts where they teach children to kill. O’Guilin writes about the fears and insecurities of childhood perfectly, magnifying these through the prism that they also face the daily threat of a fate that may well be worse than death.
The world building in this is just excellent. Little details like beer in clay bottles, computers laying covered in dust, still plugged in because they are now useless really help to immerse you in the Ireland of The Call. Likewise details of the obsoleteness of adults not involved in the training of the children or the chosen sexuality of adults being ignored to ensure the future of the Nation really enhance the main plot.
I can’t think of a book that I have read recently that has given me such a deep felt concern for the well being of it’s characters. I found myself literally gripping the pages of the book when some of the characters are taken. At one point while reading in work over lunch, the phone rang and I jumped that much I almost slipped out of my chair. It’s a tense, claustrophobic read and all the better for this.
Lets talk monsters. For a Y.A. book there are some seriously disturbing creatures in here. Not all of them are Sidhe… O’Guilin’s best villains in this book are some of the main characters, Nessa’s fellow students. A real skill to take a book jam filled with all manner of nightmarish creatures but make you more afraid of the actions of some of the children.
Nessa as a character was one that I was worried about when I started reading. She has Polio, but at no point is the reader made to feel sorry for her or have pity for her. Nor does she behave in a manner that is beyond someone with her disability. Nessa is a strong and believable character who in O’Gulin’s hands you cannot help but root for.
I loved The Call. It’s original, action packed and filled with horrors. It’s also a beautiful book in places too. Romance and the agony of unrequited teenage love are touched on brilliantly as well. Buy this, you will not regret it.
Available to buy for Kindle here
or in hardback here