Author: Peadar O’Guilin
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Set in Ireland, this fantasy horror novel introduces readers to a freaky reality: at any given time, on any given day, a teen’s world will go black, and when her senses return, she realizes she is naked and alone. She has been Called to the Grey Land. Nessa, a 14-year-old girl living with the aftereffects of polio, and her best friend Megan attend Boyle Survival College to prepare themselves for their Call. At this boarding school, they learn about the fairy enemies and practice survival and defensive techniques. The students who have lived through the Call return disfigured and emotionally broken, but it is through their accounts that others can prepare for the torture they face. Nessa works her hardest so that her limited mobility does not become a deterrent to her survival.
The Call put me in a weird headspace. It was one of those books that I had to keep reading until I was finished, but in doing so immersed my self a little too deeply into the heads of the characters themselves. This can be a good thing when reading something funny, or an adventurous epic about the chosen one defeating the bad guy. Not so much for a world in which only 10% of people don’t die horribly, and those that do are scarred forever. If you are in a fragile headspace, perhaps skip this one.
However, that being said, the immersive experience was also one of the strengths of this book. Even though the whole story centered around the very frightening plot, this book is not about that. It’s about a young woman who can barely walk and what she must do to survive an unsurvivable situation without going insane. That choice of the author’s, the choice to make the book about the people instead of the plot, was an excellent one, and brought the novel over from an interesting 300 pages, to an engrossing one.
That being said, I would have liked to see a bit more personality from our main character, Nessa. She is strong, and borderline sociopathic from shutting off her ability to care about others (perfectly understandable when almost everyone she knows is going to die by adulthood), but it also took away anything to like. I’ve read books where the main characters are terrible people, and where they kill and hurt. I can still like them. They are unique. I respected Nessa, definitely. But I respected her for not giving up due to her disability, not for anything else, anything about who she was. I would definitely say that Nessa’s personality was the weak point in this story.
Overall, I was rather impressed with The Call. There is a sequel, however, I think I will stick with reading this book as a standalone. I don’t think a sequel will do the story any favors, and it ended quite nicely. Four stars.