Published by David Fickling Books on August 30th 2016
Genres: young adult, paranormal
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The Hunger Games meets horror in this unforgettable thriller where only one thing is certain . . . you will be Called.
Thousands of years ago, humans banished the Sidhe fairy race to another dimension. The beautiful, terrible Sidhe have stewed in a land of horrors ever since, plotting their revenge . . . and now their day has come.
Fourteen-year-old Nessa lives in a world where every teen will be "Called." It could come in the middle of the day, it could come deep in the night. But one instant she will be here, and the next she will wake up naked and alone in the Sidhe land. She will be spotted, hunted down, and brutally murdered. And she will be sent back in pieces by the Sidhe to the human world . . . unless she joins the rare few who survive for twenty-four hours and escape unscathed.
Nessa trains with her friends at an academy designed to maximize her chances at survival. But as the days tick by and her classmates go one by one, the threat of her Call lurks ever closer . . . and with it the threat of an even more insidious danger closer to home.
When I started this book, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I honestly hate the cover, and I knew nothing about the author, but the blurb is what prompted me to select this book at ALA. To put it mildly, my expectations were pretty low. Imagine my surprise to find this book completely capturing my attention. The blurb on Goodreads tells you a bit more than the one on the back of the ARC, and I had no idea this book was about murderous faeries until I started it. Here’s my secret confession: I am obsessed with faeries. Vampires, too, but I feel like authors get more creative with their interpretation of the fae. This book was one of the most creative with fae mythology that I have ever read.
The world-building is excellent. It’s a little on the vague side, but there are enough details for the reader to build a decent backstory and understanding. Humans were trapped on Ireland with no way of escape by the fae, there was a war, and the humans banished the fae to another dimension. Admittedly it’s not much to go on, but you start to understand more as the young adults start to get “Called.”
What is “The Call?” Well, the Sidhe eat humans, and from their alternate dimension, they are trying to wipe out the human race. So they “call” young adults to their world (which is a lot like hell with horrible creatures and plants, plus the Sidhe themselves.) The person “called” has to survive in hell for 24 hours, which in Ireland is three minutes. Time passes differently in both places. The odds of a person surviving “The Call” are slim to none and the statistics are not good. This is never more apparent than in the chapters where kids are called to the other side and die there. There are quite a few of those, and they are all different. But the kids that DO survive come back changed and, most of the time, completely different people than they were before they were called.
The protagonist Nessa, and other kids from ages ten to sixteen, all go to a survival school, and that is where most of the book takes place. There they learn techniques and strategies that will help them survive “The Call.” The kids there are brutal, and Nessa is bullied a lot because she is handicapped and has to use crutches to get around. Most of the other kids and even the teachers think it’s cruel that her parents sent her to the academy for training. This is such a brutal world that a lot of parents just put their kids to death if they have no chance of survival. But Nessa’s parents never considered that, especially since Nessa’s brother did not survive “The Call.” Nessa is hardly weak though. She has very strong arms, uses her crutches very well and can construct them out of found wood in the forest–she’s also very cunning and intelligent.
The only thing I didn’t really care for was the ending. I was just hoping for more of a resolution. I wanted a complete story and it just kind of…ended. Sometimes open endings work really well but in this case the lack of closure was unsatisfying.
That said though, this book was intense, suspenseful, and thrilling as hell. It’s so great to go into a book with zero expectations and come out feeling blown away by the entire experience. The Call is a violent, brutal book and I don’t recommend it for people with sensitive emotions or stomachs. But if you like horror, you’re probably going to love this.