You have three minutes to save your life . . .
You wake up alone in a horrible land. A horn sounds. The Call has begun.
The Sidhe are close. They’re the most beautiful and terrible people you’ve ever seen. And they’ve seen you.
Nessa will be Called soon. No one thinks she has any chance to survive. But she’s determined to prove them wrong.
Could you survive the Call?
I can say with confidence: I wouldn’t survive the Call. In fact, I barely survived the book. The Call is a young adult novel that is basically half horrific fantasy, half dystopian. It could easily be compared to The Hunger Games, and it’s truly just as entertaining as that dystopian series, though in a much different way. The teens in this story do not fight each other – at least, they’re not supposed to be fighting each other, but they are angsty teens, after all. Their real enemy are mythical creatures in another dimension, and are known in Irish folklore as the Sidhe.
The Sidhe “Call” these teens one by one, and those teens then have to survive for a full day in this parallel universe (though actually only 3 minutes and 4 seconds in Earth time) where humans originally forced the Sidhe to live after taking over the Sidhe’s true homeland (also known as Ireland). In the Sidhe’s universe, even the air is toxic, and all creatures (other than the Sidhe) are terrifyingly distorted humans.
All of the children in Ireland spend their youth training, hoping to grow strong and learn to run fast enough to survive their Call. While the primary focus in this story is on Nessa leading up to her Call, the author does a great job providing insight into the Sidhe’s world by first following other characters on their Calls. What we learn from these ventures is that a very, very small number of the teens do manage to survive the Call, but all who do are returned misshapen, broken, and completely traumatized.
Despite the fact that teens are the focus of the story, I’m surprised that it’s marketed as a book for young adults. The descriptions of the creatures and land in Sidhe’s universe are truly the stuff of nightmares – and while it’s not like I wouldn’t have read a book like this as a teen myself, there is no way I’d ever in good conscious recommend it to a teen. (Think Human Centipede, but with fairy magic fusing bodies together instead of surgeons.)
The Call is one of those books that I’ll never forget, though I certainly wish I could, at least for some parts. That said, it was extremely thrilling, fast-paced, and unique, with an intriguing band of characters. Therefore, if you’re a reader whose only requirement is captivating entertainment, then this may be the book for you. Any readers with a weak stomach or even the slightest amount of empathy, however, are probably better off avoiding this one.
Full disclosure: A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.