I had just started a new book when I remembered that the sequel to The Call, The Invasion, came out for Kindle soon, so I abandoned what I was reading (sorry, The Sparrow, I’ll get back to you soon) to re-read The Call in anticipation. I used to read a lot of young adult novels. I still read a fair amount of them. But it’s rare that I find a young adult series as brave about being grim and dark as The Call is. I told my fiance when I started The Invasion “I’m going to keep a count of how many good things happen in this book and tell you when I’m done. And I don’t count ‘dying less horribly than they could have’ as a good thing. My guess is two. Total.”
All of this makes it sound like I don’t recommend these books, but I very much do. I just don’t recommend them for everyone. The series gets compared to The Hunger Games a lot, and I see why. While the books aren’t very similar in theme or plot, aside from some themes about violence and the perceived disposability of youth, the brutality is similar. Kids die in these books. They die horribly. If they do survive, they survive horrible trauma, often with extreme physical marks. See, in this series, children are trained to try to survive The Call when they get it. The Call transports them to the fairy realm, which is the exact opposite of every daydream you’ve ever had about what being transported to a fairy realm would be like. The children have 3 minutes in the realm. The vast majority of them do not survive that three minutes.
Our main character, Ness, is even less likely to survive since polio left her with very limited use of her legs. The book does not wallow in pity for Ness, nor does it make her a Magical Disabled Person: her legs are just a part of her, and while they are a big deal at her school and among her peers, that isn’t the focus of the book. The book instead is a tightly-paced terror, at times leaving me actually short of breath, even upon re-read.
I can’t wait to review The Invasion here when I’m done.