Book Review: True Calling
ashley | I was pretty hesitant to pick up True Calling by Siobhan Davis. To be honest, it just seemed like it was going to be like every other dystopian YA book; a crumbling world divided into sectors that force their young adults to participate in some awful testing that controls their future until one otherwise normal girl defies the odds and changes her fate. Don’t get me wrong, True Calling does mix all the good elements we’ve seen before in the Hunger Games, Divergent, etc., but there is a new, unique take on the dystopian competitiveness and some much appreciated imagination.
“The Calling” is basically the world’s worst reality dating show, where all eligible seventeen year olds compete in a glamorized ‘dating game’ scenario to determine their best mate for them to wed and then breed three children before they are 23. Think The Bachelor, but with Katnis’s elaborate prep team from the Hunger Games and an American Idol-like voting system. I hate these kinds of reality shows and I really expected to hate this as a premise for a book, but it was such a refreshing change from competitions that involve killing other kids and violence.
The first part of the book is told from Ariana’s point of view. Ariana seems strong willed, but she also seems to have a bit of a weak spine. She isn’t all that impressed with being told who she has to marry, but she doesn’t totally rebel against it and even gets a bit excited about it in the beginning. She warmed up really quickly to Cal, whom she supposedly hated and didn’t understand why other girls fawned over him, but his persistence and compliments was all it took for her to cower.
This seems like it’s a love story about Ariana and Cal, trying to survive The Calling and take back a bit of control of their lives, but then the mysterious Zane starts showing up in Ariana’s dreams and her father disappears and distinct forces try to change things to keep Ariana and Cal apart and then thrust them back together. There’s obviously something going on here and just as Ariana starts asking the right questions, we shift to Zane’s point of view for part two. The combination of points of view give much needed insight into the rebel cause behind the scenes, while allowing Ariana to drive the story. This works well here.
I really like the creative liberties that Davis takes. Nuvo creates a canvas for a futuristic world Davis imagines some cool technological advances in the Nuvo world that were fun to read about. And I never would have thought to mix a lighthearted dating game with a political rebellion. The ideas seem so polar opposite to me, I didn’t think this was going to work at all, but Davis really cleverly intertwines the two situations.
There were moments that seemed a little thin, at risk of creating a hole in the plot or something that seemed out of place or wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the story, but for the most part I really enjoyed this and thought it was a really revitalizing and unique take on your typical dystopian rebellion.
Of course, the ending is a cliffhanger and you’re left needing to read the followup to find out exactly what happens. I have a lot of questions and curiosities about where this is going to lead. I’m suspicious of everyone’s intentions and don’t trust anything, so it looks like I’m going to have to pick up the next installment when it’s available and see where Ariana ends up.