Title: True Calling
Author: Siobhan Davis
Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Romance | Science Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Ariana and her family have moved to Novo. Technology is high and she does not think much of it until an event named The Calling comes to be. Her dreams about someone she doesn’t remember only make her struggle more. Can Ariana find the truth? And will she be able to deal with it?
I have to admit I was pretty confused in the beginning and, quite frankly, often times throughout True Calling. I never really felt captivated by the story, always kept wondering why over and over at whatever was thrown at me, never being able to take it at face value because it just didn’t feel like I was being given proper explanation.
First of all, I felt there wasn’t much of world development. It was never clear what exactly was happening on Novo and on Earth. I mean, it’s a dystopia, the government’s big bad plans need to be well covered up for the story to work, but it needs to make some sort of sense, right?
These people on Novo were subjected to invasive procedures without even thinking twice. Like having selective memories deleted (supposedly so people from Novo would not miss the ones left behind – what????), which I simply cannot fathom how it could possibly be done regardless of how much technology has evolved; having an item implanted at the top of their spinal cord which tracks them everywhere they go and transmits all sorts of information and who else knows what; they go through a battery of scans at an insane frequency and if they get are deemed sick well then God knows what might happen. They get shot with stuff, often by robot medics, and never seem to wonder what’s going in their bodies. They simply embrace everything because, well, new planet and all.
The planet itself didn’t make sense to me at all. This Novo is described as having been ‘chosen’ to house the best human beings because it was so similar to Earth (quite near to it too, like 12k miles I think I read). However, its natural features were transformed by humans to the point of mimicking certain specific locations, all from USA, even though whatever bad things happened happened to Earth as a planet.
I just cannot contemplate how it is possible to change the surface of a planet and to be frank, to this point I am not even entirely sure whether the entire planet was fabricated or not.
We meet Ariana, our main character, who is a cadet at some academy. However, we don’t really know what her days are like, what exactly she does there, only that she is subject to a battery of scans and tests.
I found it so hard to relate to her, because one minute she says she never got used to this and that and the next she totally is. One minute she is rebellious and the next complying. And she of course has a perfect bff who is the pentacle of positivity so naturally diminishes herself in front of Eve because she is just so negative compared to her.
On the other hand, she says stuff like she is so very adept at kissing and whatnot, since she had no recollection of ever doing it before…
Queue love interest which starts with hate/loathing feelings and that’s it, it only goes downhill for me. If you have been following my blog for a while you will know I am not a fan of romance. I can tolerate it if it is part of something bigger, but in this case it just became annoying following Ariana around with her fluttering heart and tingling body sensations.
At some point it all became a bit reminiscent of Hunger Games (Effie immediately sprung to mind), as well asother books of the genre which I never bothered to read for these same reasons, I am sure. The dressing up of the couples and everything being televised is an example – but overall I did find the concept somewhat interesting as dystopian. I just could not stand how it was handled by the main character.
Oh and she is a self-proclaimed prude. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that, I even praise it and wish I would see it more but the way she speaks about herself is so diminishing while at the same time holding everyone in such high regard that I just could not grow to like her. At first, at least.
Just an example: She says stuff like He’s so freaking hot I still can’t believe I managed to hook him..
One thing that really annoyed me was when the moment finally comes to try and figure out what the heck is going on, what does she do? Prude Ariana jumps on Cal and loses her virginity just like that. Hurry, hurry, the lights and cameras will be back on soon *sigh*
At some point I stopped trying to make sense of what was going on, particularly when they seemed to talk openly about all forbidden subjects even though they knew they were being fully monitored. I know Agent Dale planted a device that put surveillance on a loop but I always thought that was temporary – I mean, they couldn’t fool them with that forever, right? Also, the scenarios changed, they weren’t always at Ariana’s place.
The fact of the matter is I wanted to know more about this dystopian world, not how insecure Ariana is about boys and whatever else. Even as she grew as a character, I simply had no respect for her because she was just an annoying teenager to me.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing is quite good and why I give the book 2 stars instead of 1. The narrative flows well and I am sure that fans of teenage lovestruck heroines who have to struggle with love triangles and family issues will enjoy this very much.
I however had to make an effort to stick with the book while it was all about Ariana and Cal mostly because of all the gushing, and trying to discern whether it was safe for them to be saying certain stuff at certain places, it was just exhausting.
When The Calling began, I felt trapped between Ariana gushing at how all her new clothes hugged her curves perfectly (even though her entire casual wardrobe consisted of pants and she said she never wore them back on Earth, as she preferred skirts and shorts but could not get them on Novo) and gawking at how hot Cal was and how she longed for his touch.
Although things got a bit more interesting towards the end I just could not enjoy the book or the characters. I am partly curious to know what comes next, especially if the romance is toned down, but not enough to spend money. Character and world building and development are far too important for me.
Read this if you are looking for a teen romance sprinkled with a bit of dystopian sci-fi.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This book is also available for free at Amazon – click here and if you get to read it please let me know what you thought, I would love to share notes on any book I have read.
Read from Nov 25 to Dec 03, 2015