‘True Calling’ by Siobhan Davis

Ari dreams of this guy, Zane. She can see scenes from his life playing out in her dreams but she doesn’t know him. Or so she thinks.

See, Ari lives on Novo, this super cool new planet that’s similar to Earth and only the Earth’s elite people were chosen to populate it because something gross happened on Earth that I don’t really know what it was. The people that came to Novo got their memories erased upon arrival so they have no recollection of those they left behind. Instead they have something called the vita throughout which the authorities can track their every move. Adding to that, survaillance is everywhere. And that’s just the setting.

Cover courtesy of Goodreads

The authorities on Novo have decided that every teenager turning 17 and over will have to be married and reproduce in order to fully populate Novo. If this isn’t bad enough, the public and authorities will choose the couples through a televised reality show of sorts, named “The Calling”. Sounds vaguely familiar? You bet it does.

The premise of the story sounded really promising and I missed that this is supposed to be a trilogy because dystopian YA fantasy can’t come in anything less than trilogy form apparently. It’s okay, though I’m personally just kind of over the serial books and prefer stand alone ones at this point.
Also, one can’t help but draw paralells to The Hunger Games because of reasons but let me elaborate.

We find ourselfves in this somehwat post apocalyptic world. Something happened to the Earth that we know to make it different, either as it is in Panem with the Districts or with moving to an Earth like planet called Novo where the military rules while Earth is used as a big production facility for the new elite.
Then there is this whole televised, morally repelling reality TV bid which teenagers are forced into against their own will. People can’t talk freely etc. ALL SO FAMILIAR!

What I found more chilling than The Hunger Games was that people didn’t even have control over memories and by extend over their own actions anymore. While in THG the kids are pittied against each other in a death match, at least they could roam the planet freely outside of the tournament. On Novo, they get tracked everywhere and the authorities have an in into their brains. Directly. That’s just so weird to me. If they can erase memories, I’m sure they are just one experiment shy of being able to put false memories in your head as well.

Of course we als get a love triangle because YA novels like this can’t come without using that trope. Aside from all the similarities, that you cannot not think/see while reading, the story was good. What bugged me though, was the American centredness of it.

Novo is supposed to be a whole planet the size of Earth but whenever it is described, the secenery is a replica of the US. And similarly, when talked about Earth, it’s all the US that gets described. Am I to assume the whole world fell under US governing, or the rest of Earth just stopped existing? It was confusing. I guess Americans reading this won’t even think about it but being European, THIS BUGGS ME TO NO END!

I didn’t catch on fire with the story as I did with THG (see what I did there?!) but it was a compelling story for most parts. The forced marriages plus fertility tests and treatments are, for me, in a way even more distressing than what I read about Panem. The way the authorities can execute power over any person is just too much. In a way, I’m sorry I have to draw all these parallels because the story in itself is a pretty neat one just SO DAMN CLOSE to what I already read. Not sure if deliberately or by accident or comeplely unrelated.

Halfway through I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the other books but then it started to be less reality TV show peagent thing and more real battle and I grew more interested in it. I want to know what happens and how/if this is resolved, so I will be on the lookout for book number two, whenever that gets to see the light of day. In the end, if you liked THG and are into dystopian YA trilogies, you should check this one out!

Liked what you read? Please share it to spread the love!