There were some things in this book I didn't like. I didn't understand some of the characters' relationships with e***Minor spoilers in this review***
There were some things in this book I didn't like. I didn't understand some of the characters' relationships with each other. I wasn't sure on the idea of the fey and the dragons. Tess's firesight was too much of a background trait for it to make me feel that she had powers, and Poppy's useless beauty enchantment was not the most interesting thing (although I can see why it would interest the fey considering their plans). One thing I appreciated was how the witch hunting was scary because that was pretty much exactly how it happened in the American colonies.
But all of the characters fell flat to me, even Garth, even Aisling, even Tess. Meg and Poppy were boring, Tom was practically non-existent, Onadon was an asshole, Tess's mother ... I can't even get into what I think of that relationship.
It was a pretty good YA fantasy, with some nice fantasy elements including dragons, fey, magic, and witch hunters. I liked it but didn't love it. But I *really loved* that it was a stand-alone!!...more
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the ebook edition of this from NetGalley.]
This review will probably come across more harsh than I intend, but i[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the ebook edition of this from NetGalley.]
This review will probably come across more harsh than I intend, but in the spirit of being honest I'm going to say exactly what I think.
True Calling is a direct mash-up of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Matched, and Divergent, and I feel like there are some elements from The Chemical Garden series in there as well. It was, and I realize I'm being blunt here, wholly unoriginal. Civilization on Earth is collapsing, so the government decides they need to create a new society on a new planet with only the best of the best from Earth. It's a utopia, except it's not. After only a few pages we are told that the government is instituting a forcible marriage and procreation "contest," where all 17-year-olds are paired with their ideal match in a Bachelor-style competition, and the fan favorites get to be the face of the government matching system, complete with dream home, fancy schmancy wedding, and they don't have to fulfill the three kids requirement for 10 years (as opposed to six for everyone else). It's full of fancy clothes, makeup, laser hair removal, skin smoothing treatments, and fertility injections! What fun! There is also a talent "showcase," and a dance routine that seem to amount to nothing more than entertaining TV.
Ari, the main character, is devastated at first until she realizes she's in love with one of her "suitors," they make out a lot, they are threatened by the government over and over, around every corner is danger, and they are told, bluntly and by multiple people (I counted at least three) that they will win the contest, become the face of the system, and deal with it whether they want to or not, or their families will be murdered. Does this sound at all familiar to you?
Not to mention the fact that Ari is having dreams of some boy, Zane, and she doesn't know who he is because everyone who came to the new planet (Nova) had their memories wiped of all the people they left behind on Earth.
The world-building is minimal. There is no mention of a monetary system, any sort of political system outside of the fact that the Commander runs the place and has a bunch of military personnel below him. The districts are all basically replicas of places back on Earth, but there's no real description of them or how they are situated on the planet. I don't even really understand how far the planet is from Earth, or how a planet so close to Earth that it can be reached in a couple of hours wouldn't cause the entire solar system to collapse. They drive some sort of hover cars that take a couple of hours to get to the capital city, but the Velo (high-speed rail?) can get them there in minutes. So it's obviously not gigantic, but they want to grow the population at an astounding rate? Where are all of the people going to go? What kind of job system do they have outside of military and medical? What exactly happened on Earth that made everyone leave? Apparently food and textiles are still being made on Earth, but they are developing the capability to farm and produce their own foods and supplies on Nova? Where? How? Who's going to work it, if they don't want the people capable of menial labor up on Nova? It doesn't make any sense.
I wasn't hating the book until I got to the 48% mark, when the author switches perspectives for a few chapters to give us Zane's point of view. I *haaaaaaaaaaaaaate* it when we get half the story in one person's POV and then there's suddenly a switch. And it's only for a few chapters, then we're right back to Ari and her problems (which became almost pleasant compared to Zane). It wasn't seamless, it was awkward, because he narrates the back story for pages and pages and pages. And his "voice" was so strange, because I felt like I was reading the story from the POV of the teenage girl I'd been reading for the first half, but with a different name.
I also had a lot of trouble with the fact that Ari and Cal knew they were under heavy surveillance, and yet they didn't think the government knew about their secret hiding place where they could talk without cameras and microphones. I wanted to shout every time they went to Strata, "ARE YOU STUPID?! THE GOVERNMENT IS WATCHING YOU DRIVE THERE, AND GO INTO YOUR HOLE!!!"
It is also clear to me that this book has never been properly edited, as the rampant run-on sentences, excessive misuse of punctuation, and completely wrong words made it incredibly frustrating to read. I don't know if that's just the way the copy I read was formatted, and if it's been copy-edited in final print, but it was so very distracting. On top of that, for some reason teenagers from Connecticut were using British slang all over the place! "He was well fit" showed up a few times, along with other slang that you would never hear a teenager from CT say. Very very awkward.
I really don't understand the huge number of five star reviews this book received. I feel like either I read a completely different book, or most people are content with sloppy writing/editing and direct copies of other books that are already on the market. I'm giving it two stars because I wanted to see who Ari was going to pick - Zane or Cal. But in the end we don't even get that much satisfaction and I'm not intrigued enough to pick up book 2 to find out....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this series (despite the issues I brought up in my previous two reviews). The only thing disappointing about this one was that II thoroughly enjoyed this series (despite the issues I brought up in my previous two reviews). The only thing disappointing about this one was that I had no trouble figuring out pretty much every major plot point well before it was revealed. It was pretty blatantly obvious. But the story itself was great, and I liked Annith's POV better than Sybella's and Ismae's.
A great conclusion to a very enjoyable series.
ETA: I just realized, the story with Matelaine was never resolved. Or was it? (view spoiler)[Did LaFevers forget to reveal who killed her and why? I don't think it was insinuated that it was the Abbess, and Crunard never confessed, and Annith never figured it out. Or was it when Crunard tried to poison Duval, and she accidentally touched the poison chess piece? But that doesn't make sense with the timeline I'm imagining, since Duval was already healed by that point and the chess piece determined to be at fault, right? The timeline is killing me here! Where do the stories overlap? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more