Author – Peadar O’Guilin
Age – 14+
Children have to face a terrible truth at the age of 10. Their parents might have kept all knowledge of The Call from them, to try and give them some childhood, but the inevitable may be just around the corner….
Set in Ireland, all children at the age of 10 are sent to one of the many survival schools that train them to try and stay alive. Many years before, humankind banished creatures to a terrible grey land. But they now have taken their revenge, calling every child to their land at random. They have to survive one day in this land filled with horrific creatures sculptured out of humans they have slayed and kept. They can fight, hide, or die.
The survival skills teach them the language of the Sidhe and how they fight, live, act and kill. It was once recorded that only 1 in 100 survived this day, but with the school’s intensive training and the testimonies of the survivors pored over for every detail of the grey lands, the odds are now 1 in 10 of survival.
Nessa is a beautiful girl, strong, determined and brave, but her legs are twisted, preventing her from walking very fast or running at all. When she is in a training session or an organised hunt through school, she fashions crutches out of anything she can, giving her the freedom of movement her legs never have.
They may be called at any time of day, day or night, and although they are in the grey land for a day, they are only missing from current time for 3 minutes and 4 seconds. When they vanish, leaving their clothes behind, the wait for their friends, teachers or loved ones is excruciating as most return dead. If they somehow do survive they are often disfigured, burnt, bleeding and/or changed physically and mentally.
This was a quick read, with a fascinating story line, tense relationships and the threat of ‘The Call’ at any moment. Each time one of the characters was called, it caught me by surprise. There is the kick-ass girl character, her risk taker friend, the ‘jock’ who likes her but will never admit it, and his followers who believe every word he breathes, until….
Think Hunger Games, with every kid forced to enter, at random, with no warning, and little chance of survival. The Call is brutal, violent but captivating.
(Violence, Hell, Creatures, Fight, Fear, Determination, Horror)