Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: True Calling

Book Cover: True Calling by Siobhan Davis True Calling by Siobhan Davis
Published October 2014 by Siobhan Davis
Source: review copy supplied by the author

Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana's plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, 'The Calling', gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.


My Thoughts

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed reading True Calling and am about to start reading the sequel, Beyond Reach. Really enjoyed. The plot and characters were very well developed and the story moved along. I'm rather anxious to see what happens next.

The blurb above does a pretty good job of outlining the story. True Calling is a YA romance with an SF setting. For the past two years, Airiana, Ari to her family and friends, has been living on the planet Novo***. After a series of ecological disasters, the healthiest and brightest are offered the chance at a new life on Novo. Since not everyone qualifies to emigrate to Novo, those who move there have their memories modified—removing all traces of those left behind. Photos and other memorabilia are altered to match the retained memories. (Does anyone else feel 1984-ish about this?)

After two years to settle in and appreciate the benefits of living on Novo—no polution, abundant food, and high tech—the residents of Novo (I hesitate to call them “citizens”) are informed that strict measures are going to be taken to increase the population dramatically. Teens will be matched through a planet-wide contest, will be required to marry as soon as possible and produce three children in the first five years of their marriage.

I really enjoyed reading True Calling. But... (You knew there had to be a “but”, didn't you?) I found myself annoyed while I was reading. The annoyances were small, but they nagged and keep on nagging.

Regarding “The Calling” and the breeding plan for teens. What about all those people between the ages of 20 and 35? Why wasn't there a mandate for them to start producing more children? Why weren't all the single olders being told to marry ASAP? Why weren't all married couples being forced to start having more babies? Yeah, it's more dramatic that draconian measures were to affect the teens. And a televised “contest” keeps the rest of the population involved in the burgeoning romances. (Shades of The Bachelor and Married at First Sight? And maybe an echo of The Hunger Games?) OK, so that was a small annoyance.

Then there was the “voice” problem. The characters are supposedly from Connecticut. But there were some strange 've and 'd constructs that don't sound right for Connecticut in my ear. “I've to remind myself”, “we've to perform a dance”, “We'd enough information”. Perhaps this is a common use in Davis' homeland of Ireland. The author also gave away her origins with “light black shimmery off-the-shoulder jumper and pink cami underneath”. I think she meant what kids from Connecticut would call a sweater or pullover. I found it hard to decide on a rating when I enjoyed the story so much, but the “voice” just grated on my ear.

And lastly, there was the problem with the location of Novo 1200 miles above the Earth's surface. A planet that close to Earth? In orbit around the Earth or in orbit around the Sun? Higher than the International Space Station (which sits ~200 miles above the Earth) and much closer than the moon (sitting at ~240,000 miles away). And what was with Ari's father being away exploring the western planets? Umm... if they were artificial, they wouldn't need exploring. And I don't believe it would be possible to have undiscovered planets so close to the Earth at this point in the future. More plausible would be a space station or space habitat instead of a “planet”.

Did I say that I really enjoyed the story?

I'm winding up with a solid 3-star rating. If I hadn't run into the above annoyances, I'd be awarding 4 stars for sure.

My recommendation is to get yourself a copy of this book. The Kindle edition is currently on sale for 99 cents. That's a bargain for a very entertaining and enjoyable story. Yes, I've pointed out some things which could have been better, but these were not spoilers for me.

Now I'm off to read Beyond Reach because I really want to know what happens next for Ari, Cal, and Zane.


*** Supposedly planet Novo is 1200 miles above the surface. Ummm... no. The author even offered an explanation saying “I am well aware that a planet located twelve hundred miles from Earth is not realistic for a whole heap of reasons; however, I needed to position Planet Novo close to Earth to support the plot.” So far, I haven't seen a reason in the plot that she needed to defy science, perhaps that will come clear in the future books in the series.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of True Calling from the author via Lola's Blog Tours in return for an honest review. This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which the BookObsessed online community will receive a few cents if you make purchases.


  1. I'm not big on SF but I have enjoyed reading this review - glad despite the annoyances you had a good time reading it.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I just finished reading the next book in the series, Beyond Reach, and I enjoyed it as much as this one. Full review coming on 17 May.