True Calling by Siobhan Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A disaster has struck Earth and a small offshoot of the most fit and desirable people have been moved to an adjacent planet to start over. Young Ariana is one of the lucky few, happy and embracing her new life. But she's plagued by visions of a boy she doesn't know and the unwanted attentions of a boy she does, and now the leaders of Nova have imposed a new rule disguised under a reality TV show pageant.
First off, I love Ariana. She's interesting, without being whiny, and while she is skittish and mistrustful of the main love interest, I love how the relationship progresses. It was one of my favorite things about this book and was really well done. I got caught up in it. I also think the introduction of a potential love triangle was solid. Sometimes you wonder how someone can go from liking one person to liking another. That's answered in this story. What isn't answered is whom she will end up with. There's another installment, so I'm looking forward to that.
The author's writing style and the overall plot remind me of other YA stories I like, such as Hunger Games, but without the in-your-face violence. There is tragedy and danger, but it's a few degrees of separation away from the perspectives of the two main characters. Like David Estes' books, this one provides the name of the person from whose perspective the chapter (or section) is told. It doesn't bounce between the two often, but I love how glimmers of the other's goings on are sprinkled in. It's an interesting way to link the two and to move the story along and maintain the drive to turn that page one more time before bed.
That being said, the science part of this science fiction tale has some serious omissions and flaws. For a significant portion of the book, no, let's face it, for the entire book, I was caught up on the physics of having a large planet stationed 1200 miles away from Earth. This isn't a spoiler. It's in the description of the book. I had hoped that that was a typo, missing a zero or two, but it's very specifically and consistently stated throughout the book. Here's my beef with it. The moon is 238,000 miles from Earth. It affects our tides, and some folks even think it affects our moods. Assuming Nova is as big as the moon, one would also experience significant and noticeably less gravity on its surface. But, if the planet is as big in relation to Earth as it is on the book's cover, I would imagine that gravity on the surface would be the least of everyone's worries.
Now, add to that the fact that every single person, including the best and the brightest, has no problem with the idea of an actual planet being only 1200 miles away. I hoped that the location and the fact of the planet itself would be proven a lie, but the persistence of everyone believing it made me doubt that such a thing was in the works.
I didn't worry too much about the ESP and such, as I figure that's pretty much in the realm of fiction (or at least argued enough for some creative license). Plus, I dig a good book with some super, mind powers at work.
I also found a few parts confusing, or not quite thought out. There is technology monitoring the location of Nova's population. They are recorded and tracked. So, how can a secret rendezvous ever remain so, even if it happens to be in an undeveloped location. Wouldn't those watching notice someone traveling the same way and disappearing over and over? It doesn't say much for the characters in the book who don't think of this. I think teens are much smarter than that. I had hoped they would learn their lesson after a significant reminder or three of just how closely they are watched, but no.
So, overall, I love this book, despite the nearly constant pressing of my 'I believe' button. The romance, the suspense and the us vs. them of the story make it interesting and hard to put down, but those who like their science fiction to seem at least plausible, might find this one hard to swallow. Those who don't care about such things and are looking to lose themselves in a good YA story for a while will most definitely like this one.
I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and feedback.
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And for good measure, here's Siobhan Davis' page on Amazon. Book 2 is already there.