The Invasion by Peadar Ó Guilín
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the second book of the Call duology. I haven't read the first book, and to put it bluntly, this book is such a hot mess that I'm not going to pick it up.
Problems. Where do we start? The big ones here are the characterization and the pacing. The pacing is the font from which all the other problems flow. Since this entire book is basically one big fight and chase scene, the author hardly has time to spend on his characters (although he doesn't seem much inclined to develop them anyway). I'm hitting hard on this because I just watched a program on Netflix, Springsteen on Broadway, that brings home everything this book is lacking. (This is not SFF, but bear with me.) Bruce Springsteen is a natural storyteller; if you haven't read his autobiography, you're missing out on a treat. You wouldn't think two hours alone on a stage, telling stories and singing songs, would hold an audience's attention, but it absolutely works. Why? Because Springsteen has a thorough understanding of dynamics, flow and pacing. He varies his pitch, speed and volume throughout the show; the arc of his stories bounces upward to a few shouted sentences, then down to whispers, and the overall effect is mesmerizing. This is exactly what this book is lacking, and 321 pages of (in effect) frenzied over-the-top running and shouting gets damned tiresome after a while. If there was any depth to the characters, this could be partially overcome, but calling them cardboard is being kind. In addition, there's little to no exploration of the worldbuilding, which had the potential to be interesting, if the author had given it room to breathe.
Also, this book is far more a horror novel than it seems. In fact, if you have an aversion to body horror, you'd best not start reading this, because there is a lot of it. Far more than I would have expected for an ostensibly young-adult novel. I did finish the book, but because the characters failed to engage me, I really didn't care what happened to any of them. It's disappointing, because I think there could have been a good story here, if the author had taken a deep breath and slowed to a walk.
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