Thursday, April 8, 2010
The Calling by David Mack
Synopsis From Back Cover:
No one would guess by looking at Tom Nash that he's extraordinary, and that's just fine with him. A tall, broad-shouldered jack-of-all-trades from Sawyer, Pennsylvania. Tom has a knack for fixing things. He also hides a secret talent: he hears people's prayers. Stranger still, he answers them. Maybe it's because he's a handyman, but Tom feels compelled to fix people's problems. Which is all well and good-until the soul-shattering plea of a terrified girl sends him on the darkest journey of his life...
Heeding the call and leaving his home for New York City. Tom discovers a secret world beyond the range of mortal perception-a world of angels and demons and those who serve them. With the guidance of a knowing stranger named Erin, Tom learns that he himself is one of The Called, born with a divine purpose and a daunting task: to help the powers of Heaven in the war against the agents of Hell, an army of fallen angels known as the Scorned. Thrust into an epic battle of the sacred and the profane, Tom Nash must find the girl who prayed for his help-because her fate will determine whether humanity deserves to be saved, or damned for all eternity....
Pretty good synopsis, right? I agree, the back cover makes this book sound like an epic battle of good vs. evil, which I can never turn down. For the most part, the book lives up to it's potential, there were only a few issues I had with it.
I'll start with what I really did enjoy about the book, which is Tom himself. Tom is that guy that lives on your block who is always willing to give you a hand and never asks for anything in return. He is the all-American good guy who tries to do the right by people. He has one of those faces and smiles that you instantly trust and like. Were a lot of people would run away from such a gift, not wanting to get involved in the problems of others, Tom feels a strong sense of purpose to help those who's prayers he hears.
Now that I got that out of the way I will let you know the first "problem" I had with this book. I understand that a book like this should be a little violent at times, actually I would be dissapointed if it hadn't of been. I don't even have a problem with the level of violence in the book itself. My issue is with how Tom ends up reacting to the violence. There is one segment where Tom is being chased, plus doing some chasing of his own, through the subway system. There was supposed to be a ransom drop off but it goes horribly wrong. Police officers, national guardsmen, and innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the way get blown away by the bad guys. I lost count of how many people die in this segment but I think it would be safe to say that it would be in the mid double digits. Some of those people die because Tom is running from the bad guys and since they are obviously really bad shots they end up shooting everyone else but Tom.
A guy like Tom, at least the guy we've gotten to know throughout most of the book, would be racked by guilt or at the least feel a real sense of responsibility for all those deaths, even if he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger. Other than a few words sprinkled throughout the scene you really don't feel that Tom is really caring all that much for the innocent llifes being lost. Now you could chalk that up to being in the heat of the moment, running for your life, so you may not really have time to care. I could accept that actually, but what I couldn't accept was the face that it really isn't mentioned after the scene either. Tom doesn't really seem to react to what just happened. Even at the end of the book, when Tom meets one of the guys in charge, it's never brought up except in a off handed way that had more to do with how Tom used his powers to get out of the situation. I wanted more from him, I wanted him to feel something about what happened.
Now the second issue I had with the book has more to do with the publisher than the book itself. It's also a issue I find with a lot of books, the synopsis on the back cover. The last line "Thrust into an epic battle of the sacred and the profane, Tom Nash must find the girl who prayed for his help-because her fate will determine whether humanity deserves to be saved, or damned for all eternity...." gives you the impression that if this young girl is not saved, the Earth as we know it and all of humanity will be doomed too suffering beyond our wildest dreams. Now do I really need to tell you that the last line was a tad bit overstated? Yes the girl, when she grows up, will be on the side of The Called, she has powers of her own that will come in useful to them down the line. However, everything I understand about the book and The Called gives me the impression that there will always be others ready to step in when one of them falls. That no one person, except maybe Tom which is hinted at, is all that instrumental to the cause. Each loss is felt and grieved but there is always someone else ready to do the job. Like I said, this is a issue I have with a lot of books, especially in the fantasty/scifi/paranormal genres. I just wish the publishers would quit overstating the plot and let the reader discover it for themselves.
With all the being said I will leave you with the knowledge that I really did enjoy the book overall. It was a fast paced thriller set in a world of angels and demons, a world of danger that can come out of anyplace or from anyone. I am really looking forward to the next in the series so I can get caught up with Tom and his journey.