Earth has been destroyed, so civilization was moved to another planet. The powers that be turn this into a utopian society that is a little too perfect to be true, but the naïve public thinks nothing of it — too brainwashed and happy to really notice (I’m reminded of Emmet’s obliviousness in The Lego Movie). One unknowing schmuck ends up on the 1000 Most Wanted List and goes on an adventure, discovering that his world is not quite as it seems, all while being chased. This is a genre that I usually can’t get enough of (though mostly in movie form), but there was something about Your Call is Important to Us that just didn’t strike a chord with me. I kept reading it hoping I would get hooked to the point where I couldn’t put it down, but that never happened, leaving me feeling disappointed.
There’s the typical cast of characters: bumbly protagonist Barney Max; his robot personal assistant, Chops; his helpful friend, Veronica; underground rebels Raven, Gillemenie and Kalisha; investigator Felix Tubman; and Control, the governing body that has almost every citizen under its spell. While they all had a few quirks here and there, I never found myself attached to a singular character. I wasn’t pulling for anyone to succeed or fail; I just felt page after page of indifference toward each character.
The opening of the story starts out entertaining enough: Barney Max having a humorous phone conversation with a cybot from Red Hoop (or Tape) Consulting, a crisis hotline that is supposed to fix administrative errors, like Barney Max ending up on the List, even though its only for entertainment purposes and can’t help people who aren’t willing to help themselves. This start is clever and had me intrigued and excited for what was to come.
One thing that kept setting me back was the book’s use of time, adding “stretch” at the end of everything. Whether it be a minutestretch, hourstretch, yearstretch, it left me wondering how long that actually was in the Bunker. Barney was amazed when he learned that Earth, before it became a wasteland due to the corrupt leaders who ran it, had specific time measurements, and the days had actual meaning to them. He was used to one day being the same as every other. While I found the concept interesting (especially their explanation and use of Kris Mastery), the words themselves never sat well with me.
Your Call is Important to Us is the second in the “Bunker” series by author Adam Wasserman. I did not read its predecessor, Thank You For Your Cooperation, which made me feel like I walked into a movie five minutes late. Sure, I caught on to what was going on, but I didn’t get the full experience. The back of the book says that Your Call is Important to Us can be read on its own, and I would agree, though I feel that I would be more engaged had I read the first story, entering this world from the beginning.
What gets me is that this seems like a story I’ve read/seen many times before, just with different character names. Maybe my expectations of totally losing myself in the book were too high, but I was never able to get fully engrossed in the story. To me, Your Call is Important to Us was nothing more than sequenced words on a page that left my imagination yearning for more.