Jan. 11, 2021
reviewed by Max Birner
A Caller’s Game is relentlessly fast paced and is an explosive way to start out the 2021 reading year. All of it taking place in the SiriusXM building in New York, we follow the questionable but instantly entertaining character Jordan Briggs as she confronts past traumas and some of her most vindictive listeners.
While the book has tons of explosions, gun fights, and betrayals, the most nerve wracking sequences are the calls between Jordan and Bernie. It was like watching a psychological chess game, where Bernie holds the threat of death upon her as she persists “to not play by his rules.” But when you’re putting possibly two of the most sarcastic and diabolical characters head to head, the dialogue never fell flat for a split second.
What I love about this book so much is it takes similar concepts from Saw and action movies but gives us a refreshing take of characters and setting. Narrowed down to about only ten key characters and two perspectives, all the drama is easy to follow and well written. The calls are suspenseful, but what makes the situation truthfully terrifying is what was just a simple threat slowly becomes more suffocating as the danger becomes increasingly more high-staked. It’s the feeling of having all your security being taken away and Jordan having to deal with the fact that she might actually be this terrible person everyone is making her out to be. But when one’s notability or career is not at stake, what does Jordan have to lose? What is described as the only “redeemable” thing Bernie describes about Jordan, being her daughter, she is forced to make tough decisions and try to maintain a composure that is quickly crumbling with every new call.
While I think many will complain that there’s almost too much tension they could barely take a breath, I think it’s just JD Barker’s masterful writing being so engrossing it makes you feel like you’re watching a car chase, when in actuality the first half of this novel is just Jordan having to come to terms with past mistakes with slow and suspense filled revelations.
I can easily see A Caller’s Game being a great audiobook as it never requires one hundred percent of your attention (but you’ll probably give all of yours before finishing it anyway). The author’s note at the end really bumped this up from four stars to a five stars read, and I’m a person who rarely bothers to read whatever the author includes at the end of their books. This one really caught my eye where we get the author talking about his personal experience with the virus as a nice touch to end the book.