Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)

Title: The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: ZebHarperTeen
Publishing Date: July 1st 2008
Hardcover: 390 pages
Stand Alone or series:

Summary: (from Goodreads)
After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she’s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts–everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe’s small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home–charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a “thing” for fire–Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn’t your usual “problem kid” behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…
Review:

As the summary says, this story is about Chloe Saunders, a fifteen year old necromancer just beginning to realize her powers. On the onset of her powers, which she had no clue or warning about, Chloe ends up freaking out at school and is placed in a house for mentally ill teens. When she arrives at Lyle House, Chloe discovers that her fellow patients also have unusual powers and all is not what it seems to be.

Hmm…I’m a little conflicted about this story to be honest. Though the story started out really well, there wasn’t a lot of progress through most of the book. I understand that Chloe needs time in order to get used to the idea that she can see ghosts, but I thought the story dragged on in some places. This book is the first of a planned series and it definitely had that “first book” vibe. While there was a lot of setup not very much actual happened.

The plus side to the slow moving plot is the way I was able to get to know each of the different kids at Lyle House. As with any house full of teenage boys and girls there is a lot of different tension inducing interactions. While I did think some of the characters were a bit clich├ęd (the jealous stuck up girl and the withdrawn loner with a heart of gold), Armstrong’s writing really kept things interesting and at times really funny.

As a character Chloe is the best kind. She’ll make you frustrated and annoyed and yet you’ll find yourself rooting for her the whole time. She does have a tendency to throw stones and be a bit judgmental while excusing her own behavior, but this comes off as genuine rather then contrived. Because ultimately Chloe is a young woman whose entire life has been turned upside down and the process of growing into one’s skin is never an easy one (as thousands of YA coming-to-age stories will prove). One of my favorite things about Chloe is how she actually has a passion about film and isn’t obsessed with finding a boyfriend. It’s a nice break from the Bella flatness some characters seem to have going for them and the “meant-to-be” vibe almost every YA book I’ve ever read has going. Out of everyone though, I thought Derek was the most complex character in this story. I think it’s interesting to see how Chloe sees one thing in his behavior when he is so obviously genuine. Watching Chloe slowly realize Derek isn’t what she initially thought was my favorite part of the story. I have a sneaky suspicion this process with Chloe and Derek isn’t over yet.

My biggest complaint about this story is the fact that it ends abruptly and with a major cliffhanger. I freggin HATE books that end on a big cliffhanger. While I’m sure there are plenty of reasons an author would choose to do such an annoying thing, I can’t help but feel like the author is trying to con me into reading the next book. This is the reason I never read book two of the Warden series. An author should rely on their talent as a writer rather then reader curiosity to sell books. While I am planning on reading the second book in this series (since the library already has it and the third installment comes out in April) I probably wouldn’t do so if this book wasn’t a trilogy. Because really, this book by itself is not satisfying. Like I said, it drags on for most of the book and yet when shit finally does hit the fan the book ends rather hastily. While I appreciated the twist at the end (which made Chloe being sent to Lyle House much more plausible) I really think this book could have been better developed into its own story. Instead this book felt like an incomplete story.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

I loved every moment Chloe and Derek spent together. You can look inside the book here:




Verdict:

Besides the abrupt ending I adored this book. In fact, I liked it a lot more then I thought I would. It’s nice to read a strong, but believable, female character with nary a shopping trip or husband obsession in sight. I already put the second book in the series, The Awakening, on hold at the library and I plan on devouring it tomorrow.

Rating: 7 -Very good

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