Monday, January 17, 2011

The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkest Powers #1
Published: April 1, 2009 by HarperCollins
(390 pages, paperback)
Summary:  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, and 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…
My thoughts: Let me just start out by saying, I really loved Chloe in The Summoning; despite my complaints about the story line, and the plot holes I noted, Chloe was a great protagonist. Firstly, she was a nice girl. And who doesn't like a sweet girl as the protagonist? Secondly, Chloe doesn't think she's seeing dead people until someone proves she's seeing dead people. Her natural responses made me connect better with her and even allowed me to feel some of her emotions even when weird, unexplainable stuff was happening. Thirdly, and lastly, she took action. I caqn't tell you how many times I've come across protagonists who sit around, moping and whining becaus something out of the ordinary happend, not only did Chloe respond, she responded in a believable, somewhat intelligent way. Even if I didn't agree with her reasoning,  still understood why she made the choices she did.
Okay, so I like Chloe; what I didn't like, however, was how easy everything was. I mean, it's not like she woke up one day, saw a ghost, thought she was crazy, realized she wasn't, and the world went back to normal. That's not at all what happened. But still, thefact that there are all of these supernaturals all over the place, and the fact that so many of them are at the same mental house seemed a little too far-fetched. Despite the fact that Chloe even mentions how weird it is, it still felt a little too simple to not have a more complex explanation. But maybe that will be cleared up more in the sequels.
I loved a lot of the secondary characters; Derek was my favorite. Okay, so Simon was the cute one; I liked Derek, the poor, puberty-stricken boy who seems to be shadowing Chloe around the house. I think he’s more complex than he seemed and I’d like to read more on his back-story and find out more about what exactly he is. I’m trying hard to keep this review non-spoiler-y, since a lot of the revelations come in the latter half of the book, so I’ll just say that while the developments were interesting and definitely intriguing, Simon was a good character, and I’m hoping for a tiny bit of a romance maybe involving him and Chloe. But really, it was hard to tell whether there was anything there at all. Rae was my second favorite character; even though she was somewhat sometimes immature, she was often the only voice of reason and I’m interested to see where her story is going, and how she’s going to help (or hinder) Chloe.
Even though I would think it was freaky to see dead people and even be able to raise them, I liked the idea. It was somewhat original and well executed when it came to Chloe’s response and the powers she actually possessed. I’m still not totally sold on the idea of supernatural beings being everywhere and never being noticed. Again, I’ll keep the review non-spoiler, but it’s hard to explain unless you’ve read the book. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the explanations, but it was still intriguing enough to make me forgive most of that.
The cliffhanger ending seemed like more of a device than a nicely written ending. There was absolutely no closure; I’ll definitely get the sequel, because, despite my complaining, the series is definitely dark and even more interesting. Plus, I’m desperate to find out what happens next. I’ll give Armstrong one thing: she’s great at luring readers in and keeping them there. The story was mostly predictable but it was okay in the end, because the book wasn’t a deep, thought-provoking one, just a scary story with an interesting cast of characters and a strange plot. Overall, The Summoning was a great read at face value, but a good book in the grand scheme of things. I’m caught between loving the (somewhat) original story and just enjoying the lightness.
Covering the Cover: I really like the cover; the girl is a nice model of Chloe, and the necklace gives it a paranormal look that fits the story.
Characters: 4.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars


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