The Awakening and The Reckoning (Darkest Powers #2 and #3) by Kelley Armstrong, published by HarperCollins in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Source: the public library.
Chloe Saunders is not your average supernatural teenager. Genetically altered at birth by a sinister team of scientists, she can barely control her terrifying powers. Now the team that created her has decided it’s time to end the experiment. Permanently.
Now Chloe is running for her life along with a charming sorcerer, a troubled werewolf and a temperamental young witch. Together they have a chance for freedom – but can Chloe trust her new friends? (Goodreads)
Source: the public library.
Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them.
As if that’s not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf… (Goodreads)
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My rating (for both): 3/5
Attention: *spoilers* (I have to write this down as a policy, but I think that when this much time has passed – 4 years from the publication of the last instalment – the no-spoilers rule becomes obsolete.)
As optimistic as I was at the end of The Summoning (my review), the second and third instalment of The Darkest Powers trilogy left me with a profound feeling of meh. As good as the action was and as cute as Chloe and Derek were, I just didn’t feel involved enough to truly care.
I think the story and the characters had potential, as I’ve said before. I just think that these two parts should really be one, and the story should have been given a truer ending. I felt like there was another series coming (there is one, already out, apparently, but the synopses of the books seem to indicate it’s a whole different story in the same world? No Chloe and Derek, anyhow.) and that this was just a pit stop on the road. I don’t particularly care if the separate books in a series don’t end in a concluded manner – if the story just flows from one book to the other – especially if I’m reading a series where all the parts have already been published, but I’m very partial to a well-rounded ending of the series. I mean – doesn’t it make sense?
I did like the fact that Chloe didn’t go for the obvious choice of the cute, likeable sorcerer Simon, but rather fell for the much more complicated werewolf Derek. I always vote for the underdog (haha) and I feel there’s something inherently cool in having your love interest change into a furry beast once in a while. Especially if he’s sentient while in said beast body. Chloe still has that “Hell, I don’t need boys” attitude, though, and I think it’s important to note this, especially in the flood of dependent girls in the YA paranormal fantasy field. She thinks: “And so what? With everything that was going on, was I really feeling sorry for myself because a cute guy wasn’t interested in me ‘that way’? That made me worse than boring. It made me the silly twit Derek seemed to think I was.” The romance, when it develops, is cute and slow, as I think teenage romances often are.
Chloe does grow in the story, and I enjoyed the parts where she rethinks her actions and learns from them: “Now, looking back at a life of doing what I was told, I realized I’d bought into the game. When adults patted me on the head and told me I was so grown-up, what they really meant was that they were glad I wasn’t grown-up enough yet to question, to fight back.” Armstrong also keeps the fresh attitude towards the developing human bodies of the characters, mentioning everything from sweating and non-existent breasts to “bodily needs” and toilets. I’m not saying the pages are full of poop and pubic hair, just that concerns of the body are such a large part of growing up that books that don’t mention them always seem faulty to me.
What bothered me a bit was Chloe fussing about going on a first date when she was *gasp* already fifteen years old – I had my first date when I was 17 and I always felt like such a loser when I read about pretty girls who bitched about not having been kissed before some predetermined age limit. Let’s all just accept that some people start early and some start late, but neither is necessarily good or bad.
I also feel that Armstrong opened a number of questions in the series that were left unanswered: Who the hell are Cabal? Where will these fugitives live? What will happen to other kids who were the subjects of other experimental programmes? Yeah. I miss the closure.
So did I enjoy reading the series? I did. I read the three parts in two days, I think, and they’re a fun and easy read. But I won’t say they’re brimming with literary innovation, nor is the series one of my all-time favourites. I wish Armstrong had made the ending different, but I’m sure that there are readers who thought it was just fine. I’d like to try another series of hers.