Review of “The Summoning” by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1) by Kelley Armstrong, published by HarperCollins in 2008.

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Source: library.

summoning

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me. (HarperCollins)

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My rating: 3.5/5 (I can see that this system will require some upgrading in the future)

So … I liked this book. But it begins slowly. Following Chloe through her supposed mental breakdown and subsequent discovery of her powers, I could see and hear her saying things, but at first, I just wasn’t feeling them. I got the descriptions of the events and her emotions, but was left with a sketch only, with little colour and shading, if that makes sense. But then the story started getting interesting. And I flew through it in a matter of hours, and I’ve already gotten the other two parts from the library. So I have high hopes for the rest of the series!

The other thing that bothered me at first was that Armstrong seemed (again, only at first!) to make a list of teenage problems and checked one after the other. Awkward hair day. Check. Absentee Dad. Check. Boy trouble. Check. First period. Check. (This one was truly abrupt, she just barged into the topic on page 7, though I’m really glad that someone managed to mention menstrual problems in a YA book – I always wonder what the authors of vampire novels were thinking when they left this “little problem” out.)

But then I got to like Chloe. She’s fifteen, she’s shy and she’s into movie directing. She copes with scary situations like they were movie scenes she was filming – a technique I’ll remember for the next time I’m somewhere dark and unpleasant. I hate the dark. I sleep with a light on when I’m home alone…

And then there are the boys. At first, I automatically began searching for the ubiquitous lovematch, and, failing to find an obvious, strong connection, felt the first stirrings of disappointment. And then I kicked myself – why would all YA have to feature love stories? Truth be said, I think I can sense an unusual one brewing here, but Chloe is 15 years old and has just found out she can communicate with ghosts. So, as she said, getting a boyfriend in a home for troubled teens is the last thing on her mind.

In fact, Chloe has a refreshingly down-to-earth opinions about boys and relationships. She complains about the normal social responses to weird boy behaviour: “Why is it that every time a girl says a guy is bothering her, it’s fluffed off with oh, he just likes you, as if that makes it ok?” and actually acts on her own instead of being a damsel in distress: “I still thought they’d come back after things died down. /…/ And maybe that makes me a silly girl who’s watched too many movies where the good guy always comes back to save the day. /…/ That did not, however, mean I was sitting here like an action-flick girlfriend, twiddling my thumbs waiting for rescue. I might be naive, but I wasn’t stupid.” Go Chloe!

So yeah, you’ll be hearing more from me about The Awakening and The Reckoning, the remaining two parts of the trilogy.

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In unrelated news: I got my first mechanical keyboard today and it’s so soft and I could just type forever and I think I’m in love.

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See my review of parts 2 and 3 of The Darkest Powers trilogy here.