Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Bowers 1)

The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)

Pages: 390
Genre: Teenage Fiction, Fantasy
Release Date: 2009
1st Published: 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins
Bought it from a store.

Chloe Saunders has a gift. And that makes her dangerous...

All Chloe ever wanted was to be normal. But when she starts seeing ghosts at school, she knows that life will never be normal again. When she finally breaks down, she’s admitted to Lyle House – a group home for disturbed teenagers.

As she gets to know the other students – charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek; obnoxious Tori; and Rae, who has a ‘thing’ for fire – Chloe begins to realise that something strange and sinister binds them all together.

'The Summoning' by Kelley Armstrong was a book that I enjoyed despite my high and misleading expectations. This is the first book that I have read by Armstrong and I am very glad to report that she is quite the story teller. Yes, all the bloggers are correct! (I haven't heard anything bad about her yet).

I bought this book in a pack that was described to contain three of the best books in teenage vampire fiction. That would have to be a lie because Richelle Mead was not included in this pack. I found this to either be entirely misleading or highly revealing, because there were no vampires in this book. Therefore I have concluded that either the people making the box set packs did not know this, or there are to be vampires later on in the series (revealing).

Like many other books that start off a series 'The Summoning didn't really have a resolution. The novel consisted of introductions to characters, plot, more plot and a few shocking revelations (Did I mention Plot?). This didn't bother me though. Really, with most series I learn to expect this sort of thing. Despite the lack of structure the story was still quite exciting. The shape of the excitement however, is different. If you were to graph it there would be no turning point. And, quite obviously, a cliffhanger...

I really really liked the way the story was written! 'The Summoning' was written in first person, Chloe being the character to tell it to us. Chloe is a bit of a film fanatic who wishes to one day become a famous director or screenwriter. As far as I can tell she still hasn't decided yet. When given a difficult situation Chloe visualises a film set. For this the writing style changes to screenplay mode. Also, because the character lives such a sheltered life she finds ordinary chores and things exciting. She views it all as much needed life experience that she can put into use when she writes/directs her first big film. How original!

Another interesting thing about this story is the lack of insta-love. Thank goodness! There is a bit of a strange love triangle implied, but no one really jumps out and says it. There are two foster-brothers living at Lyle House. Derek tries to push his brother toward Chloe so that he will have a motivation of sorts. This is obvious. Chloe asks him about it. But, as for Chloe and Simon actually getting romantic? They seem more like friends. Chloe seems to actually be leaning more toward Derek, but nobody really says so. Including Chloe. I also thought that was interesting. Derek isn't your stereotypical supernatural boyfriend. He sure acts like one, he's strong enough to be one, but he doesn't have the most attractive face and he's more like the hulk in terms of muscle.

There were a few interesting topics brought up in this novel, too. It made me think a lot more about mental illness and how it affects how you are treated by your family. There was also this concept about the line between fantasy and reality, which I found to be really interesting. Really what is the difference between having supernatural powers and thinking that you have them? Are all the characters in fantasy novels magic or are they delusional? And, I also thought a lot more about who you can trust. If you were a mental patient how do you know that you can trust your doctors or family? 'The Summoning' brought up all these obvious things that I had never really thought about, despite my love for books about crazy people.

The one thing that I didn't appreciate about this book sometimes was the unnecessary detail. It wasn't that the author was overly descriptive, it was just that she included some things in the story line which were perhaps more suited to adult literature. There wasn't any sex or anything like that, but there was a bit about puberty and other bodily functions. I think it was lame because it wasn't really necessary to make the story work and it would probably gross out some people. It was realistic, but not required.

Overall, I'd have to say a great read. Apart from a few things. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. As tiring as it sounds I'm definitely keen to read the rest of the series.
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