Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: The Summoning- Kelley Armstrong

After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She’s 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…

I previously reviewed ‘The Reckoning’ and gave a mini review of the first two books with it. So why am I re-reviewing now? Because I just re-read the series after loving The Gathering, part of a sequel trilogy, and I realized that I love these books too much not to do them justice.

I have a bit of a gripe with the blurb, because it makes Chloe seem a bit shallow.  She’s not. One of the things I loved most about her was that she was refreshingly normal—she has insecurities, and sure, she’s not above daydreaming about her first kiss, but she’s fifteen, after all. Weren’t we all that way? Unlike a lot of YA protagonists these days, Chloe really felt like she was the age she’s written to be. She’s not without her flaws; she stutters, and she often gives people far too much benefit of the doubt. The way she changes throughout the series where these things are concerned was a subtle way of indicating her growth, and one I enjoyed.

I loved the way that Chloe’s obsession with film influenced her perspective on the things that were happening to her, especially with regards to her powers developing. For example, when she’s starting to come to the conclusion that she isn’t insane, she says:

Well, what would you think if you were seeing this in one of your movies? I'd run to the screen and smack this silly girl who was staring the truth in the face, too dumb to see it. No, not too dumb. Too stubborn.

It was a nice way of characterizing Chloe by showing us what’s she’s like, rather than just telling us what she likes. In fact, this slow and steady characterization is one of the things I love most about this series—we’re constantly adding puzzle pieces to our mental images of the characters. It’s not just Chloe, either; my opinions of Derek and Tori flip-flopped throughout the book, in a good way, as I found out more and more about them.

The supernatural element was hinted at in this instalment, and I’ll say that it’s a well-developed spin on traditional magical creatures. I’ve mentioned this in my review of The Gathering, but Kelly Armstrong constantly dishes up spine-tingling suspense, and she’s at her best in Chloe’s scenes with the dead. For a book that’s not explicitly horror, it’s given me a whole lot of nerve-wracking it’s-dark-and-midnight moments! That said, it’s not without humour; there’s a certain scene involving a mason jar and urine that had me snickering beyond belief.

In short: suspenseful, supernatural and just a little bit scary, The Summoning definitely ticks all my boxes. Stay tuned for a re-review of The Awakening

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1 comment:

  1. Great review! I haven't added this series to my wishlist since I don't usually like supernatural books, but your review made me change my mind - it sounds like there's more to the series than that one aspect. I'll add it to my wishlist (:

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