Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Pages: 390 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Borrowed it from a friend.

She sees dead people--and they see her.

Chloe Saunders used to have a pretty normal life. But that changed on the day she met her first ghost. Locked up in Lyle House, a group home for troubled teens, she finds out that there's more to the home's teen residents than meets the eye. Will Chloe be able to uncover the dangerous secrets of Lyle House...or will its skeletons come back to haunt her?

This thrilling first volume in the supernaturally charged Darkest Powers series by international bestselling author Kelley Armstrong will keep readers awake well into the darkest time of night.


Despite what a dead mother, a barely-there businessman father, and being an art school student might imply, Chloe Saunders is a fairly normal girl. Well, except for one or two things like having her period at fifteen and seeing ghosts. After her powers kick in at school, she is sent to Lyle House, a group home for teens with mental disorders like schizophrenia and anger issues. Making friends and enemies among her housemates, Chloe's powers, waved off as hallucinations, grow stronger and it appears that she may not be the only teen in the house that is the supernatural kind of different.

Until Kayla finally convinced me to take a look at the book and give it a try, I had no plans to ever read The Summoning or any of its sequels. The blurb just didn't do it for me and I wasn't interested. Then I lent Kayla my favorite book (oh The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, how I miss you!) and I decided a book exchange was in order now that I had time to read The Summoning. Thank goodness for friends that push books at you because otherwise, I might never have read this great book.

I love, love, loved Chloe. In a sea of heroines who rarely have any idea where they're going and have love on the brain, she was a breath of fresh air. Boyfriends were at the bottom of her list and the career she had in mind was so cool too--being a director?! So awesome. I liked Rae and my psychic senses made me like Tori because I know she's going to get development and become a great character even if she's just the mean girl right now. If she doesn't, it a true crime. Simon and Derek... I didn't really care for either of them. I didn't hate them (well, maybe I disliked Derek a little because of the way he treated Chloe half the time), but I didn't get in a tizzy over them either.

And Aunt Lauren? I really, really dislike her. That is all.

One could tell that the premise had a lot of thought put into it. Using the excuse of mental disorders to cover up supernatural powers was smart. That would explain the abnormal things they do (as long as witnesses are taken care of, which they usually are) and possibly, as it happened with Chloe, convince the actual patient that their powers are just delusions and make them question themselves. No one will believe unusual things said by a person in such a home, so any confessions of truth are less believable to an outsider. Another thing I loved? The lack of romance. Breaks from love are appreciated in a genre where every book and its cousin has a romantic plot or subplot. It makes me kind of sad to know that a love triangle is going to enter the picture in a later book. But that's just me.

Certain elements of the book involving Derek and Lyle House were very predictable for me. I'm not sure whether or not these had already been spoiled for me because I forgot, but I felt that the signs were very obvious. How easily the teens could sneak around the house and trick the employees was also a little implausible. The teens may have been the "learning to deal with it" kind, but they still had mental disorders that required supervision. Would they really be able to sneak around so easily at night and trick the employees into thinking they took their meds? I'm sure they've seen the "hide the meds under the tongue" trick before.

I liked these books and thought the concept was really interesting and all, but I'm not sure if I want to keep reading. I don't really feel the motivation to read the sequels, for whatever reason and I'm aware that there is a lengthy TV Tropes page for this series (which is a great testament to its popularity). I've already got too many books on my hands, including two that are ARC/review copies and slightly high-priority, so I definitely can't read the sequels now. Hold on to The Awakening and The Reckoning for now, Kayla. And give me Frankie back. And maybe even let me snatch a few more books.

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter