f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning / Kelley Armstrong
Published: 07.01.2008 (HarperTeen)
Pages: 390
Series: The Darkest Powers (1)
Rating:  4 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads / Amazon

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

My Review

Fifteen year old Chloe Saunders lands in Lyle House after she gets her period and starts seeing ghosts - all in the same day.  I immediately wanted to hug Chloe, who is thrown into a new situation and into a group home for "troubled" kids, and, all things considers, adapts fairly well.  I liked Chloe immediately - Kelley Armstrong writes female leads very well.  Chloe is a character that I felt for, but I didn't feel sorry for her.  Maybe it was because of her inner monologue, where we see a little bit of cheek, which I like or maybe it was just that Chloe, even surrounded by strangers as the plot thickens, doesn't give up.  She keeps questioning her circumstances and her surroundings.   She's intelligent, and she knows her strengths and her weaknesses. 

Chloe struggles with the diagnosis the adults in charge of Lyle House give her.  She knows there is something more going on, and she starts investigating, as scared as uncovering the truth makes her.  With the "help" of standoff-ish Derek (a sixteen year old near-genius with some real personality issues) and his foster brother, Simon (a cute, half-trained sorcerer) Chloe begins looking for answers.  Along the way she encounters firebug Rae and disgruntled, spoiled, and wounded Tori.  Each of these characters defy stereotypes, instead bringing fresh life into the pages of a premise that could have fallen flat, but with Kelley Armstrong's writing style, and story-telling ability, instead becomes a really poignant and slightly scary coming-of-age story.

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the introduction of Derek.  Simon is sweet and considerate and thoughtful, but Derek.  Derek is brusque and honest and has no idea how to show anyone - least of all Chloe - that he is trying to protect them, or in this case, her.  Under his tough exterior, Derek has his own fears, and I loved seeing Chloe start getting to him, little by little.  As much as they infuriated one another, they kept one another on their toes, too.  Any good relationship, even be it friendship, needs a little conflict to keep things interesting, and these two definitely had that!

I guess my only real complaint is that I wish we'd gotten to see a little more of a few of the supporting characters (Liz, Peter, etc) before they were gone.  And although a few of the villains motivations were supremely clear, there were a few other characters who i wasn't sure if they had gotten carried along for the ride, if they were ignorant of what was going on, or if  they were just supposed to be plain old evil.  Either way by the end of the book I had to know more about how this group of supernaturals had all "accidentally" ended up in a group home. 

This book has it all: mystery, a little tinge of romance that is so subtly done that it is just gorgeous in its simplicity, and the supernatural.  Kelley Armstrong's young adult paranormal romance is supremely satisfying, with genuine characters that I ended up caring about, enough to go grab the sequel, The Awakening, immediately after finishing The Summoning.  

Memorable Quote

I let out a laugh that sounded more like the yip of a startled poodle. "Superp-powers? I wish. My powers aren't winning me a slot on the Cartoon Network anytime soon... except as a comic relief. Ghost Whisperer Junior. Or Ghost Screamer, more like it. Tune in, every week, as Chloe Saunders runs screaming from yet another ghost looking for her help."- Chloe.