The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong
February 5, 2009
The Summoning is the first book of Armstrong’s young adult trilogy. It takes place in the same world as her other novels, but don’t worry about missing anything if you haven’t checked those out. The main character is Chloe Saunders, a teenager who is sent to a group home after seeing an angry ghost. The staff members at Lyle House say that she needs therapy and medication, but strange events continue to happen around Chloe and her unusual housemates.
I was happy to see some good character development among the other kids living at Lyle House. I’ve read too many YA novels (and to be honest, adult novels) where my initial impression of the supporting characters remained fairly accurate, so I always appreciate it when they manage to surprise me. There were a few plot twists that I saw coming, but Chloe’s reaction to them was well written enough that they still had an impact.
Armstrong does a good job of characterizing the kids as teens (having young characters that feel too mature is a pet peeve of mine). This is especially true when it comes to some of their reactions and mistakes. Thankfully she doesn’t take this too far. Unlike some of the books I’ve read in the past few years, the teens don’t get into slang (or worse, “teen issues” obviously picked up from a talk show) enough to come across as awkward or patronizing. There is one scene, and I say this as a gamer, that I found goofy because Pictochat became a plot point.
Chloe accepted the supernatural world really quickly. And she seemed just a little too trusting when it came to details that she was told by one specific character, especially when she was so skeptical about things that she heard from others. It makes sense in context of the story, I just thought that the idea of supernatural teens being diagnosed with mental illnesses was a great one and it would have been interesting to see Chloe a little more conflicted over it.
Unfortunately, this book ends on a major cliffhanger, which I found really unsatisfying. I know that series books are the norm now, but I still expect each individual volume to have a defined ending instead of just leaving me hanging around until the next release. I’m sure it won’t bother some people, but such a seemingly arbitrary stopping point was more than a little frustrating.
I’d recommend this for any urban fantasy readers who won’t be put off by teenage main characters, though you may want to wait until a little closer to April, when the second book (The Awakening) will be released. Apparently I’m not the only one put off a bit by the sudden ending, because the next book will have “a softer landing” according to Kelley Armstrong’s Amazon blog. Yay!