Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Once again, unfortunately this review contains spoilers for those who haven’t both read this book and read this far in The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve already read and reviewed The Summoning and the The Awakening.

My name is Chloe Saunders. I’m fifteen, and I would love to be normal. But normal is one thing I’m not.

For one thing, I’m having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sw eet-tempered brother–who just happens to be a sorcerer–but, between you and me, I’m leaning toward the werewolf. Not normal.

My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us…permanently. Definitely not normal.

And finally, I’m a genetically altered necromancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying. As far away from normal as it gets.

If I didn’t know that there was another book following this trilogy, The Gathering, then I would say well that didn’t end very well did it? It felt unfinished, but with The Gathering coming out, even though I know it’s not following the same main character, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how unfinished this trilogy was (I’m starting to wonder now if all her books feel unfinished or if it’s just the ones I’ve read).

I guess you could say I’m going backwards with sharing thoughts on the book, but the ending really bugged me because after being completely immersed in this story for two days (that’s how engrossing it was! 3 books in two days. I may need a break) the ending felt rushed and a little unsatisfactory because of it.

It also didn’t help that the story started out particularly frustrating, especially with Simon and the adults that come along. First I feel there are three stages to Simon in the trilogy all the way up to the first 100-150 pages in The Reckoning.

The Three Stages of Simon

  • Book one: Playing the nice guy role. Has some potential to be a full-fledged character, but seems to give the nasty suspicion of a go between.
  • Book Two: Jealous much? Trying to insinuate himself into a situation and get all chummy. Bleurgh. This makes more sense in the tail end of book three, but still when it comes to reading a character who is trying to get in on everything you start to wonder just how desperate that person is. No one likes being around desperation in normal life, why do we want to read it?
  • Book Three: Annoying, just annoying. Interrupting all the time. Something starts to happen and Simon just happens to pop up! Is someone feeling left out is he? What a pain in the arse.

For me he has gone from a go between character, to a one dimensional character, to a jealous character, and then the whole vying for Chloe’s attention drove me nuts. I wasn’t even past the 50 page mark before I decided I’d had absolutely enough of Simon and I wanted him to piss off. I don’t know about this ploy if it is a ploy and it must be a ploy. An unnecessary ploy that is grating.

And the adults are so frustrating and annoying, especially Margaret (Chloe’s Instructor) who just won’t listen. It really bugs me in YA lit when adults come along and won’t listen. It happens too much and it drives me up the bloody wall. Why, does it feel as if the majority of adults in YA lit in particular have to be so oblivious (even if there’s a reason for it)? It does not make for interesting reading. It makes for frustrating reading! My annoyance and frustration meter was ramped up so much in the first 70 pages I was starting to question if I would enjoy any of this book at all. Bleurgh. Again.

You know what I dislike about love stories? There’s always a pity party in there somewhere. At some point the character fucks up, even just a little, and then it’s all why me? Oh why me? Oh why am I such a screw up? No one loves me! Boo hoo, blah blah blah… and so on and so forth. So far it had been avoided for the most part in this story, but here it was in the last one. Hmm maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Finishing the story with a bit if self-deprecation is never attractive because self-deprecation just isn’t attractive most of the time (unless you have a sense of humour and the right attitude to pull it off without people wanting to sock you one).

That’s enough of my bitching though because even though I had a crazy level of frustration and it sounds like the book made me angry, well it didn’t really. Those problems just stuck out like sore thumbs and unfortunately lasted afterwards when it comes to thoughts of the book, but as a whole I did enjoy it. Not as much as the first two, but Simon’s one dimensionality isn’t really a big issue and he stops being so annoying further on, Tori even stops being a pain in the arse with the constant bickering (I like banter in stories, but bickering can be pretty painful), and I did have a major problem putting the book down. I read it in 6 hours. I usually try not to do that, but this time I couldn’t help myself.

The ending, Simon, adult vs. adolescent interaction stereotypes, and a misleading title (The Reckoning? Really? Where was this reckoning? Death isn’t reckoning), just left a bad taste in my mouth, but on a whole, with the other two, it’s still engrossing.

  • Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
  • Demographic: YA
  • Reminds Me Of: Dark Angel and sections of Bitten by the same author
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: Off The Shelf!

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for disturbed teens.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

This is the second time I have read The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, the first in her Darkest Powers trilogy, as a re-read in preparation for the next two that I hadn’t read till now, making it hard to review with the same amount of enthusiasm as someone who had read this without knowledge of it. Yet maybe it’s a good thing because I enjoyed it thoroughly the next time round, haven’t changed my rating or opinion on it either, and surely that must tell you it is a readable story?

It’s one of those books, at least to me, where it is such an easy read. It goes so fast, it’s like you’re sucking the words up akin to a vacuum cleaner. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is a light read, albeit it is lighter than most (such as classic lit for instance), but it still delves into a few darker and heavier issues such as ostracism. Granted that is almost in every young adult novel, or at least the pressure of feeling outcast when they are not, and yes it is in a lot of books that aren’t young adult, but I think I appreciate the delivery more compared to a lot of other novels.

However, I think when it comes to the use of ostracism in a novel, it’s a ploy that is so worn out that it can be too overly done in a story and ruin it. I like how Armstrong takes it and uses it in this scenario though without a major emphasis on it. The emphasis feels more like an internal struggle of acceptance, and when it involves acceptance, it doesn’t take that long before the characters start getting there. Of course there’s always something going on, but it’s nice when a novel has some intrigue and you don’t learn everything about the characters – personality or otherwise – before the end of the book. I probably wouldn’t keep reading otherwise.

Basically it’s a pretty good read. It’s entertaining, easy to absorb and be taken in by, has enough intrigue to keep you reading, and I think it has just the right amount of supernatural without being saturated (sometimes that’s better).

  • Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
  • Demographic: Mid-Late teens, but good for Adults as well.
  • Reminds Me Of: I’m sure there’s something Urban Fantasy-esque out there that involves an institution of some kind.
  • Rating Out of Five: 4 1/2
  • Challenges: N/A