Series Review: Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

Book: The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: July 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Darkest Powers #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) After years of frequent moves following her motherâ??s death, Chloe Saundersâ??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 sheâ??s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts â?? 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 Chloeâ??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 â?? charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a â??thingâ? for fire â?? Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isnâ??t your usual â??problem kidâ? behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home eitherâ?¦

Book: The Awakening
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: April 28, 2009
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Darkest Powers #2

Summary: (from Goodreads) If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl â?? someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment â?? not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I’m a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends â?? a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch â?? and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

Book: The Reckoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: April 6, 2010
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Darkest Powers #3

Summary: (from Goodreads) Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I’m on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We’re hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We’ll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we’d left behind and take out the Edison Group . . . or so we hope.

First impressions: It doesn’t take long for Chloe to start seeing scary ghosts, and she’s quickly shipped off to Lyle House. Kelley Armstrong wastes no time ramping up the action and easily hooks us on sweet, friendly Chloe.

Lasting impressions: These books are best consumed in rapid succession, as the endings leave you wanting MOREMOREMORE. That said, the final book left too many unanswered questions and I felt a little gypped after finishing it.

Conflicting impressions: The pace is so fast and the timeline so short that there is little room for growth among the characters. They jump from one conflict to the next, always on the run, and at times I wanted things to slow down so we could learn more about these kids.

Overall impressions: For a series with so much squeaky-clean fun, these books felt sinfully bad to devour. They were so addictive that I would get twitchy when forced to stop reading. I passed up lunch dates and stayed up into the wee hours. I kind of feel like a drug pusher telling you about these books.

When I started the first one, Ruby warned me that I should go ahead and get the others. She was right. It’s highly improbable, nay – damn near impossible, to finish one without reaching for the next. I’m not kidding. These books are like crack.

Chloe Saunders is a nice little wisp of a girl. She’s barely past puberty when she sees her first ghost – an encounter that scares the crap out of her and leads to her being sent to a group home for the mentally ill. She’s diagnosed with schizophrenia, and does her best to get along with the handful of kids in her new home, Lyle House.

But of course, things are never what they seem in good paranormal books, are they?

Chloe soon learns that her fellow housemates have secrets of their own, and when they realize their lives are in danger they start to band together to escape. This conflict takes them across all three books as they discover more about their captors, the Edison Group, and try to get a handle on their growing supernatural powers. I loved that each of them had such different strengths and weaknesses, so that as a team they became stronger than they could ever be as individuals.

True to life were the interpersonal conflicts that arose among these teens. At times vain, socially awkward, naive, overconfident, and nearly always impulsive, all of the characters read like real people caught in this heightened reality. The action is intense and neverending, so you can’t help but keep turning the pages to see what happens next to this ragtag group. There is a slow burn romance that develops across the series as well, which I especially enjoyed. As a reader, you can see it coming, but it takes a looooong time for the characters to figure it out, which was just the cutest thing ever.

The thrill of their escape and ensuing chase sequences are nothing compared to Chloe’s gift to communicate with and raise the dead. She’s a powerful necromancer who has a hard time learning to control her gift in a way so she doesn’t draw souls back to their bodies and create an army of zombies. When she does accidentally create a zombie (best. idea. ever.) it’s absolutely horrifying and grotesque in all the best ways possible. Armstrong is a genius at creating the ick factor without wandering into stomach-churning territory.

My only real complaint came with the ending of book three. I was frustrated with the lack of answers and resolution. Throughout the series, Chloe’s necklace is a bit of a mystery, and its changing colors and purpose are sources of intrigue (not only for the story, but evidenced in the covers as well). Yet we don’t find out what it all means! The story also just stops, without a full ending that provides these characters with direction for the future. It was too abrupt for my taste, but since the overall reading experience was so satisfying, I’ll forgive it.

Series Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Trailer Tuesday (2)

Shhhhh. Let’s not talk about NaNoWriMo. We won’t discuss my paltry word count (~5,600) or the fact that I’m considering scrapping it this year to work on the book that actually needs to get finished. We’ll just table that discussion for another day.


Because, because, because, because, because!

It’s here!

It needs no introduction, really. Kids, the day has finally come for the theatrical trailer of The Hunger Games, and I admit no shame in the fact that tears were shed upon viewing this magical trailer.

Is it March yet?

A near victory

NaNoWriMo lumbers along for me. I had an out of town trip scheduled this past weekend, so I fell behind in my word count. This was expected, so not upsetting. I have Friday off from work in observance of Veterans’ Day, and I may join some other NaNoers in the crazy challenge to try and get 11,111 words done on 11/11/11.

Can I do it? I’m scared to find out!

My real excitement for the weekend came from our drive. It’s a long, boring 8-9 hour drive when we go back home to visit friends and family, and occasionally we listen to audiobooks. In general, I’m not a fan of the format because I can’t pay that close of attention when people are speaking to me and I can’t see them or take notes. I’m an extremely visual person, so things don’t sink in when I have to just sit and listen. My mind wanders and I don’t retain the story well.

My husband, however, is a fan. He has the opposite problem where books are concerned. He has a hard time sitting and reading a book because he can’t engage with the material. Then he gets bored and nods off to sleep, or reads the same sentence fifteen times without actually gaining anything from it.

Yesterday we were both bored with our music selections and I offered up the audiobook option. After perusing through a bunch of choices, The Hunger Games popped up. I didn’t think the hubs would go for it, but when I mentioned it he surprised me by saying he’d like to give it a try. My enthusiasm for the series and the upcoming movie is rubbing off on him, but he admitted he would never sit and read it despite the fact that he believes it’s awesome.

We ended up not getting to listen to it because I needed a WiFi signal to download the large file and by the time we stopped for gas and found WiFi there were only a few hours left to drive. I still consider it a victory that I have him intrigued enough that he’s willing to listen, so we may end up borrowing or buying it to listen to over the holidays. I think I would enjoy an audiobook of something I’ve already read because then I won’t feel as pressured to pay such close attention.

Do you like audiobooks? Have you ever been so excited about a book that you got a person interested in it that would not normally have liked it?

NaNoWriMo, Round 2

November is officially upon us, boys and girls! I can hardly believe it. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and this is the second year in a row that I will be participating. Although last year I procrastinated for much of the month and finished in a down-to-the-wire sprint, I’m hoping to be a bit more on top of things this time around.

I highly doubt that I will be posting regularly around here over the next 30 days, but I hope to give updates on my progress as I suffer through this crazy endeavor. I’m going for my first steampunk story, which I’m very excited about (even if I don’t know exactly where the story is going yet). The plan is to try and front load my word count as much as possible so I don’t wind up spending my entire Thanksgiving break holed up in my room glued to my laptop. My goal is 2,000 words a day. Fingers crossed!

Any other NaNo participants out there? Want to be my writing buddy? Or maybe chat with me on the NaNo forums? Then check out my NaNoWriMo profile page! I’ll also be tweeting my misery (@loganturner) and getting in on those excellent @NaNoWordSprints motivational writing sprints.

Basically, don’t worry if you don’t hear much from me this month. It means I’m holed up being creative…or crying in a corner at my failures. Either way, it’s bound to be interesting.