Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Plot Summary: Chloe Saunders only wants to make friends. But she starts seeing ghosts, and the ghosts see her. This gets her locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems, and there might be more to her housemates than meets the eye.

I’ve been hearing about this book for quite some time, and had intended to pick it up for months now. I finally got a copy from the library, and Christina Farley asked if I would share my thoughts on it. So, here they are.

The author did a great job with the secondary characters. Actually, I think she did better with them than she did with Chloe. Her writing style suggests she’s more comfortable with third person than first. Some of her execution would have been brilliant in third person, but came off as awkward in first – such as describing things Chloe was doing as though someone else was watching her. Except no one is, because we’re supposed to be inside her head.

The story starts off slow, really slow. But things get very interesting about two-thirds of the way into it, and I didn’t want to put it down. I found myself cheering for the characters, and I did not see the plot twist coming at the end. But the actual ending, well...sigh.

I seem to have a thing with endings. : ) They’re very important to me, and if a story doesn’t end on a satisfying note – which is not necessarily a happy one – then I feel I’ve wasted my time with the rest of it.

As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.

This book is the first in a trilogy about kids with paranormal abilities. Because of this, the author seems to have taken one story arc and cut it into thirds – the first third being THE SUMMONING. Just as the action was ramping up, much like the way things pick up in the middle of a story, everything ended.

Anyone who’s read my review on SKIN HUNGER knows how much I dislike that. : )

I realize that the pioneers of trilogies, like Tolkien, wrote their stories this way. And some stories need to be told this way. But I didn’t get that feeling when I got to the end of THE SUMMONING. The beginning was way too slow and repetitive, and dealt only with questions surrounding Lyle House. The same questions over and over again.

As soon as Liz did her ‘poltergeist’ thing in Chloe’s bedroom, I knew there was more to the purpose of this house than we'd been told. But it takes Chloe several more chapters to get to that point, using her 'movie' perspective as an excuse: in movies, the characters always seem to believe in the supernatural right away, but she wasn’t going to fall for that because she’s not in a movie. Well, yes and no. Yes, she’s not in a movie. But no, because she is a fictional character, and therefore should be believing things at the same pace as the reader. But she doesn’t, and, to me, that felt contrived. Like the author was trying to stretch out the story.

But all of that was better than the story being cut off right when the tension was building. I felt like I was being manipulated into buying two more books just to find out how one story was going to end, and I don’t like that. Especially when I think much of the beginning isn’t necessary.

I might read the other books in the trilogy, but I certainly won’t buy them. I’ll wait for my library to obtain copies.


Unknown said...

I agree about the not buying them and why. I hate it when that happens. The books are fun but not really worth buying in my opinion. I would buy them considering I like them so much but because I don't have a lot of money to be spending on books I have to be picky about which books I buy. Sometimes though I tend to get weak and buy them at sales. Sigh. hehe
This series is kind of like the House of Night series. They keep you hooked, repeat themselves A lot, don't really move the story along in each book, them BAM it ends mid action so that you have to wait for the next book to find out what will happen. I hate that. I think it should all be put into one because it is really easy to do that, the author just has to stop repeating stuff! Anywho, even though this irks me about books too, I can't help but find myself entertained. :) The second book is also pretty darn good and full of adventure, though again you get the whole end issue.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Really a good, honest review, and I couldn't agree more.

Tabitha said...

Robin - yeah, repeating stuff to fill out a story isn't in anyone's best interest. :) My library doesn't have a copy of The Awakening yet, but I'm sure they will soon. In this case, I'd rather support my library than buy the books. :)

Tricia - thanks! :) I try really hard to be both honest and fair. Hope it comes out that way. :)

PJ Hoover said...

I think I have this in my Audible library. I'll definitely read it, but there are a few before it!

Danyelle L. said...

I love your reviews! I love "seeing" what worked and what didn't work for you.

Urk to those types of endings as well. I hate it when they do that!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Nice, balanced review. A tough thing to do. Books that start slowly are one thing, books that take 2/3rds of the novel to get going are, well, probably not going to hold my attention. Guess I'd pass on this one.

Best regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Mary Witzl said...

This review touches on something I've been mulling over lately: the whole problem of showing characters struggling to believe the unbelievable. On one hand, I sympathize with the author: whenever I'm watching movies, especially one with fantastic elements, I'm always irritated with how quickly the characters manage to accept the crazy and impossible things they encounter. So part of me understands why the author would want to make her protagonist less gullible. But as a reader, I get frustrated when it takes too long for a character to 'get on board'. This is a balance I'm trying to get right too just now...

I like the way there is always so much food for thought in your reviews.

Laina said...

Know what's odd? All of adult books that I've read are in first person (and I've read like five or six of them) and they're great. So, maybe it's the YA thing that's a bit difficult for her, as this is her first YA book (least as far as I know).